Tag Archives: 14th Amendment

Abolish all Family Courts!

The American Freedom Party today (September 15, 2018) agreed to endorse an original understanding of the First Amendment Establishment Clause:

The American Freedom Party agreed to my proposal to adopt and endorse, as a key plank of the party platform, the gradual abolition of the family courts and family codes at both the state and federal level, and to return all control over family and child rearing decisions to the people and only such non-governmental institutions as those to which individuals, in the exercise and delegation of their freedoms of religion and association, may wish to adopt as their own by contract.

The American Founding Fathers opposed Monarchy and sought to establish a Republic. The Family Courts (in America and elsewhere) have de facto reestablished absolutely tyrannical monarchical control over the fundamental freedoms of every individual involved in any sort of “family” (divorce or child or elder-related) dispute.

These courts, on an ad hoc basis, routinely violate every fundamental freedom. establishing arbitrary and capricious rules that defy all reason, logic, and rationality. These courts intrude and infringe upon our rights to freedom of speech and association. They intrude upon every aspect of our lives.

Original Intent: In 1787-1791, the American Colonists were only 200-250 years away from historical memory of the first Protestant “Acts of Uniformity” by which the Church of England was established, and all its sacraments (including the licensing and solemnization of marriage) adopted by Parliament.

Thus, it can be inferred that the American Founding Fathers sought forever to prevent the Federal Government from licensing or otherwise regulating marriage (or its dissolution, or child-rearing). The abuses of the Family Courts were and are so great that we must now “disestablish” all family courts, and all regulation of the “businesses of family organization and reproduction.”

14th Amendment: The American Freedom Party recognizes that certain clauses of the 14th Amendment have been interpreted in such a way as to have disastrous consequences for the American people (especially the “automatic citizenship by birth” clause, which should almost certainly be repealed).

However, the American Freedom Party wholeheartedly endorses the “doctrine of incorporation” which has developed under 14th Amendment jurisprudence, which requires that the several states apply the First Amendment and other portions of the Bill of Rights as federally guaranteed rights within the borders of each state.

Thus, just as the First Amendment prohibits all Federal Regulation of Marriage, the First Amendment, incorporated to the States, should prohibit all State regulation of marriage or its dissolution and consequences, including child custody disputes. There is simply no way of saving the Family Courts in their present form. They have become dens of corruption and iniquity, which impoverish the people, confuse and disorient both parents and children, destroy all meaning value to family life, and render the people dependent upon the arbitrary and capricious whims of government for every iota of common, everyday, happiness.

As membership campaign manager and coordinator for the AFP, I solicit your suggestions about how this can be accomplished.

I suggest a seven year transitional plan starting with the immediate abolition of all state issued marriage licenses.

To facilitate this transition, the states will institute educational programs in both the schools and for the communities.

Every individual who comes to any state agency, from the adoption of such a law forward, to apply for a marriage license will be advised to go to counseling and arrange a marital contract regarding the nature of the relationship and the expectations of the individuals to be married, including their expectations regarding child rearing and child custody upon divorce.

For the initial stages of implementation, the courts, will continue to resolve divorce petitions filed under current law, but with a mandate to respect all constitutional rights, an expedited review process for all judicial infringements on constitutional rights, and a mandate to accommodate jury demands for all issues involving money or custody.

The next stage will begin between one and three after the adoption of the reform program, and after this date, the state divorce courts will only hear cases where a couple bring forward a marital or pre-marital agreement, or two comprehensive proposals, and the court will resolve those differences.

The goal will be the final abolition of the family courts within seven years…..and after that stage, the civil courts will only be involved to the extent required to interpret, apply, enforce, modify, or (only if illegal or unconscionable) abrogate the agreements between “partners”.

State vs. National Citizenship—the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1 must be Repealed—Time to Bite the Bullet, Folks!

Donald Trump has won a lot of national support for his position that “anchor babies” are not U.S. Citizens.  https://www.yahoo.com/politics/birthright-citizenship-where-the-2016-127093585661.html

Despite their appetite for socialism and socialist engineering of U.S. Demography, I think it is fair to say that few if any the Radical Republican Framers of the Fourteenth Amendment ever dreamt of or envisioned a situation where millions of “huddled masses” and “wretched refuse ” types of people would come to America just to have babies to enroll in schools and obtain other welfare entitlements. 

No, the purpose of the Fourteenth Amendment was to create a national standard for citizenship and civil rights, and to abolish the notion that the States of the United States were equivalent to the “States” who obtain membership in the United Nations.  

State citizenship was the weakest point of Cousin Abraham’s Northern policy during the War:  while many Radical Republicans wanted to call Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, and every other Confederate Officer and Politician, a “traitor”, these charges simply would not stick for one single reason.  From 1776-1868, the individual states were the ones which established and determined citizenship, and so Lee was right to think of himself as a Virginian (about a 10th or 12th generation Virginian, in fact) by both the doctrines of ius solis and ius sanguinis.  Jefferson Davis might have been born in Kentucky, but he was a “naturalized” Mississippian.  Pierre Gustave Toutant-Beauregard was a 6th or 7th generation Louisianian, like Lee, either by ius solis or ius sanguinis

So Lee and Beauregard were unquestionably citizens of their own home states, and NOT of the United States.  They might have been employed in the armies of the United States, or, like Davis, also officers of the United States Government in its legislative (Senate) and Executive Branches (where Davis was Secretary of War).

But by every pre-War understanding, the Confederate leaders were not CAPABLE of betraying a Country WHICH NEVER EXISTED.  Like the States they belonged to, the Confederate Leaders could resign from the service of the Union, but in no legal or moral sense could they be called “traitors” to it, because (at least before 1868) the UNION WAS NOT A SINGLE SOVEREIGNTY.  Yes, indeed, quite simply, there WAS no such thing as “United States citizenship” prior to the Fourteenth Amendment—just a very generalized “American” citizenship which dependent on the collaboration and contribution of the ratifying states.  And that is why “Birth of a Nation” (by D.W. Griffith) was so correctly named: a collection of closely cooperating and allied free nation-states (small Jeffersonian Democracies) went to war with each other in 1861, and they were, afterwards, at gunpoint, forced into one single new country.

This was the debate that framed Barack Hussein Obama’s Presidency—so long as he could convince (fool?) a majority of the people into believing he was born in Hawaii, he was eligible, under the ius solis doctrine of the 14th Amendment, to be President.  But if a ius sanguinis standard should be applied, Obama’s rather famous Kenyan father stood as an absolute obstacle to his eligibility.  So as Dinesh D’Souza had shown in his brilliant movie Obama 2016, Obama’s goal as President was absolutely to abolish both the identity and nature of American society and culture.  Now the 44th President effects this transformation largely through emotionally manipulative lies and psychological manipulation, rather than democratic process or law.

But, indeed, the language of the Fourteenth Amendment’s “citizenship” clause is clear enough in making “soil” more important than “blood,” and has been consistently applied by the Supreme Court for over a hundred years to mean that literally anyone born in the United States, for any reason, automatically is an American Citizen.  This is obviously a disaster for the Country and many have written about it, including the mad Texan elf of Clearwater, Florida, Robert M. Hurt, Jr.:

Trump Is Right: Anchor Babies Do Not Rightfully Become US Citizens


What Hurt proposes is essentially changing the law by reinterpreting the law, and this often does not work so well—and could in fact be described as the source of much of modern America’s woes—allowing the Supreme Court to say that night is day and day is night is getting old, 62 years after Earl Warren became Chief Justice, 113 after Oliver Wendell Holmes brought Massachusetts “progressivism” to the Court, paving the way for the New Deal for whose eventual triumph (through popularity over constitutional rigor) Holmes might be considered a kind of Prophet….

