Emory International Law Review


Mellie Ligon


The Moorish Sovereign Citizens Movement began as an offshoot of the overarching Sovereign Citizens Movement in the United States in the 1990s by former followers of the Washitaw Nation and Moorish Science Temple of America. The Moorish Sovereign Citizens Movement follows an anti-government ideology, based in the idea the current American government is illegitimate and has been operating under false pretenses since as early as the 19th century. Though disagreement among the members of the movement regarding what spurred this covert change from a legitimate to an illegitimate government exists, examples of the different catalysts include the U.S. abandonment of the gold standard in the 1930s and the Reconstruction Era of the 1860s and 1870s following the U.S. Civil War. Members of the movement live scattered across the United States and do not follow a single ideology or teaching, but they all engage in similar tactics of disruption—levying false liens against government officials they deem have wronged them, filing countless motions to flood the system, and employing a nonsensical legal language of their own in court appearances and filings. This comment engages in an overview of this movement in the United States and subsequently compares it to parallel movements in Canada and Ireland, specifically by looking to their cases involving individuals with similar ideologies and tactics. Finally, it discusses takeaways from non-U.S. movements for potential application in the U.S. setting.