sovereign citizens
Society and Social Structures

Sovereign Citizens: adolescence has become a political philosophy

This is a guest post by Carl Jacobs: a Christian by grace, a Calvinist by conviction, an American by birth. Husband of one, father of two, an Engineer by profession, proudly possessed of a military mind. You never actually take off the Uniform. Not really.


Imagine that you are an officer of the law. Your shift has just started, and it’s a bright cheery morning. The sun is shining. The birds are singing. Heck, people are even obeying the speed limit (hey, it’s my imagery, Sarky. Deal with it). There you are protecting, serving, and conducting an in-depth investigation of a Raspberry Bismark. And then you see this

sovereign citizens private license plates
Your morning just got a whole lot less cheery, because you will soon be dealing with a Sovereign Citizen:


If you have never heard of Sovereign Citizens before, then here is the short version: a Sovereign believes he is not subject to the jurisdiction of the nation in which he resides unless he explicitly gives his consent. He believes he is subject only to common law and not to statutory law. So, for example, he will deny that he must possess a state-issued driver’s licence, or vehicle registration, but will instead assert the common law right to ‘travel’. In a sentence, he believes he possesses all of the rights of a citizen but none of the responsibilities. Adolescence has become a political philosophy.

A typical traffic stop with a Sovereign goes something like this:

Officer: “I need to see your driver’s licence, registration, and proof of insurance.”

Sovereign: “What crime have I committed?”

Officer: “You have no vehicle registration.”

Sovereign: “What law requires me to have vehicle registration?”

Officer: (Cites Vehicle Code).

Sovereign: “That’s statutory law. I have not consented to be bound by your statutory law. You have no jurisdiction.” (Lather, rinse, repeat for the next 20 minutes).

That 20 minutes, by the way, is all down to the professionalism and patience of the officer. You can hear the subtext in his voice: “I’m trying not to send you to jail. Work with me. Do you want to go to jail? Just show me your licence. Do not make me do all this paperwork over a simple traffic stop.” But the Sovereign will typically stand on principle and force the arrest. At which point the episode concludes with a declaration of arrest, an unheeded demand to exit the vehicle, the breaking of window glass, the occasional taser, and screams of: “I do not consent!” Or perhaps, on a few occasions, it ends in bloodshed. These people seem ridiculous, but they can be deadly – as the video shows.

There is currently a case in Arizona where a Sovereign named Mitchell Taebel fled from police and subsequently ran head-on into another motorist. He was arrested, arraigned, and said the following to his arraignment judge before the judge set bail: “The officers can be killed under U.S.C. § 242. I just want to put that on the record. And should be, in my opinion.” Taebel received a $400,000 cash-only bond. There are so many witnesses and cellphone videos of what he did, his lawyer is reduced to making the standard appeal to ‘mental health issues’.

We might all distance ourselves from and shake our heads at these people. For surely we do not treat the law with such contempt. But are we really so different? These people deny the authority of the sovereign placed over them based on nothing more than their own say-so. Who does that sound like? Who shakes his fist at the heavens and says: “Who made you God over me?” The authority of God is seventy times seven more immutable than the authority of a judge. The power of God is seventy times seven more unchallengeable than the power of the officer. And yet we still sit like a man on a mountain in Montana and say: “On this my mountain the government has no sovereignty!” That is until the Government decides to enforce its authority by virtue of its power. Then all his pretensions are exposed by the impotence of his own demands. He can declare his word, but he has not the ability to see that it is fulfilled. His folly is exposed as he is hauled off to prison. There he will remain until he has paid in full all that he owes.

Look! There is the Son! Seize him and kill him and then we will divide the vineyard for ourselves! But the the King will come and put down the rebels. Men do not seem to grasp the permanence of this lesson. Again and again we gaze at the vineyard and say: “That will be mine.” We will only discover that the King is possessed of a terrible wrath that will not be turned aside by the impassioned voice that shouts: “I do not consent!” The glass will be broken, the door will be opened, and the criminal will be forcibly seized. His destiny will no longer be his own. That which he denied will be made manifest. The law will be upheld. The man who once sat upon his mountain will now say: “Mountain, fall on me!” But the mountain will not hear him.

On the Last Day, every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. Every tongue, both redeemed and damned, will declare that foundational truth. Every man will worship. Some will bow down willingly. Some will bow down on broken knees. Some will confess with joy. Some will confess with hatred. But they will all confess what they now know with metaphysical certainty to be true. What then of the vain pretensions of man? And where then is his vaunted mountain?