A bit of a followup from yesterday’s post. The following lays out the logic of the notion of “14th Amendment citizens” versus “sovereign citizens” as imagined by a group intriguingly called the “American Patriot Network.” The group’s been around for a while: I cited some of their “analysis” in my book on the militia movement, Rage on the Right.
Not that it needs to be said, but this is not constitutional analysis. It’s fantasy in legal-looking language. But it’s entertaining! Enjoy—
ARTICLE #2 - Fourteenth Amendment Citizenship
If you look through the copy of the United States constitution found in the 1990 edition of Black’s Law Dictionary, you’ll notice something very interesting. The word “Citizen” is always capitalized until you get to the fourteenth amendment, which was adopted in 1868. After that, it’s no longer capitalized. This isn’t an isolated occurrence either. In the definition of “Dred Scott Case,” a supreme court case decided before the fourteenth amendment, they capitalize “Citizen,” but everywhere else in the dictionary, where it refers to the laws of today, the word isn’t capitalized. As you shall see, this is just one small indicator of many that the fourteenth amendment created a new class of citizen.
This is certainly no secret to the legal community. In fact, under the definition of “Fourteenth Amendment” it says, “The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States… creates… a citizenship of the United States as distinct from that of the states…” This class of “citizen of the United States” was new; it was unknown to the constitution prior to 1868. This wasn’t the status of our forefathers. In the first sentence of the definition of “United States” found in Black’s, it says, “This term has several meanings.” Pursuing this further, we find that one of the definitions is the “collective name of the states which are united by and under the Constitution.” This is what the framers of the constitution meant by “Citizen of the United States” - that is, the Citizen of one state is to be considered and treated as a Citizen of every other state in the union. Used in another sense, though, the term is simply the name of the federal government. This is what is meant by “citizen of the United States in the fourteenth amendment”:
Privileges and immunities clause of Fourteenth Amendment protects only those rights peculiar to being citizen of federal government; it does not protect those rights which relate to state citizenship.
Jones v. Temmer, Federal Supplement, Vol. 829, Page 1227 (1993)
From the authorities above, we can see that the fourteenth amendment created citizenship of the federal government. This status is a privilege granted by the government:
Citizenship is a political status, and may be defined and privilege limited by Congress.
Ex Parte (NG) Fung Sing, Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 6, Page 670 (1925)
It goes without saying that the federal government can regulate the privileges it creates. By definition, “citizenship” is the basis of a person’s relationship with the government. In the legal sense, everything else is built upon it. Therefore, since fourteenth amendment citizenship is a privilege, every aspect of the citizen’s life could potentially be regulated. Worst of all, this new class of citizen does not have the right to invoke the protections of the Bill of Rights, as explained in the following supreme court case:
We have cited these cases for the purpose of showing that the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States do not necessarily include all the rights protected by the first eight amendments to the Federal Constitution against the powers of the Federal government. They were decided subsequently to the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment…
Maxwell v. Dow, 176 US 598 (1900)
This isn’t an idea peculiar to the turn of the century either. Going back to the ‘Jones’ case, which was decided in 1993, we find the courts of today saying, “The privileges and immunities clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects very few rights because it neither incorporates any ofthe Bill of Rights not protects all rights of individual citizens.” Although fourteenth amendment citizens have no guaranteed access to the Bill of Rights, the amendment itself does state that they have certain “privileges and immunities.” Here’s what the supreme court has decided they are:
Privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States, on the other hand, are only such as arise out of the nature and essential character of the national government, or are specifically granted or secured to all citizens or persons by the Constitution of the United States. Slaughter-House Cases, supra, p.79; Re Kemmler, 136 U.S. 436, 448, 34 L.ed. 519, 524, 10 Sup. Ct.Rep. 930; Duncan v. Missouri, 152 U.S. 377, 382, 38 L.ed. 485, 487, 14 Sup.Ct.Rep. 570. Thus, among the rights and privileges of national citizenship recognized by this court are the right to pass freely from state to state (Crandall v. Nevada, 6 Wall. 35, 18 L.ed. 75); the right to petition Congress for a redress of grievances (United States v. Cruikshank, supra); the right to vote for national officers (Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 28 L.ed. 274, 4 Sup.Ct.Rep. 152; Wiley v. Sinkler, 179 U.S. 58, 45 L.ed. 84, 21 Sup.Ct. Rep. 17); the right to be protected against violence while in the lawful custody of a United States marshall (Logan v. United States, 144 U.S. 263, 36 L.ed. 429, 12 Sup.Ct. Rep. 617); and the right to inform the United States authorities of violation of its laws (Re Quark, 158 U.S. 532, 39 L.ed. 1080, 15 Sup.Ct.Rep. 959).
Twining v. New Jersey, 211 US 78 (1908)
As discussed in the last article, Sovereign Citizens created government to guarantee them their rights. In contrast, it would seem from the above that the federal government created fourteenth amendment citizenship to guarantee its power.
As a side note, this amendment has always been controversial. Many people over the years have questioned the amount of power it vests in the federal government. Some have even questioned its validity. On one occasion Judge Ellett of the Utah supreme court remarked:
I cannot believe that any court, in full possession of its faculties, could honestly hold that the amendment was properly approved and adopted.
State v. Phillips, Pacific Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 540, Page 941, 942 (1975)
However, the most important fact about this amendment is that, although it created a new class of citizen, it did not have any effect on Sovereign Citizens. Both classes still exist:
When the Constitution was adopted the people of the United States were the citizens of the several States for whom and for whose posterity the government was established. Each of them was a citizen of the United States at the adoption of the Constitution, and all free persons thereafter born within one of the several States became by birth citizens of the State and of the United States. (Mr. Calhoun in his published work upon the Constitution denied that there was any citizenship of the United States in any other sense than as being connected with the government through the States.)
The first attempt by Congress to define citizenship was in 1866 in the passage of the Civil Rights Act (Revised Statutes section 1992, 8 United States Code Annotated section 1). The act provided that:
“All persons born in the United States and not subject to any foreign power are declared to be citizens of the United States.”
And this in turn was followed in 1868 by the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, United States Code Annotated Amendment 14, declaring:
“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”
Perkins v. Elg, Federal Reporter, 2nd Series, Vol. 99, Page 410 (1938), affirmed by supreme court at 307 US 325 (1939)
Both classes of citizen still exist. It’s your right to be a Sovereign Citizen, while it’s a privilege to be a fourteenth amendment citizen, and most importantly, it’s up to you to determine which one you are, and which one you want to be.