Among Holmes’ most famous pronouncements is that, “an experiment, as all life is an experiment” (Abrams v. United States, 250 U.S. 616, 630 (1919)).  Allowing, or even encouraging, population replacement—the “Browning of America”—is among the left’s favorite long-term social goals and experiments, and (admittedly) all of us who oppose the Browning of America are classified by Salon.com, the Huffington Post, and the New York Times, among others, as vile racist reactionaries. 

But I can live with that.  As far as the way out, though, as far as how White America can preserve itself, I don’t think that verbal games such as Robert M. Hurt, Jr., Donald John Trump, and many others will work.  

No, I always prefer dealing with issues directly and in taking a “full-frontal” approach.  The Fourteenth Amendment resulted from a massive war of Centralization of Power.  The only politician in MY LIFETIME who ever addressed the problem directly was San Diego Mayor and later California Governor and Senator Pete Wilson: who directly advocated repeal of the citizenship clause of the 14th Amendment during the 1980s.  He is almost totally forgotten now, but when I was in Law School, I remember thinking his approach was sound.  Repeal of the Citizenship Clause would be clear statement that unlimited immigration and population replacement via “anchor babies” is and ought to be intolerable.

People don’t realize it, but prior to the War of 1861-65 between the North and the South, MANY NORTHERN STATES if not most of them, DENIED CITIZENSHIP of any kind to blacks.  (the last state to have such a law was Oregon, which literally made it simply illegal to “be a negro” in the State of Oregon— to enter the state at all, under any pretext, was cause for imprisonment, fine, and immediate removal to the state lines upon release.

While “the Underground Railroad” was very famous, you might ask yourself, “if Abolitionist sentiment was so strong in the North, (a) why was the underground railroad “underground” and (b) why did it end up in Canada?  The answer is that since Northern States had enacted “no black citizenship” laws, being “free” in most places meant nothing. 

The way history is taught and discussed in modern America, it’s not always quite clear, but Chief Justice Roger Taney, in Scott v. Sanford was actually adopting a MERGER of both the Northern and Southern positions in his (plurality against Freedom for Slaves by Crossing State Lines) decision in 1857 (every Justice on the Court rendered a Separate opinion in that case). 

Justice Taney said that no negro could ever be a citizen of the United States.  So he was ALREADY (by usurpation) establishing a Federal rather than a state standard of citizenship—THAT IS WHY THE FOURTEENTH AMENDMENT WAS ENACTED—the whole War Between the States and 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the Constitution can be considered an effort to Overrule the “Dred Scott” ruling— but what many people forget is that Taney had already taken the critical first step by attempting to impose NORTHERN standards of Citizenship NATIONWIDE— ironically, this ruling (if it had been allowed to stand) might well, would almost certainly, have had the bizarre effect of “outlawing” or depriving tens of thousands of free (and many slaveholding) blacks in Louisiana of their citizenship, professional licenses, and right to vote. 

So the real problem was Taney’s (1857, pre-War) judicial “stealth” transition from allowing STATES to determine Citizenship to his rather clumsy attempt to impose a NATIONWIDE standard for citizenship.  The Fourteenth Amendment was the “Radical Republican” answer to this. 

Ironic, isn’t it?, that when properly understood, the Fourteenth Amendment was just as oppressive to the Northern States as to the Southern States.  Northern States could no longer ban black people. (Although the remarkable State of Oregon did not repeal it’s African-exclusionary laws until 1926, and only ratified the Fifteenth Amendment until the centennial of that State’s admission to the Union in 1959)(Oregon’s 1844, pre-state, pre-war position on slavery was that all blacks, free or slave, should be whipped and lashed twice a year until they left the territory).

Former California Governor Pete Wilson, by contrast with both Roger Taney and Donald Trump, understood that and would have returned to the individual states the power to determine citizenship by repeal of the “birth clause” of the Fourteenth Amendment.  One can easily imagine, almost too easily, how permitting the states to determine citizenship would be nearly equivalent to allowing secession—because Hawaii, for example, could pass a law decreeing that no “Howlees” (i.e. Anglo-Saxon or other European Whites) could ever be citizens of Hawaii—and so effectively dissolve the ties between that improperly annexed Island State and the rest of “the Union.”  (Hawaii currently has the most radical and politically “real” and active secessionist movement in the USA).

Even if the States COULD determine citizenship, the balance of the 14th Amendment still protected everyone “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States with regard to Civil Rights…. so even if there were no “national standard for citizenship” there could still be a “national standard for civil rights.”

Should Private Gun Sales by Regulated by the State or Federal Governments? Well, it could be a return to slavery for all or it could be a “Great Leap Forward,” could it not? (only 2.5 million died of violence, the rest merely died of starvation)

Consider the holding of the U.S. Supreme Court in Murdock v. Pennsylvania (319 U.S. 105,  108 , 63 S.Ct. 870, 872, May 5, 1943):  

The First Amendment, which the Fourteenth makes applicable to the states, declares that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press * * *.’ It could hardly be denied that a tax laid specifically on the exercise of those freedoms would be unconstitutional. Yet the license tax imposed by this ordinance is in substance just that.

Now let’s paraphrase that statement with reference to gun control:

The Second Amendment, which the Fourteenth makes applicable to the states, declares that, ‘* * * the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”  It could hardly be  denied that a regulation laid specifically on the exercise of this right would be unconstitutional. Yet the legislation now before Congress would  imposed by its express terms as  well as substance just such an unconstitutional infringement.

Later on, the Court in Murdock made the general point more broadly and directly (319 U.S. at 113, 63 S.Ct. at 875):

A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal constitution. Thus, it may not exact a license tax for the privilege of carrying on interstate commerce * * * * A license tax applied to activities guaranteed by the First Amendment would have the same destructive effect.  * * * * It is a flat license tax levied and collected as a condition to the pursuit of activities whose enjoyment is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Accordingly, it restrains in advance those constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends to suppress their exercise. That is almost uniformly recognized as the inherent vice and evil of this flat license tax.

And again, we could easily paraphrase this text to apply to the Second Amendment, and we would be bolstered by recent Supreme Court Decisions especially 06-28-2010 McDonald v City of Chicago Ill 130 SCt 3020

(For the Full text of Murdock, see: Murdock v Com of Pennsylvania May 3 1943)(see also *2 below).

The right to self-defense is fundamental.  One who believes in the theory of Darwinian Evolution might say it is the most fundamental of all rights: once alive, every creature has the right to do whatever is necessary to preserve its life “in nature red in tooth and claw.”

But in historical as well as evolutionary time the right to self-defense antedates any rights protected by the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States because it does not depend on our humanity (where speech clearly does).  Being part of every animal’s instinctive makeup and nature, it is a right of all who are “born free.”  

I wrote recently of my conversation with a New Orleans Policeman at one of my favorite cafes: the Trolley Stop at 1923 St. Charles Avenue.  This officer (an African American) told me he believed in the Second Amendment and the right to keep and bear arms, “but do you want them to have more firepower than us?  do you want them to be able to outgun us?”

The right of government officials to have more “firepower” than the people is not fundamental, anymore than it is the right of “some animals to be more equal than others.”  Certain lions might wish for stronger jaws or sharper teeth, but none have any “right” to more than others.

Government “entitlement” to superiority on the battlefield, in a very real and direct manner, is like slavery itself: a purely human invention res contra natura alteris omnis rebus (an unnatural thing, unlike all other things).   Legislatively determined inequality of firepower is, to my mind, as utterly intolerable as inequality of speech or the rights to breathe and walk upright.  (If you order me to bow down, you had better be a King, deriving his rights from God, and if you are such a Divine King, you have the right to kill me but I have no right to kill you—and this is inherently un-American.)

