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Sovereign Citizens

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The Sovereign Citizens are anti-government and claim courts have no authority over them

Sovereign Citizens emerged in the United States in the 1970s, denying the legitimacy of the federal government and the jurisdiction of the courts in cases involving its followers. The movement has enjoyed a resurgence since the COVID-19 pandemic. Sovereign Citizens' ideology has been invoked by multiple rioters convicted in the January 6, 2021 attacks on the US Capitol.

The "sovereign" dogma asserts that the legal and political system established by America's Founding Fathers was secretly replaced by a new system of governance based on maritime law and international trade. Some Sovereign Citizens believe that this change occurred during the American Civil War, while others date it to 1933, when the US abandoned the gold standard and devalued the dollar. According to proponents of the conspiracy theory, American judges are aware of the power grab but systematically reject their requests and complaints out of loyalty to the hidden forces that allegedly control the federal state.  

Labeled a domestic terrorist threat by US law enforcement agencies, Sovereign Citizens counts an estimated 300,000 followers, and has spread to countries including Canada, and to Northern Ireland. In Germany, a similar movement has existed since the early 1980s, the Reichsbürger movement (‘Reich Citizens' Movement’).

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(Last updated on 12/27/2023)

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