Because of my occupation I have been around the sovereignty movement for most of 30 years. Yes it’s that old and has been around a long time. Just like the old time snake oil salesmen, I’ve seen the sovereignty concept pitched for use for just about everything.
As for the current common law/sovereignty movement, the underlying desire and hunger for change and something better which is systemic to the current conditions we find ourselves in today is the foundation being used for personal sovereignty being pitched as the way to gain fulfillment of those desires and hunger pangs.
The problem with that is it is purely based on a lack of knowledge and the failure to be open minded enough to not see all effecting factors. There is no such thing as personal sovereignty! Sovereignty is supreme power or authority over something and that something is usually control or the governing of a group of people. Truthfully we don’t and can never have supreme authority or power over these bodies we inhabit at all. The mere fact we can’t control the health or death of it should be sufficient to make that point obvious.
Back to a more direct point, let’s begin with an overly simplified investigation of what is “common law”. Common law is what arose in the 12th and 13th centuries as civilizations, especially the civilizations on the British Isle, came out of the “dark ages”. The justice system that existed prior to that was a chaotic system based on feudal law over ridden by the authority of the monarchy. Under that system each feudal estate was under the control of the local landowner who set the laws for his estate but owed allegiance to and was subject to the taxation of the crown.
As an example of how the free man faced justice, If I was to steal an apple on one estate I might be made to do sufficient extra work until I paid for that apple with the amount of work determined by the head of the feudal estate. On another estate for the theft of an apple I might be placed in some type of confinement for 10 years.
The system of justice was riddled with inequity. To attempt to solve the problem the English system began evolving not because of the inequity for the common people but because those of titled nobility got tired of the burdensome actions of the monarchy.
This evolving was manifested through the creation of certain documents that specified that limited the power of the monarchy and established certain rights for the nobles which bled down to the common people.
What came out of the discontent of the nobles began, as far as the legal system was concerned, with basically three different courts being established within the English system. Laws were drawn up and put into place by a two house parliamentary system.
It was the duty of the crown to enforce the laws while the courts decided how those laws were applied.
As the courts decided, or issued rulings, on how those laws were to be applied in various circumstances those rulings then became how they were used in applying the laws to future cases. This then is truly what is “common law” and to be more specific the common law as we know it is really something called case based law.
[Remember I said this was an overly simplified view so don’t ding too hard with the comments!]
What most people today are thinking about when they refer to “common law” is more akin to the inalienable rights that Jefferson described in the Declaration of Independence. They are trying to say that each of us at birth have certain rights that should be sacrosanct. They see that even that “rights” are being abused and infringed upon by those abusers of power. They desire to regain a semblance of being in control and they look for a way to protect those rights and make them inviolable.
They have reasoned that the people have a right to do whatever necessary to seek out the way to make them inviolable. Someone then came along and said look I have the solution and its based upon the “common law”. But the “common law” that they seem to think exists, doesn’t and never has.
The promoters of this approach then came up with something they are calling a common law jury. The create this system for creating and running these juries but when they try to give it legitimacy through historical precedent that they go astray.
Since there has never been anything even close to what they are trying to create or remotely conceived of in any document, for them to say the power rests in common law is a fallacy and deception.
They point to the U.S. grand jury system and use a single statement by a single judge as proof. However, if you research the case the statement was made in regards to you find it was referring to a very limited definition of a single characteristic of the grand jury system.
The grand jury that exists in the U.S. Constitution was created to correct a flaw in the English case law or common law system. In the English system at the time of the American Revolution the representative of the English crown had the sole authority to decide who and with what crime a person was charged with. This of course led to abuse of power by the representatives of the crown, hence, the need to limit the power of the representatives of the government.
To correct that abuse of power problem the founders of this country established a panel of peers system to decide and determine when there was cause enough for a person to be charged and tried of a crime. The way that system is implemented has evolved through the years influenced by our three branch and checks and balances system.
To begin the process a representative of the government (Federal prosecutor) has to convince a Federal district judge that there is sufficient reason to believe that it would be in the best interest of the welfare of the people to seat a grand jury. The prosecutor has to prove that it is in the best interest of the people to further determine whether there is sufficient evidence to warrant charging a person with a crime.