As Justice Clarence Thomas has written in several opinions now, the coincidence between the abolition of slavery and the advent of gun control laws in the United States was no accident: freedom for former slaves implied the full panoply of rights available to white citizens.  For better or for worse, discrimination has never been written into the constitution, until now.  But people have been conditioned to think that discrimination against the poor is acceptable, discrimination against the non-elite middle class is acceptable, in fact ALL discrimination is acceptable so long as it is not done along racial lines, apparently.  So the government now wants to establish a hierarchical class system in relation to gun ownership.

The evolving classes, castes, and categories of citizens recognized by the Patriot Act the NDAA, and the proposed gun control legislation now before Congress are basically these: (1) Federal Government Police & their Agents, (2) State Government Police & their Agents, (3) Everyone else in North America.  I fear that these are categories or classes of people which today’s Supreme Court might just uphold as “rational” and therefore constitutional, since they are neither racial nor sexual and therefore not “suspect”—ONLY racial discrimination has been outlawed in the US, NOT discrimination by class or title or status as office or license holder….and this is an American disease or sickness that is killing the Constitution.

The chimeras haunting both American Slavery and the abolition of American Slavery are both Racial: in the beginning, the alleged Racial inferiority of Africans was asserted in Defense of Slavery, and it was widely found to be an inadequate defense.   But afterwards, in a SUPREME Perversion of logic, the Supreme Court of the United States basically rendered all the civil rights laws of the United States enacted after 1865 bad jokes: simultaneously nugatory pointless and toothless, by saying they were designed ONLY to insure equality of the races and nothing else.

Now that we have an “African” President [I would call him African rather the African-American—Jessie Jackson, Morgan Freeman, and Al Sharpton are “African Americans”, but Obama is not] the civil rights laws, it seems, can be dispensed with entirely.  

Total Power in the Hands of Government: this ultimately, appears to be Obama’s goal in life—his self-perceived destiny, his ambition (and his goals are supported by a remarkably broad coalition including obvious evil-doers Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, but treacherous snakes such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham).

The long “road to serfdom” that began with the map laid out by the Communist Manifesto in February 1848, finding its first governmental foundation laid down by Abraham Lincoln in the United States 1861-65, and was afterwards expanded into a highway under Progressives such as Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the possibly unwitting (or just witless) Woodrow Wilson, then a superhighway under Franklin D. Roosevelt and all his successors, is about to reach its final destination in the Dictatorship of the Proletariat if Barack Hussein Obama can just disarm the American People FOREVER!

The Courts have been heading in this general direction (the abolition of civil rights all together, once and for all, forget about giving any rights to black or white people) for a very long time.  In fact, the entire purpose of Earl Warren’s Civil Right’s Revolution in the Courts, in retrospect, was simply to pit race-against-race, to create unhealthy envy and hateful one-upsmanship rather than healthy competition.  

True, there are some majestic, wonderful opinions and some beautiful language I have found in those old decisions from the 1960s and 1970s in particular, mostly petering out around 1985-6.  Very little GOOD has happened in civil rights since 1987, but, strange as it may seem, the recent jurisprudence of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court has created at least one “Point of Light” in Second Amendment Jurisprudence in particular.  Ordinarily, political rhetoric concerning the lessons of or effects lingering slavery becomes tiresome quickly.  But in the case of the Second Amendment after emancipation, nothing could be clearer than the need of former slaves to own guns to protect their newly acquired liberty and property (even as limited as it was for most of the century and a half since emancipation).  

Abolition of the private right to keep and bear arms, without much doubt, is a RETURN TO SLAVERY FOR ALL, regardless of race, creed, color, ethnic origin, religion, sex, or occupation—unless you are a member of the police.  The State will then have an ABSOLUTE monopoly on legitimate violence, and the jails and prisons will be filled with all dissenting individuals.

Aside from Clarence Thomas, who will defend us against the threatened confiscation of our only sure means of self-defense AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT?  Anthony Kennedy, painfully and unhappily, stands as at least an occasional beacon for individual privacy and personal autonomy. Antonin Scalia would probably be a constitutionalist if it were politically popular, but he appears to believe that legislatures and congress can limit the constitution pretty much at will if they want to.  So Scalia’s contributions to “freedom” jurisprudence are pretty much limited to the realm of “judge made” law and precedent.  We need two more votes—perhaps we have Samuel Anthony Alito (*), John Roberts, Stephen G. Breyer?  Maybe or maybe not.  John Roberts appears to blow with the political winds like Scalia.  Breyer would probably follow Hillary Clinton’s anti-gun lead.  It looks bad, folks!

But to go back to the key point of Murdock v. Pennsylvania and its companion cases (e.g. Douglas v City of Jeannette (Pennsylvania) 319 US 157 63 SCt 882 87 LEd 1324 *1943* and Jones v City of Opelika:

the power to regulate commerce does NOT include the power to infringe upon the fundamental rights guaranteed by Amendments 1-10.   As legions of Law Professors have correctly pointed out, this concept (that there MUST BE an exception to Congress’ broad regulatory power, even after the onset of the New Deal) traces back most precisely to Footnote Four of U.S. v. Carolene Products, Inc., decided in 1938. US v Carolene Products Co 304 US 144 58 SCt 778 82 LEd 1234 SCOTUS 04-25-1938.

Given the advances in Second Amendment Jurisprudence seen over the past decade in D.C. v. Heller and MacDonald v. City of Chicago, I would hate to see this Country take another Great Leap Forward (*1)  into Maoist Communist Dictatorship. 

So, should Private Gun Sales be Regulated by the State or Federal Government? Only if we want to take a Great Leap Forward into a de facto Communistic Caste System, or an animal farm where “Some Animals are More Equal than Others”

(*1)  Wikipedia casually and very briefly mentions in a longer and very favorable, supportive (i.e. pro-communist, pro-Maoist) article on the Great Leap Forward:

Deaths by violence

Not all deaths during the Great Leap were from starvation. Frank Dikötter estimates that at least 2.5 million people were beaten or tortured to death and 1 to 3 million committed suicide.[100] He provides some illustrative examples. In Xinyang, where over a million died in 1960, 6-7 percent (around 67,000) of these were beaten to death by the militias. In Daoxian county, 10 percent of those who died had been “buried alive, clubbed to death or otherwise killed by party members and their militia.” In Shimen county, around 13,500 died in 1960, of these 12 per cent were “beaten or driven to their deaths.”[101]

Modes of resistance

There were various forms of resistance to the Great Leap Forward. Several provinces saw armed rebellion,[106][107] though these rebellions never posed a serious threat to the Central Government.[106] Rebellions are documented to have occurred in HonanShandongQinghaiGansuSichuanFujian, and Yunnan provinces and in the Tibetan Autonomous Region.[108][109] In Honan, Shandong, Qinghai, Gansu, and Sichuan, these rebellions lasted more than a year.[109] Aside from rebellions, there was also occasional violence against cadre members.[107][110] Raids on granaries,[107][110] arson and other vandalism, train robberies, and raids on neighboring villages and counties were common.[110]

According to over 20 years of research by Ralph Thaxton, professor of politics at Brandeis University, villagers turned against the CPC during and after the Great Leap, seeing it as autocratic, brutal, corrupt, and mean-spirited.[1] The CPC’s policies, which included plunder, forced labor, and starvation, according to Thaxton, led villagers “to think about their relationship with the Communist Party in ways that do not bode well for the continuity of socialist rule.”[1]

Often, villagers composed doggerel to show their defiance to the regime, and “perhaps, to remain sane.” During the Great Leap, one jingle ran: “Flatter shamelessly—eat delicacies…. Don’t flatter—starve to death for sure.”[34]

Impact on the government

Many local officials were tried and publicly executed for giving out misinformation.[111]

Mao stepped down as State Chairman of the PRC in 1959, though he did retain his position as Chairman of the CPC. Liu Shaoqi (the new PRC Chairman) and reformist Deng Xiaoping (CPC General Secretary) were left in charge to change policy to bring about economic recovery. Mao’s Great Leap Forward policy came under open criticism at the Lushan party conference. The attack was led by Minister of National Defense Peng Dehuai, who, initially troubled by the potentially adverse effect of the Great Leap Forward on the modernization of the armed forces, also admonished unnamed party members for trying to “jump into communism in one step.” After the Lushan showdown, Mao defensively replaced Peng with Lin Biao.

