The sovereign citizen movement is a loose grouping of American and Canadian litigants, commentators, tax protesters and financial-scheme promoters. Self-described sovereign citizens take the position that they are answerable only to their particular interpretation of the common law and are not subject to any statutes or proceedings at the federal, state or municipal levels or that they do not recognize U.S. currency and that they are “free of any legal constraints. They especially reject most forms of taxation as illegitimate. Participants in the movement argue this concept in opposition to “federal citizens” who, they say, have unknowingly forfeited their rights by accepting some aspect of federal law.
Many members of the sovereign citizen movement believe that the U.S. government is illegitimate. JJ MacNab, who writes for Forbes about anti-government extremism, describes the sovereign citizen movement as consisting of individuals who believe that the County Sheriff is the most powerful law-enforcement officer in the country, with authority superior to that of any federal agent, elected official or local law-enforcement official.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) classifies some sovereign citizens (“sovereign citizen extremists”) as a domestic terrorist movement. In 2010 the Southern Poverty Law Center(SPLC) estimated that approximately 100,000 Americans were “hard-core sovereign believers” with another 200,000 “just starting out by testing sovereign techniques for resisting everything from speeding tickets to drug charges.”
A 2014 report by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism stated that a survey of law-enforcement officials and agencies across the United States concluded that the movement was the single greatest threat to their communities, ranking above Islamic terrorists and jihadists.