Various questions so far have asked about the constitutionality, or not, of various freemen theories, which include "Fourteenth Amendment" citizens and is quite possibly a variant of the Sovereign Citizen movement.

Essentially, these are theories that treat the government and its laws as a contract, that can only be enforced with the consent of the governed.

What I'd be interested in is have these theories ever been upheld by a court of law? For example, freemen theories have been used at times to reject courts' jurisdictions, attempt to enforce or invalidate debt, and many others.

It might be difficult to prove a negative, but with theories like these, I'd be willing to bet that if there's a court anywhere that has upheld any of them, we'd know all about it.

I'm looking for a detailed response that describes and debunks prominent variants of these theories – or shows that they've succeeded.

  • See also law.stackexchange.com/questions/35/…
    – Flup
    Commented Oct 19, 2015 at 7:05
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    Maybe the title should be changed? I think there are excellent arguments for these theories: aside from early U.S. founding documents like the Federalist Papers that support them, there are more explicit American political philosophers like Lysander Spooner who is worth reading on the subject. But you seem to be asking if a U.S. court has ever respected them. And by its current construction the answer to your question will, of course, be "no." I.e., when accepted they are considered "rights," and when not they are considered (by the government) "crackpot theories."
    – feetwet
    Commented Oct 23, 2015 at 13:57
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    have these theories ever been upheld by a court of law Of course! My sovereign citizen friends and I formed a common law court, and we say that they're totes legit. You can cite the decision as Citizens v. Obama's Muslim Caliphate, CCTX (2011).
    – Nick ODell
    Commented Oct 30, 2015 at 1:20
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it was improperly filed in an Admiralty court under private interference doctrine, which is invalid and lacks personal and subject matter jurisdiction over the applicable personality. Accepted for value without levy (no strawman), by my representatives a human rights banking corporation under license of God Almighty. Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 22:27
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    @RobertColumbia: Yes, but this only works if you also change your username so that the post is signed ROBERT COLUMBIA. Commented Feb 18, 2023 at 19:48

1 Answer 1


My research has turned up no instances of anyone successfully advocating these ideas in court.

These are crackpot pseudo-legal theories that have no legal validity whatsoever. And are also a bit troublesome and problematic for the rest of us.

They are mostly advocated by people who:

  • don't want to pay taxes or otherwise conform to laws they don't like;
  • are conspiracy-minded; and
  • have come across a pseudo-legal theory that helps them justify their position.

For example, an author of this Wikipedia article explains:

"Freemen" believe that statute law is a contract, and that individuals can therefore opt out of statute law, choosing instead to live under what they call "common" (case) and "natural" laws. Under their theory, natural laws require only that individuals do not harm others, do not damage the property of others, and do not use "fraud or mischief" in contracts. They say that all people have two parts to their existence – their body and their legal "person". The latter is represented by the individual's birth certificate; some freemen claim that it is entirely limited to the birth certificate. Under this theory, a "strawman" is created when a birth certificate is issued, and this "strawman" is the entity who is subject to statutory law. The physical self is referred to by a slightly different name – for example "John of the family Smith", as opposed to "John Smith".

In 2013, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington tried and convicted Kenneth Wayne Leaming for retaliation by making false claims and wrote:

Defendant [Kenneth Wayne Leaming] is apparently a member of a group loosely styled "sovereign citizens." The Court has deduced this from a number of Defendant’s peculiar habits.

First, like Mr. Leaming, sovereign citizens are fascinated by capitalization. They appear to believe that capitalizing names has some sort of legal effect. For example, Defendant writes that "the REGISTERED FACTS appearing in the above Paragraph evidence the uncontroverted and uncontrovertible FACTS that the SLAVERY SYSTEMS operated in the names UNITED STATES, United States, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, and United States of America . . . are terminated nunc pro tunc by public policy, U.C.C. 1-103 . . . ." (Def.’s Mandatory Jud. Not. at 2.) He appears to believe that by capitalizing "United States," he is referring to a different entity than the federal government. For better or for worse, it’s the same country.

Second, sovereign citizens, like Mr. Leaming, love grandiose legalese. "COMES NOW, Kenneth Wayne, born free to the family Leaming, [date of birth redacted], constituent to The People of the State of Washington constituted 1878 and admitted to the union 22 February 1889 by Act of Congress, a Man, "State of Body" competent to be a witness and having First Hand Knowledge of The FACTS . . . ." (Def.’s Mandatory Jud. Not. at 1.)

Third, Defendant evinces, like all sovereign citizens, a belief that the federal government is not real and that he does not have to follow the law. Thus, Defendant argues that as a result of the "REGISTERED FACTS," the "states of body, persons, actors and other parties perpetuating the above captioned transaction(s) [i.e., the Court and prosecutors] are engaged . . . in acts of TREASON, and if unknowingly as victims of TREASON and FRAUD . . . ." (Def.’s Mandatory Jud. Not. at 2.)

The Court therefore feels some measure of responsibility to inform Defendant that all the fancy legal-sounding things he has read on the internet are make-believe......

Paper Terrorism

One particularly problematic "successful" tactic employed by these individuals is the filing of false liens. They take advantage of the fact that property liens are not vetted prior to being recorded. These false liens illegally cloud the title to real property and adversely affect the sale of property by adding unnecessary time and expense to the process.

  • I have recently come across a case that deals with Sovereign citizen movement. Has anyone found anything else on this.United States v. DiMartino, No. 18-2053 (2d Cir. 2020) law.justia.com/cases/federal/appellate-courts/ca2/18-2053/… Commented Feb 22, 2020 at 18:50
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    That case is interesting. A man represented himself using "sovereign citizens" arguments and lost. Then he got himself a lawyer, and the lawyer claimed that using these "sovereign citizen" argument showed he was not fit to stand trial. This was rejected: Claiming you are a "sovereign citizen" is just a result of your political views and not a sign of insanity according to the court.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 26, 2022 at 10:55
  • See also RationalWiki
    – Stuart F
    Commented Jul 25, 2022 at 10:50

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