However, in June 1962, the party held an enlarged Central Work Conference and rehabilitated the majority of the deposed comrades who had criticized Mao in the aftermath of the Great Leap Forward. The event was again discussed, with much self-criticism, with the contemporary government calling it a “serious [loss] to our country and people” and blaming the cult of personality of Mao.

(*2)  A state may not impose a charge for the enjoyment of a right granted by the federal constitution. Thus, it may not exact a license tax for the privilege of carrying on interstate commerce (McGoldrick v. Berwind-White Co., 309 U.S. 33, 56-58, 60 S.Ct. 388, 397, 398, 84 L.Ed. 565, 128 A.L.R. 876), although it may tax the property used in, or the income derived from, that commerce, so long as those taxes are not discriminatory. Id., 309 U.S. at page 47, 60 S.Ct. at page 392, 84 L.Ed. 565, 128 A.L.R. 876 and cases cited. A license tax applied to activities guaranteed by the First Amendment would have the same destructive effect. It is true that the First Amendment, like the commerce clause, draws no distinction between license taxes, fixed sum taxes, and other kinds of taxes. But that is no reason why we should shut our eyes to the nature of the tax and its destructive influence. The power to impose a license tax on the exercise of these freedoms is indeed as potent as the power of censorship which this Court has repeatedly struck down.  *   *   *   *   *   *   * [I]n Jones v. Opelika, * * * 316 U.S. at pages 607-609, 620, 623, 62 S.Ct. at pages 1243, 1244, 1250, 1251, 86 L.Ed. 1691, 141 A.L.R. 514 * * * as in the present ones, we have something very different from a registration system under which those going from house to house are required to give their names, addresses and other marks of identification to the authorities. In all of these cases the issuance of the permit or license is dependent on the payment of a license tax. And the license tax is fixed in amount and unrelated to the scope of the activities of petitioners or to their realized revenues. It is not a nominal fee *114 imposed as a regulatory measure to defray the expenses of policing the activities in question. 8 It is in no way apportioned. It is a flat license tax levied and collected as a condition to the pursuit of activities whose enjoyment is guaranteed by the First Amendment. Accordingly, it restrains in advance those constitutional liberties of press and religion and inevitably tends to suppress their exercise. That is almost uniformly recognized as the inherent vice and evil of this flat license tax.

(*3): do you ever why do we have or how we got three justices named “Anthony” or a rare Italian variant “Antonin”>|?)

Confusion on the Front: Obfuscation and a Mockery of Uninformed Constitutionalist/Patriotism Appearance can sometimes confuse the Courts to a Defendant’s Advantage, but is it worth the perversion of serious complaints?

Sometimes, a little knowledge is said to be a dangerous thing, or is it?  Does nonsense, if it works to confound the enemy, work as well or better than well-reasoned, logical argument?   Is insanity more terrifying than powerful thinking?  Perhaps it is….but as I’ve previously noted, I do not like the “fringe” arguments advanced by many people in the Patriotic/Constitutionalist movement.  They are too wacky.  It just gets depressing, sometimes, to hear about how applying admiralty rules in cases on dry land with no boats or interpreting every legal doctrine through the UCC will solve all our problems and reveal all truth.  On the one hand, I am happy whenever a defendant can fight back the heavy hand of the law, especially while proceeding pro se, because I agree that most defense lawyers, maybe close to 100%, are all lined up against the American People with the prosecutors, and that is why the criminal justice process is essentially a conveyor belt packaging the accused by the hundreds of thousands into jail.  Usually for nothing, that’s right NOTHING.  Most people in jail pose NO threat to society or themselves, and their presence in jail benefits society as a whole ONLY as part of a cynical government “make-work” project—i.e., a form of “welfare.”  The criminal justice system as it exists today in the United States is both offensive to the Constitution and to the universal ideals of freedom and individual integrity.   However, the myths of the patriotic/constitutionalist movement are in and of themselves nothing but a mockery of the real constitutional problems.  It is NOT just White Supremacists who oppose the subversion of the Original Constitution, and yes, a lot of perverted things DID happen around and after the American Civil War/War between the States. 

Kevin Carey, research and policy manager of Education Sector, an independent think tank in Washington, DC, wrote the folloiwng article “Too Weird for the Wire: How black Baltimore drug dealers are using white supremacist legal theories to confound the Feds” in the Washington Monthly, published at:


On November 16, 2005, Willie “Bo” Mitchell and three co-defendants—Shelton “Little Rock” Harris, Shelly “Wayne” Martin, and Shawn Earl Gardner— appeared for a hearing in the modern federal courthouse in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The four African American men were facing federal charges of racketeering, weapons possession, drug dealing, and five counts of first-degree murder. For nearly two years the prosecutors had been methodically building their case, with the aim of putting the defendants to death. In Baltimore, which has a murder rate eight times higher than that of New York City, such cases are depressingly commonplace.

A few minutes after 10 a.m., United States District Court Judge Andre M. Davis took his seat and began his introductory remarks. Suddenly, the leader of the defendants, Willie Mitchell, a short, unremarkable looking twenty-eight-yearold with close-cropped hair, leapt from his chair, grabbed a microphone, and launched into a bizarre soliloquy.

“I am not a defendant,” Mitchell declared. “I do not have attorneys.” The court “lacks territorial jurisdiction over me,” he argued, to the amazement of his lawyers. To support these contentions, he cited decades-old acts of Congress involving the abandonment of the gold standard and the creation of the Federal Reserve. Judge Davis, a Baltimore-born African American in his late fifties, tried to interrupt. “I object,” Mitchell repeated robotically. Shelly Martin and Shelton Harris followed Mitchell to the microphone, giving the same speech verbatim. Their attorneys tried to intervene, but when Harris’s lawyer leaned over to speak to him, Harris shoved him away.

Judge Davis ordered the three defendants to be removed from the court, and turned to Gardner, who had, until then, remained quiet. But Gardner, too, intoned the same strange speech. “I am Shawn Earl Gardner, live man, flesh and blood,” he proclaimed. Every time the judge referred to him as “the defendant” or “Mr. Gardner,” Gardner automatically interrupted: “My name is Shawn Earl Gardner, sir.” Davis tried to explain to Gardner that his behavior was putting his chances of acquittal or leniency at risk. “Don’t throw your life away,” Davis pleaded. But Gardner wouldn’t stop. Judge Davis concluded the hearing, determined to find out what was going on.

As it turned out, he wasn’t alone. In the previous year, nearly twenty defendants in other Baltimore cases had begun adopting what lawyers in the federal courthouse came to call “the flesh-and-blood defense.” The defense, such as it is, boils down to this: As officers of the court, all defense lawyers are really on the government’s side, having sworn an oath to uphold a vast, century-old conspiracy to conceal the fact that most aspects of the federal government are illegitimate, including the courts, which have no constitutional authority to bring people to trial. The defendants also believed that a legal distinction could be drawn between their name as written on their indictment and their true identity as a “flesh and blood man.”

