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Researching the Right for Progressive Changemakers

What is the Constitutionalist Movement?

The Constitutionalist Movement is actually a series of overlapping movements built around bogus legal theories.

  • Constitutionalists
  • Sovereign Citizens
  • Christian Patriots
  • Freeman
  • County supremacy movement
  • state sovereignty movement
  • Tenth Amendment movement.
  • Common Law Courts
  • "Debt-Money" Theories

Constitutionalists carry forward the theories of the Posse Comitatus, an armed underground movement that peaked in the 1980s. Many Christian Identity groups also adopt Constitutionalist theories, such as the Aryan Nations and the Weaver Family. The Constitutionalist movement takes the basic themes of the States’ Rights Movement which opposed integration in the 1960s and wrpas them in even more vivid and aggressively apocalyptic conspiracy theoires. While some Constitutionalists appear unaware of or deny the White supremacist roots and branches of the movement, others are consciously racist, and some propose the eradication of people of color and Jews.

Patriot Constitutionalists & Freeman

Adapted from Berlet & Lyons, Right-Wing Populism in America: Too Close for Comfort

Throughout the late 1990s the Patriot and armed militia movements overlapped
with a resurgent states’ rights movement and a new "county supremacy" movement.
There was rapid growth of illegal so-called constitutionalist common-law
courts, set up by persons claiming a nonexistent "sovereign" citizenship.

These courts claimed jurisdiction over legal matters on the county or
state level and dismissed the U.S. judicial system as corrupt and unconstitutional.
Constitutionalist legal theory created a two-tiered concept of citizenship
in which White people have a superior "natural law" or "sovereign" citizenship.

The most doctrinaire constitutionalists argue that only the original
U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments) are valid
and legally binding, all later amendments are not. Put into effect, this
would relegalize slavery, abolish women’s right to vote, rescind the
right of citizenship now guaranteed to all persons born in the United
States, and allow state governments to ignore the Bill of Rights itself.
Amazingly, many supporters of constitutionalism seem oblivious to the
racism and sexism inherent in this construct.

The most publicized incident involving common-law ideology was the 1996
standoff involving the Montana Freemen, who combined Christian Identity,
bogus common law legal theories, "debt-money" theories that reject the
legality of the Federal Reserve system, and apocalyptic expectation.

In another incident, three men suspected of shooting a law enforcement
officer while attempting to steal a water truck in Colorado in 1998 had
talked to friends about the coming collapse of society, using Patriot-style
rhetoric. Two of them reportedly attended meetings of a local Patriot

Many of the fears over declining sovereignty and imminent tyranny
were linked to the idea that "the UN is a critical cornerstone of the
New World Order," as one Birch Society publication put it. Opposing the
collectivist menace of global government, militia groups invoked metaphors
from libertarianism, conspiracist anticommunism, and apocalyptic millen&shy;nialism. <br>



State Citizenship:
Patriot Ties To White Supremacists And Neo-Nazis

By Tom Burghardt, Bay Area Coalition for Our Reproductive Rights





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