“You cannot arrest me, I’m above the rule of law… why did your lawmakers ignore article 61 of the Magna Carta why…?” These are words from a fringe movement known as the “sovereign citizen movement”.
This ideology became more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic, they believe that they are above the law but wait, how and why are these people claiming these rights?
To understand the concept, we need to go back in time.
Buckle your seat belt, it’s about to be a long ride.
MAGNA CARTA: The Meaning
The Magna Carta meaning “The Great Charter” can be traced back to medieval England in the 13th century.
King John’s father, Henry II (r. 1154–89), introduced extensive judicial reforms, established the authority of the royal courts, and laid firm foundations for the future system of justice in England.
Many of the clauses towards the end of the Magna Carta were practical arrangements for making peace. Rather than looking forward to how the king was to behave in the future, these clauses sought to put right the wrongs.
King John (r. 1199–1216) repeatedly breached the bounds of traditional practice by exploiting his feudal rights to excess.
Over a third of the 63 clauses in 1215, Magna Carta dealt directly with these rights, defining and limiting the extent of the king’s authority.
In June 1215, “King John imposed heavy taxes on his barons to pay for his expensive foreign wars” and that if they refused to pay, he would punish them severely or seize their property.
The barons on the other hand demanded that King John obey the law – when he refused, the barons captured London and the King was forced to negotiate.
“The two sides met at Runnymede in June 1215. The result of the negotiations was written down by the king’s clerks in the document we know as Magna Carta,” the British Library says.
Perhaps the most radical clause in Magna Carta was the 61st, which set up an elected commission of 25 barons to monitor the king’s compliance with the settlement and enforce its terms.
“The 25 barons had the power to seize the king’s property to seek redress if he failed to keep the terms imposed on him.”
Although most of the charter’s clauses dealt with medieval rights and customs, Magna Carta has become a powerful symbol of liberty around the world. Do note that, the article was removed from Magna Carta a few years later.
SOVEREIGN CITIZEN MOVEMENT
Remember, the article 61 which says “The 25 barons had the power to seize the king’s property to seek redress if he failed to keep the terms imposed on him.” was later removed from the Magna Carta, and Magna Carta became one of the major foundations of setting the rule of law in England and perhaps in the world at large.
These so-called “sovereign people” claims that this article shouldn’t have been removed from the Magna Carta because they believe that government fears two things majorly,
– Article 61 of the Magna Carta
– Unity of the people
These laws could only apply to England because that’s where the origin is but these theories have spread like wildfire in many different countries like Singapore, Scotland, Australia, etc and only 4 out of the 63 main clauses in the Magna Carta are still valid today which are part 1, 13, 39 and 40.
SOVEREIGN PEOPLE’S MOTION & MOTIVE
To understand their motives, we need to understand article 61 itself.
The article states that “The 25 English barons had the power to seize the king’s property in order to seek redress if he failed to keep the terms imposed on him.” so 25 English Lords can come together to seek from the authority if they feel cheated on or left out etc.
These people have now taken it a step further to say, the federal government doesn’t have the power over them, and the government doesn’t have the right to tax them or arrest them or put restrictions on them.
Do note that even though Magna Carta has played a huge role in the development of English law, it’s not a magical book that supersedes government order, directives, or the law.
These people take random bits of legal and historical jargon, and try to throw it into a legal argument saying that government is illegitimate to tell them what law they must follow, which they should ignore, and they operate in a different law compared to others.
They even go to the extent of issuing their own ID cards and nationality.
These people claim that the federal government doesn’t have the right to charge them for tax invasion, speedy tickets, etc.
These people claim that COVID-19 is a ‘plandemic’ and the government mandate on COVID-19 rules is against the peace of the society thereby forcefully shutting down vaccination centers, attacking schools that give vaccines, and also government officials involved in the process.
These people have claimed to have their self-appointed peace constables, peace officers, and common law constables. They claim that their right trumps over the actual cops.
They have been holding combat training for its people called “Alpha Team Assembly”
If you think these people are just harmless fools who just misread the law, then you are joking.
These people are ready to kill and be killed for their beliefs.
Although there are claims that these people are involved in different atrocities, for example, Terry Nichols, one of the masterminds of the Oklahoma bombing which killed roughly about 168 people were said to have been heavily inspired by these sovereign ideologies, and the US classes them as one of the most serious domestic threats facing the country.
There are many other claims like the anti-vax sovereign case in Ireland etc.
One of the scariest things about this is, that the government doesn’t know when they will encounter these people.
A police officer can stop a car for violating traffic rules and be shot by a sovereign citizen because they claim they are above the law and cannot be charged by the government.
One of the most notable strategies they use to harass their called enemies is called “paper terrorism”
Paper terrorism is a neologism to refer to the use of false liens, frivolous lawsuits, bogus letters of credit, and other legal documents lacking sound factual basis as a method of harassment.
These methods are popular among some American anti-government groups and those associated with the redemption movement. according to Wikipedia.
So if you file fraudulent lawsuits against people, it intimidates them into changing the laws or the rules and the strategy is to keep writing these lawsuits to wear down whoever they are writing it to.
Should these people be ignored? no
Will they become a threat in the future? yes
If these people claim they are above the law and the government is against public ‘peace’, what’s then is the going to be the metrics or criteria for public peace apart from the rule of law? These are questions that still wait for answers
The future will unfold everything.
Citation: Vice World News, National World, The British Library.