Judge Davis and his law clerk pored over the case files, which led them to a series of strange Web sites. The fleshand- blood defense, they discovered, came from a place far from Baltimore, from people as different from Willie Mitchell as people could possibly be. Its antecedents stretched back decades, involving religious zealots, gun nuts, tax protestors, and violent separatists driven by theories that had fueled delusions of Aryan supremacy and race war in gun-loaded compounds in the wilds of Montana and Idaho. Although Mitchell and his peers didn’t know it, they were inheriting the intellectual legacy of white supremacists who believe that America was irrevocably broken when the 14th Amendment provided equal rights to former slaves. It was the ideology that inspired the Oklahoma City bombing, the biggest act of domestic terrorism in the nation’s history, and now, a decade later, it had somehow sprouted in the crime-ridden ghettos of Baltimore.

The series of events that led to the prosecution of Willie Mitchell et al are as convoluted, tragic and intermittently absurd as an episode of HBO’s acclaimed Baltimore crime drama, The Wire. Mitchell and company came of age on the streets of West Baltimore, a few miles and a world away from the rejuvenated inner harbor and the tourist attractions near the federal courthouse. According to prosecutors, the group began selling drugs together as teenagers in the mid-1990s, driving up I-95 to New York City, buying half kilos of cocaine in upper Manhattan and cooking it into crack to sell back home. They added heroin to their repertoire a few years later, as well as robbing and killing other drug dealers. By 2002, they were firmly established in what passes as normal enterprise in a hollowed-out economy like Baltimore, where the drug trade often provides more opportunity than legitimate work and the bedrock institutions of family and school have crumbled. They had children out of wedlock with multiple women. They were occasionally arrested, although they never served much time. It was an insular culture where a ruthless prohibition against “snitching” to the police was often more powerful than any law. Even as cities like New York saw the murder rate decline dramatically, drug killings in Baltimore continued at a steady clip.

According to the indictment, the end began on February 18, 2002, in a downtown Baltimore nightclub called Hammerjacks, where Mitchell got into a dispute and stabbed a fellow drug dealer in the back, seriously wounding him. If Mitchell had hoped to get away with this attempted murder, he was swiftly and brutally set straight by the drug dealer’s associates. When police on patrol found Mitchell later that evening, he was on a sidewalk with several men jumping on his head. Mitchell survived the assault, but he remained in serious trouble. The police had issued a warrant for his arrest; more ominously, his enemies had placed a $10,000 contract on his head.

Mitchell probably didn’t know exactly what his enemies had in mind, but he was seasoned enough to realize that they wanted him killed. Ten days after the club incident, prosecutors allege, he made a phone call to an associate of the men who had beaten him up. The associate was a drug dealer named Oliver “Woody” McCaffity. Mitchell proposed that the two men meet that evening for a drug deal.

Neither man came to the meeting alone. Mitchell brought a friend, Shelton Harris. McCaffity brought his sometime girlfriend, Lisa Brown. Brown was a pastor’s daughter, a computer systems analyst and mother of three. Her parents told reporters that she had broken up with McCaffity after learning of his involvement with drugs. But when he called and invited her to the movies, she decided to go along.

The two parties drove to the Park Heights section of Northwest Baltimore. It was a quick meeting. Mitchell and Harris climbed into the backseat of McCaffity’s Infiniti Q-45. Then they shot McCaffity through the head and fired through Brown’s raised right hand into her left temple, where police later found a .357 caliber bullet. The bodies of McCaffity and Brown were left in the car, which rolled downhill and rammed into a nearby tree at the dead-end of the street. Police found it two hours later. A palm print on the car window was later matched to Harris, and McCaffity’s cell phone records revealed calls that night to Mitchell’s phone. Mitchell, suspecting that McCaffity’s associates were going to try to kill him, had apparently decided to kill first. The murder would probably not have attracted much attention, except for the fact that McCaffity’s Infiniti was owned by Hasim Rahman, the recently dethroned heavyweight boxing champion of the world. McCaffity was a friend and business associate of Rahman, causing the ex-champ to quickly call a press conference denying any involvement in the crimes. (Police have never alleged otherwise.)

If the killing of McCaffity and Brown had been a successful preemptive strike, Mitchell was also prepared to kill for more mundane reasons. On March 24, a few weeks after the Mc- Caffity murder, Mitchell allegedly called a former high school classmate named Darryl Wyche and offered to buy some heroin and cocaine from him. Darryl, excited by the prospect of a big sale, agreed. The two made plans to meet in a nearby industrial park around midnight.

Again, neither party came alone. Wyche brought his younger brother Tony, who had reluctantly agreed to drive. Mitchell brought Harris again, as well as two more friends: Shelly Martin and Shawn Gardner.

The Wyche brothers opened the back door of their Honda to let Mitchell and his men into the back seat. Then each received a bullet in the side of the head. The next morning the police found the bodies, seat belts still on. (Mitchell appears to have seen Wyche as an easy source of drugs and cash.)

But Mitchell’s luck was about to end. When Baltimore homicide detectives found the bodies of the Wyche brothers, they assumed they had come across another hard-to-solve drug killing. Then they received an unexpected phone call. It was from Darryl Wyche’s mother-in-law, who reported finding a strange message on her phone. Recorded at 12:43 a.m., the message was four and a half minutes of a group of men with names like “Wayne” and “Shorty” saying things like “Bup-bup-bup-bup-bup, yo, they both fucked.” The call had come from the cellphone of Darryl Wyche.

Wyche’s family and the police soon figured out what had happened: One of the murderers had stolen Darryl Wyche’s phone and forgotten to turn it off. While the killers were driving away, one of them had accidentally pressed the phone’s speed dial button, calling Darryl’s mother-in-law and producing a most unusual piece of evidence: a voicemail confession. With considerable understatement, a lieutenant in the city homicide unit reflected on his good fortune to the Baltimore Sun. “We got lucky,” he said. Willie Mitchell and Shelly Martin were soon rounded up and put in jail.

What would become the fifth and final murder charge in the case of Willie Mitchell and his cohorts took place two months later. This time, only Mitchell’s friend Shawn Gardner was directly involved. It began with a man named Darius Spence, who had found out that his wife, Tanya, was cheating on him with a local drug dealer everyone called “Momma.”

Spence decided to have Momma beaten up severely. To accomplish this, he negotiated with another drug dealer named Willie Montgomery. Would Montgomery be willing to beat up Momma in exchange for money? But Montgomery had another proposition altogether. Beating Momma up didn’t make sense, Montgomery argued, because then Momma would undoubtedly try to kill Montgomery. It was better just to kill Momma outright, and for five thousand dollars, Montgomery would be glad to do the job. Spence said he’d think it over.

Unfortunately for Darius Spence, Montgomery wasn’t interested in waiting around for an answer. Instead, sensing opportunity, Montgomery decided to tell Momma about the hit. If I turn down the deal, Montgomery explained, then Spence will probably just hire someone else to kill you. Therefore, Montgomery reasoned, you should hire me to kill Spence first. Momma was persuaded. (As Montgomery later explained to the prosecutors, “I guess he like that idea better than Darius Spence’s idea.”)

To execute the hit on Spence, Montgomery recruited two associates, one of whom was Shawn Gardner. For the next two months, the three men staked out Spence’s apartment. The plan was for Shawn Gardner and his associate to invade from the basement and carry out the killing, and then run to a nearby getaway car, which was to be driven by Montgomery. Special care was to be taken not to harm Tanya, and they would cover her eyes with duct tape to prevent her from identifying them. Still, Montgomery warned Momma that he couldn’t guarantee Tanya’s safety. “If it’s up to me, she won’t be hurt,” Montgomery told Momma, “but some things could go wrong.” Momma’s reply was to the point: “Do what you do.”

