Readers are invited to do an internet search of the terms “sovereign individuals” or “sovereign citizens.” You will find things like the book The Sovereign Individual, explaining how to survive the “collapse of the welfare state.” Or an invitation to join the Sovereignty Society and learn how to live the “off-shore life.” Or you can learn about the deep thinkers who believe they are immune from federal law.
Tom Emmer has authored bills and resolutions this past session on health care reform (agin’ it), the Commerce Clause (agin’ it), and the U.S. Constitution (also agin’ it).
He’s been against the indoor smoking ban, against stricter rules for young drivers and mandating seat belt use, against gays, abortion, and against the obligation of a pharmacist to fill a legal prescription for birth control.
He’s against the federal registration of guns manufactured in Minnesota, apparently so long as the guns enter the stream of commerce when bought from the manufacturer by a Minnesotan (never mind where the guns go after that).
Emmer is, in fact, an endless source of bemusement — and amusement — for anybody with a passing familiarity with the U.S. Constitution and the history of some of its most important provisions.
But there is one little phrase in his bill to amend the Minnesota Constitution to permit nullification of federal law, first mentioned here by MNO, that has been bothering me for some time. Here’s the proposed amendment:
Citizens of Minnesota are sovereign individuals, subject to Minnesota law and immune from any federal laws that exceed the federal government's enumerated constitutional powers. A federal law does not apply in Minnesota unless that law is approved by a two-thirds vote of the members of each house of the legislature and is signed by the governor. Before voting to approve a federal law, each legislator must individually affirm that the legislator has read the federal law and understands it. Citizens of Minnesota enjoy inherent, natural, God-given rights as reflected in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Constitution. Minnesota citizens have the right to seek redress for any alleged violation of these rights committed by the state of Minnesota exclusively through a jury trial in a Minnesota court and through enactment of a change in Minnesota law.
It’s easy to to let the words slip right by, because they don’t seem to mean anything, even within the amendment itself. I refer, of course, to his use of the aforementioned term “sovereign individuals.”
These words don’t mean much to most people, but they’re a dog whistle signal to a group that Emmer undoubtedly considers a part of his base: the Patriots. The words are music to a Patriot’s ear.
The Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a quarterly called the Intelligence Report. Its current issue has an article called Meet the Patriots; here are a couple of paragraphs from from the “bio” of Patriot Bob Campbell:
Bob Campbell and his American Grand Jury are on a mission to drive President Obama from office and put him on trial for treason. Obama "is a certified crook that has committed treason and fraud," Campbell wrote on his website late last year. "He is a fraud and a traitor."
Campbell, who did not respond to an E-mail to his website, formed American Grand Jury in March 2009 to examine "evidence" and hand down "presentments" that the group hopes will be used to indict the president. The use of faux "grand juries" and "common-law courts" are common to many in the Patriot movement, especially those who call themselves "sovereign citizens."
All of the pathological tax deniers, gun loonies, Ruby Ridgers, Waco wackos, the Minutemen, the birthers, and the deathers, and just about every other affiliated nutter you can imagine, cling to the idea of sovereign individuals or citizens.
Tom Emmer is telling each and every one of them, “I’m one of you.”
I’ll have more on Emmer’s blueprint for Minnesota secession later.
[Ken Avidor’s graphic]
Update: You’ll want to read the follow up, too.