Once a judge is satisfied he will authorize the calling of jurors to make up a grand jury. A grand jury is composed of between 16 and 23 members and most times with 2-3 alternates. To protect the “target” of a grand jury investigation and the identity of those testifying in case there is no indictment the work and session of a grand jury are secret.
That doesn’t mean that the “target” of a grand jury isn’t made aware of the presence of a grand jury investigating something about them as all grand juries issues a letter, called a target letter, to those that the grand jury will be focusing upon. Those targeted by the grand jury are given the opportunity if they so choose to appear before the grand and give testimony but the government cannot compel them to testify.
A grand jury does not have unlimited time to make up their minds whether to indict or not. A Federal grand jury is limited to 18 months plus one 6 month extension to reach agreement on an indictment or fail to indict. To reach indictment only requires that 12 members of the 16-23 members of the grand jury reach agreement for an indictment.
The biggest problem with the grand jury system is a tendency for the grand jurors to believe that even if there really isn’t enough evidence to prove the crime that the next phrase will correct any mistakes they may make. [Hence, the old remark that a Federal prosecutor could indict a ham sandwich for murder.] Once a “target” is indicted they are then arrested, processed and then goes through the long period until he gets his day in court to face the determination of whether they are found to be innocent or guilty.
However, the fallacy in the notion that the grand jury’s findings are cushioned by the system is that simply having to endure the arrest and trial process usually winds up destroying the person even if they turn out to be not guilty.
What the common law/sovereignty movement is trying to do today is create some kind of pseudo-grand jury. However, there is no grounds of legitimacy or legality for the existence of such a jury. The minimum that would be needed for such a jury to have any power would be societal acceptance, which is sorely lacking. Without a basis to draw the power for simply existence from then the actions of the so-called common law jury becomes nothing more than kangaroo justice and vigilantism.
The more they try to “indict” people on grounds not truly supported by legal evidence but instead upon human emotion, the more they will be seen as a lunatic fringe element as bad if not worse than the ones they claim to be against. You cannot end tyranny by using the tactics of a tyrant yourself.
They try to convince others and justify themselves by speaking to those longings, desires and characteristics which are inherit traits in all people to want to be free. They try to justify that because there have been those who have been prone to abuse of power that the only way to correct the situation is to “take justice into your own hands”.
All this will do over time is lead to violence in some form or the other by either members of the movement itself or by the government in “protection” of those being targeted by the common law juries.
Those basic human traits at the heart of all of this can, in most cases, be defined as rights. These would of course include the right to exist and be, the right to do as one pleases as long as what you do doesn’t infringe upon another individuals right to do as they please, and the right to do whatever one wants to make themselves happy as long as you do not infringe upon others’ right to find happiness as well. These are the most common of those human traits to which we should be entitled to simply because we exist as a human. These are also the inalienable rights that I spoke of earlier that Jefferson saw as so important, so fundamental, that he addressed those same rights in the Declaration of Independence.
I agree with the desire that change needs to come but disagree with the how it should come to pass. The United States was created to be the bellwether for this planet to show how a nation can be a leader in the area of personal liberties. However, a few men from the very beginning have tried their very greatest to usurp that power and distort it to their own use creating a delay in the achievement of our nation’s highest and best purpose.
Change will come when the people themselves have become weary of being the downtrodden. No person can be forced to succumb to the will of another without his own willingness to allow it.
Are there times when there is a price to pay for taking such a stand? Absolutely! Is it too high a price to pay? Never!
The only thing that keeps one from standing strong against tyranny is fear. Fear mostly of death and dying. If one can overcome that fear then the battle is won.
If tomorrow morning when the sun arose 200 million Americans said, “no more will we allow our liberties to be trampled”, those who are attempting to subject us to their will could not ever create enough force to be successful.
All it will take for lasting permanent change is a leader to appear that will guide this nation toward a new beginning, a new life, a new dawn where the rights of the individual not the rights of the masses is the primary focus of this country. A leader that will be the captain that will steer this country into an era of economic growth and prosperity. A leader with vision and integrity.
Such people do exist! We had such a leader to some degree in John Kennedy but he was too much too soon without the support that he needed to make him unstoppable. Now is the time, we only need to find the person. LET THE SEARCH BEGIN!