On June 7, 2002, the three men drove to the Spence apartment, a worn red brick building at the end of a cul-de-sac a few miles from Baltimore city. But the hit didn’t go as planned. Darius Spence wasn’t in the apartment, and they didn’t manage to blindfold Tanya. As children played outside the Spence apartment, Tanya burst through the kitchen door on the third floor, screaming, “No! No!” Lifting one leg over the balcony, she tried to climb down to the floor below but lost her grip and fell fifteen feet to the ground, landing a few feet from the children. Gasping for breath, she motioned for them to run away before crawling under the first floor balcony. Moments later, the two killers emerged from the Spence apartment, ran down the steps and stopped a few feet from Tanya, now lying in the fetal position in the dirt and begging for her life. One pulled out a large caliber revolver and fired two shots into Tanya’s chest as the children watched. Then both men ran away.

Unfortunately for the killers, Montgomery wasn’t where they thought he’d be. Somehow the meeting place had gotten confused, and the getaway failed. Police quickly apprehended Shawn Gardner and his associate. Eventually, the law caught up to Montgomery, too.

Gardner was tried, convicted, and sentenced in state court to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder of Tanya Spence. Meanwhile, Willie Mitchell and Shelly Martin were charged by the state with the Wyche brothers’ killings and sat in prison for the next year and a half as police and prosecutors assembled their case.

Then, on January 22, 2004—nearly two years after the first four murders—the word came down from the office of U.S. Attorney Thomas DiBiagio: the Willie Mitchell case was going federal, and the government was seeking the death penalty. The Justice Department, DiBiagio explained, was going after “individuals responsible for making life hell in Baltimore.”

For Mitchell and company, this was bad news. Instead of jurors selected from the city pool, Mitchell would likely be judged by an all-white panel of citizens from places like Maryland’s westernmost rural counties or the far reaches of the Eastern Shore. He would face better-funded prosecutors, and was far more likely to get the death penalty. Maryland has only executed five people in the last thirty years, but in 2005, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft was aggressively seeking death sentences. In fact, the Justice Department was even retrying cases in order to win death penalties for crimes like the Spence murder, for which Shawn Gardner was already serving life without parole.

DiBiagio’s office also added a raft of conspiracy charges to the indictment, filed under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. By alleging that the defendants were part of an organized conspiracy— the so-called “Willie Mitchell organization”—prosecutors could hold all four defendants responsible for any of the crimes the others had committed. That’s why Shelton Harris, who wasn’t originally arrested for the Wyche or the McCaffity and Brown murders, was pulled off the street and charged with the full slate of crimes. It’s also why Mitchell and Harris were charged with the Spence murder, although they were already in jail when Shawn Gardner committed it. RICO is normally applied to members of the mafia and organized crime, and its use sent a clear message: the government was coming at Mitchell and company with everything it had.

The prosecutors bolstered the conspiracy argument by noting that, unlike most Baltimore drug dealers, Mitchell and company had incorporated a legal entity for which they all worked and allegedly funneled proceeds of their drug business into: “Shake Down Entertainment, Ltd.” The group promoted rap CDs and concerts through the company, which even had its own record label, “Shystyville.” Soon, Shystyville CDs with titles like “Pure Shit” became evidence of not just the conspiracy but the crimes themselves, with prosecutors entering into the record lyrics like these:

I watch ya brains fly all over on the bitch next to you
Homeboy it’s up to you I could put this pup to you
Then to pumpin’ you up like a innertube
Send shots that’ll pump up the end of you
Leave you all fat and bloated you know I keep
the Mac loaded then I like ta clack rollin’
That’s why Bo and Weez on lock now and every day on lock down
Niggas getting shot down for runnin’ they mouth clown
Tell me how it feels with a gun in ya mouth now

Prosecutors alleged that the “bitch next to you” was Lisa Brown, who was sitting beside Oliver McCaffity when he was shot through the head, that a “pup” is slang for the largecaliber revolver used in the killing, that the “Bo” on “lock now” was the imprisoned Willie “Bo” Mitchell, and that the reference to “Niggas getting shot for runnin’ they mouth” amounted to witness intimidation. Faced with the prospect of an all-white jury hearing this music in the courtroom, the defense lawyers objected on the grounds that lots of songs have lyrics that “proudly refer to violent retaliation,” offering by way of example country star Toby Keith’s “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American).”

Nearly two years passed. The wheels of justice were turning, slowly but surely. Then came the memorable hearing in which the defendants debuted the flesh-and-blood defense. After that, everything changed.

A  month after the hearing, Judge Davis took the unusual step of issuing a written opinion denying all of the defendant’s “unusual—if not bizarre” arguments. “Perhaps they would even be humorous,” Davis wrote, “were the stakes not so high … It is truly ironic that four African- American defendants here apparently rely on an ideology derived from a famously discredited notion: the illegitimacy of the Fourteenth Amendment.” One can understand his incredulity that four Baltimore drug dealers might invoke a racist argument that dates back to the nineteenth century. But as it turns out, that’s when the seeds of the flesh-and-blood defense were sown.

In 1878, southern Democrats pushed legislation through Congress limiting the ability of the federal government to marshal troops on U.S. soil. Known as Posse Comitatus, (Latin for “power of the county”) the law’s authors hoped to constrain the government’s ability to protect black southerners from violence and discrimination. The act symbolically marked the end of Reconstruction and the beginning of Jim Crow.

For the next eight decades, black Americans lived under the yoke of institutional racism. But by the late 1950s, the civil rights movement was growing in strength. In 1957, President Eisenhower sent 1,200 troops from the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, so that nine black students could safely enter a previously all-white high school. The landmark Civil Rights Act followed in 1964.

These developments horrified one William Gale, a World War II veteran, insurance salesman, self-styled minister of racist Christian Identity theology, and raving anti-Semite. In 1971, he launched a movement whose impact would reverberate through the radical fringes of American society for decades to come. He called it Posse Comitatus, named for the 1878 law he believed Eisenhower had violated by sending the troops to Little Rock. In a series of tapes and self-published pamphlets, Gale explained that county sheriffs were the supreme legal law enforcement officers in the land, and that county residents had the right to form a posse to enforce the Constitution—however they, as “sovereign citizens,” chose to interpret it. Public officials who interfered, instructed Gale, should be “hung by the neck” at high noon.

Gale’s racist beliefs were hardly unique. His singular innovation was to devise a “legal” philosophy that was enormously appealing to disaffected, alienated citizens. It was a promise of power, a means of asserting that they were the true inheritors of the founding fathers’ ideal, a dream they believed had been corrupted by a vast conspiracy that only they could see. Gale’s ideas gave people on the paranoid edge of society a collective identity. It told them what they desperately wanted to hear: that the federal government was illegitimate, and that the legal weapons the state used to oppress them could be turned against the state.

Soon, Posses were sprouting across the country, attracting veterans of the 1960s-era tax protest movement, Second Amendment absolutists, Christian Identity adherents, and ardent anti-communists who had abandoned the John Birch Society because they felt the organization wasn’t extreme enough. Local groups would meet to share literature, listen to tapes of Gale’s sermons, and discuss preparations for the approaching End Times. This extremist stew produced exotic amalgamations of paranoia, such as when Posse members would explain the need for local militias to stockpile weapons in order to defend white Christians from blacks in the coming race war sparked by the inevitable economic collapse caused by the income tax and a cabal of international Jewish bankers bent on global dominance through one world government, for Satan.

While local Posses would periodically confront law enforcement officials in the 1970s, (usually in property disputes), they were often incompetent, and few people were hurt. But things took a serious turn in 1978, when thousands of farmers rallied in Washington D.C. seeking relief from low commodity prices, high interest rates, and farm debt. When Congressional relief attempts failed, some farmers became susceptible to peddlers of the Posse ideology, which preached that the farm crisis had been brought on by the international Jewish banking conspiracy, abandonment of the gold standard and a malevolent Federal Reserve.

By 1982, Bill Gale had flown to Kansas to conduct paramilitary training and indoctrination for splinter groups of disaffected farmers. At night, a country music station in Dodge City broadcast tapes of Gale’s sermons. “You’re either going to get back to the Constitution of the United States in your government,” he intoned, “or officials are gonna hang by the neck until they’re dead … Arise and fight! If a Jew comes near you, run a sword through him.” As Posse ideology rippled across the distressed farm belt, violence followed. Several deadly confrontations between Posse adherents and law enforcement made national headlines; Geraldo Rivera descended on Nebraska to document the “Seeds of Hate” in America’s heartland. By 1987, Gale’s rhetoric had escalated further. He told his followers that “You’ve got an enemy government running around … its source and its location is Washington, D.C., and the federal buildings they’ve built with your tax money all over the cities in this land.”

Hucksters and charlatans prowled the Midwest as the farm crisis deepened, selling desperate farmers expensive seminars and prepackaged legal defenses “guaranteed” to cancel debts and forestall foreclosure. Since the gold standard had been abandoned in 1933, they argued, money had no inherent value, and so neither did their debts. All they had to do, farmers were told, was opt out of the system by sending a letter to the appropriate authorities renouncing their driver’s license, birth certificate, and social security number. That number was allegedly tied to a secret government account held in a secure subterranean facility in lower Manhattan, where citizens are used as collateral against international debts issued by the Fed and everyone’s name is on a master list, spelled in capital letters—the very same capital letters used in the official court documents detailing foreclosure and other actions against them. The capital letter name was nothing but an artificial construct, they were told, a legal “straw man.” It wasn’t them—natural, live, flesh and blood men.

Bill Gale died on April 28, 1988, three months after being sentenced in federal court for conspiracy, tax crimes, and mailing death threats to the Internal Revenue Service. By that time, the farm crisis had begun to recede. Posse ideology simmered for the next few years, morphing into the “Christian Patriot” movement, which sanded down some of the roughest racist and anti-Semitic edges while retaining the core beliefs of Constitutional fundamentalism. The patriots saw themselves as “sovereign citizens,” unlike the “federal citizens” who had been created by the 14th Amendment’s guarantee of equal protection under the law.

The deadly confrontations between federal agents and extremists at Ruby Ridge in 1992 and Waco, Texas in 1993 brought latent anger with the federal government back to a boil. The militia movement of the 1990s built on Posse tenets of county- based, self-organized paramilitary groups led by citizens expressing their basic Constitutional rights. Most groups stuck with conducting survivalist training camps and filing bogus liens against houses owned by local judges. But a few did much more.

In 1993, a Michigan farmer and survivalist named James Nichols was pulled over for speeding. Instead of simply paying the fine, he argued in court that his “sovereign citizen” status made him immune to prosecution. That same year, James’ brother Terry tried to pay off a $17,000 debt with a fake check issued by a radical “family farm preservation” group run by Posse adherents. Two years later, Terry Nichols helped to bring the Posse’s anti-government hatred to its ultimate fruition. On April 18, 1995, he and a friend named Timothy McVeigh loaded 108 fifty-pound bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer into a Ryder truck. The next day, McVeigh bombed the Murrah federal building in Oklahoma City, killing 168 people on the second anniversary of Waco.

After the attack, the Feds began cracking down on white supremacist groups, including one called the “Montana Freemen,” who were, in the words of hate-group expert Daniel Levitas, “the direct ideological descendants of the Posse Comitatus.” (Levitas’ book, The Terrorist Next Door, contains the definitive account of Bill Gale and the Posse.) The Freemen were arrested in their isolated compound after a threemonth standoff with the FBI. At trial, they filed an array of bizarre documents citing the Fed, the gold standard, the 14th Amendment, and the Uniform Commercial Code, but to no avail. They were sent to the maximum security “Supermax” federal prison in Florence, Colorado, where they remain today.

But the appeal of their anti-government dogma didn’t disappear. The Freemen continued to attract sympathizers outside Supermax walls. Some collected the documents the Freemen filed during their trial and began offering them for sale via adver tisements in “America’s Bulletin,” a newsletter espousing Posse- style anti-government theories that is widely distributed throughout the prison system by white supremacists.

In October 2004, a prisoner named Michael Burpee arrived at the Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center in downtown Baltimore. Burpee had recently been convicted in Florida of trafficking PCP to Maryland. Hoping for leniency, he pled guilty, only to receive a twenty seven-year prison sentence dictated by harsh federal sentencing guidelines. Desperate for a way out, he began listening to someone—presumably a fellow prisoner—who explained how the charges were all part of a secret government conspiracy against him. Then Burpee was brought up on new federal drug charges in Maryland, and shipped north. He carried with him a pile of documents that were remarkably similar to those that had been filed by the Montana Freemen.

In Baltimore, Burpee found a group of inmates at the margins of society, people like Willie Mitchell and company who were staring at the full force of the federal government. As one defense attorney representing a flesh-and-blood defendant put it, they “saw a freight train coming and felt three feet tall.” Soon the unorthodox legal filings and courtroom outbursts began to multiply. It was, one public defender later explained, “like an infection that was invading our client population of pre-trial detainees.” Burpee appears to have been patient zero in the epidemic. For over a year, he harangued his lawyers and judge about the conspiracy and spread the word in the Baltimore lockup. Then, in a stroke of bad luck for the public defender’s office, the U.S. Attorney’s office decided to drop the charges against Burpee—perhaps reasoning that he wasn’t worth the hassle considering that he had already been sentenced to twenty-seven years. For Burpee’s peers, the decision imbued the flesh-and-blood defense with legitimacy and the hope of freedom.

Before long, the relatives of the defendants were scanning Web sites like http://www.redemptionservice.com, which offers maps showing how Satanic runes were secretly incorporated into the street plan of Washington, D.C., and a deluxe package of instructions for renouncing one’s social security number for only $3,900, payable by check or money order.

Like the Midwestern farmers before them, the Baltimore inmates were susceptible to the notion that the federal government was engaged in a massive, historic plot to deprive them of life, liberty, and property. Such suspicions are prevalent in certain pockets of the black community—that year, a study from the Rand Corporation found that over 25 percent of African Americans surveyed believed the AIDS virus was developed by the government, and 12 percent thought it was released into the population by the CIA. And black separatist groups like the Nation of Islam—also fond of conspiracy theories—have long cultivated members through the prison system; some of these groups have explicitly adopted the language of constitutional fundamentalists. Given these developments, Levitas told me, “I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner.”

This, then, was how Willie Mitchell came to draw on the accumulated layers of three decades of right-wing paranoia and demand that his case be dismissed “in accord with … House Joint Resolution 192, and Public Law 73-10”—laws that involved the abandonment of the gold standard and the Federal Reserve. And it explained why Shawn Gardner kept insisting that he be addressed as “Shawn-Earl: Gardner,” rather than the capital-letter SHAWN GARDNER printed on the indictment: he thought that if he could convince the court to call him by his “natural” name, it would be tantamount to admitting that the charges had been filed against someone else.

On the morning of January 10, 2006, two months after the first flesh-and-blood hearing, Gardner returned to Judge Davis’s courtroom. Moments after Davis arrived, Gardner stood up. “I object,” he said, over and over, until Judge Davis had finally had enough. “Do you know what you’re doing?” he asked Gardner. “You are committing suicide in broad daylight. There are public suicides in this country far too often. People jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, the Brooklyn Bridge. People walk into their workplaces with a gun and put the gun up to their head and pull the trigger. People slash their wrists. I don’t want you to join that community, but that’s what you’re doing, sir.”

Gardner tried to argue that the court had no power over him under “common law.” “At common law,” Judge Davis replied, “you were property. You were bought and sold just like those Timberlands on your feet today can be bought and sold. That’s what your ancestors were, some of them, and that is what my ancestors were, some of them.”

“You have invoked ideas formulated and advanced by people who think less of you than they think of dirt,” Davis continued. “The extremists who have concocted these ideas that you are now advancing in this courtroom are laughing their heads off. You are giving them everything they ever wished for. They should be paying you to do what you are doing. They are going to make you the poster child for their movement. When you complete this suicide, they will honor you because you are doing their work, better and more effectively than any of them ever dreamed they could do. Some of them—” “I object,” said Gardner, interrupting. “The government wants to do the same thing anyway. So what’s the difference?”

Gardner, unrepentant, was escorted from the courtroom. And so the tenets of Posse Comitatus continued their long, strange journey, from the racist, hate-filled mind of William Gale to four black defendants on trial for their life in Baltimore federal court.

A  little more than a year after the November 2005 hearing, the flesh-and-blood phenomenon took another twist. A key part of the conspiracy indictment against Mitchell et al was the allegation that the defendants acted together in pursuit of criminal goals. The seemingly choreographed speeches and the identical filings, all submitted on the same day and mailed by the same person, suggested that the four defendants were going to great lengths to coordinate their actions, despite being housed in separate prison facilities and having no obvious means of communication. Ergo, evidence that the conspiracy was continuing in jail. The U.S. Attorney’s office also added new charges of felony obstruction of justice, citing the disruptive nature of the fleshand- blood defense. The prosecutors weren’t just rejecting the defense as an argument for innocence. They were saying that it was, itself, a crime.

Undaunted, Mitchell and company continued making courtroom speeches and filing more nonsensical motions. One, for instance, claimed that Judge Davis’ court only had jurisdiction over crimes committed in federally owned “forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and enclaves.”

None of these arguments had a prayer of overturning the charges. But they had an impact nonetheless. They made a long, complex trial longer and more complex still. Seeking the death penalty is rightfully arduous—it requires legal justifications for the penalty itself, enhanced scrutiny over jury selection, an additional penalty phase after a conviction, and so on. Conspiracy charges create further legal burdens. And the way Mitchell et al chose to deal with their attorneys— not dismissing them outright, but asking them to sign a peculiar “contract” that would essentially prohibit them from mounting a defense—created more problems. If the defendants weren’t dealt with carefully, they might be able to appeal by claiming that they had been inadequately represented. The last thing Judge Davis wanted was for an appellate court to throw out a verdict and send the case back to Baltimore to start all over again. According to a source close to the court, dealing with the flesh and blood defense has been “one of the greatest challenges Davis has faced in twenty years as a judge, by far.”

By mid-2007, the federal prosecutors were starting to run low on a vital resource: time. As years go by, memories fade, police officers retire or transfer, informants change their mind, and juries wonder, why, if the case is so straightforward, it took so long to make. On September 6, 2007, prosecutors withdrew the death penalty for all four defendants.

Nobody in the Baltimore federal courthouse is willing to state, or even speculate on the record, that Mitchell and his cohorts may have averted death with the flesh-and-blood defense. There are other possibilities involving evidence, witnesses, and Justice Department policy. But the elaborate processes of federal capital cases weren’t built to accommodate farcical pro se filings and challenges. Traffic offenses, tax cases—even farm foreclosures—are one thing. When the end goal is execution, even the most ludicrous defenses are taken seriously.

On January 8, 2008, the case of United States of America v. Willie Mitchell et al convened once again in the main courtroom of the federal courthouse. The lawyers arrived first, chatting in the manner of people who had spent nearly four years and counting on the odyssey of this case. The defendants came next. While Shawn Gardner wore the blue work shirt of a lifer in state prison, Willie Mitchell sported comfortable baggy jeans and a stylish black shirt. Mitchell sauntered to his table, and spied the lone spectator in the courtroom’s auditorium-style gallery of one hundred- plus seats, a slender black woman who looked to be in her late twenties. His eyes lit up as he smiled and mouthed “How are you?” “I’m good, I’m good” she murmured. “Your new lawyer—get his card!”

Judge Davis arrived last, emerging from a wooden door behind the bench, beneath oil portraits of judges from days gone by. The hearing will be short, he said; the purpose is to establish a schedule for future motions, and ultimately the trial. Davis and the lawyers spent the next twenty minutes trying find eight weeks of available courtroom time for ten busy lawyers plus the judge. Then, apropos of nothing, Shelton Harris stood up. “Good morning your honor,” he began. Davis saw where this was going and cut him off. “I haven’t recognized you yet, Mr. Harris. You’ll have time to talk later,” he said. “I accept your offer,” Harris replied softly, and sat down.

The scheduling discussion continued; Mitchell rested his head in his arms as though bored. Finally, Judge Davis allowed Harris to speak. Harris launched into the now familiar oration—”I request you, the judge, close the accounts…” He spoke rapidly in a low, gravelly voice, as if he’d worked hard to memorize the speech and didn’t want to leave anything out.

Harris finished, sat, and Judge Davis turned to the defendants. The speech you just gave has no legal meaning whatsoever, he said sternly. They were words in the English language, but they have no meaning as a matter of law. If, in future proceedings, you persist—even politely—in making these speeches, you face a severe risk of being expelled from the courtroom. The court also may conclude that you are waiving your right to appointed counsel, in which case you would have to represent yourself. That would be a sad day. “We are in recess,” Davis said. He turned back toward the door to leave.

Then several things happened at once. Shawn Gardner, handcuffed, slumped in the arms of the federal marshals, who seized him beneath his armpits and dragged him across the courtroom toward the door. Willie Mitchell raised his right hand to speak, intent on giving his version of Harris’ speech, but the marshals grabbed his arm and forced it down behind his back toward his left wrist, which was already cuffed. Mitchell struggled and yelled at his lawyer, “They got my arm in a chicken wing!” The marshals forcibly moved Martin and Harris toward the door. Judge Davis watched with consternation as they were dragged from his court.

Willie Mitchell and company won’t go on trial until September, if then, and they won’t face the death penalty, even though they probably deserve it if anyone does. But they will probably be convicted and spend the rest of their lives in federal prison, never to be heard from again, because in the end, the flesh-and-blood defense is no defense at all. The 14th Amendment didn’t revoke Shawn Gardner’s natural citizenship— it gave him protection under the law, and paved the way for another black man to judge his case. There’s no international cabal of Jewish bankers conspiring against him— one of his lawyers, a professor at Howard University Law School, is Jewish. The secret histories and grand conspiracies that have fueled decades of right-wing paranoia, morphing to accommodate one doomed cause after another until finding an unlikely temporary home in a Baltimore lockup, are lies and nothing more.

As the marshals shoved the four men toward the courtroom door, back to the prison they’ll never leave, they shook their heads and looked at each other smiling, as if to say right, right, isn’t it always just like this? One of them let out a chuckle that rose above the din. Judge Davis turned to the court reporter. “Let the record show,” he said, “that Mr. Harris is laughing.”