I was watching a video on RT about sovereign citizens, and the “expert” sovereign citizen, Alfred Adask, was explaining why people are sovereign.  He cited a U.S. Supreme Court case, Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. (2 Dall.) 419 (1793), in support of his position.  Adask noted that the case talked about the sovereignty of the people in regards to their ability to sue the government, specifically a state government of another state, as was provided for in the U.S. Constitution.  It was about the principle of sovereign immunity.  The Constitution said:

The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State;–between Citizens of different States;–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1 (emphasis added).

The Court found that it had jurisdiction to hear the case, and since the State of Georgia refused to appear, Chisholm was granted a default judgment.

Adask took one small section of the ruling and applied it out of context, and completely ignores that Chisholm is no longer good law.  You see, right after the decision, both Congress and the several States were shocked.  They never thought that a suit by a citizen against the government of a state would be allowed, under the age-old principle of sovereign immunity.  So they changed the law.  The only way to change a section of the Constitution is by amendment, and the Eleventh Amendment was passed by Congress and ratified by the States.  It reads:

The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

 

U.S. Const. amend. XI.
The ruling in Chisholm has been “superseded by statute” or no longer valid.  This has been clearly recognized by the courts.  Comments in those opinions are clear.

  • “The decision “created such a shock of surprise that the Eleventh Amendment was at once proposed and adopted.”  Pennhurst State Sch. & Hosp. v. Halderman, 465 U.S. 89, 97 (1984).
  • “The Amendment’s language overruled the particular result in Chisholm, but this Court has recognized that its greater significance lies in its affirmation that the fundamental principle of sovereign immunity limits the grant of judicial authority in Art. III.   Id. at 98.
  • “[T]he Constitution does not embrace authority to entertain a suit brought by private parties against a state without consent given….”  In re State of New York, 256 U.S. 490, 497 (1921).
  • “This amendment, expressing the will of the ultimate sovereignty of the whole country, superior to all legislatures and all courts, actually reversed the decision of the supreme court.”  Hans v. Louisiana, 134 U.S. 1 (1890).
  • “[T]he amendment being constitutionally adopted, there could not be exercised any jurisdiction [by the Court], in any case, past or future, in which a state was sued by the citizens of another state, or by citizens, or subjects, of any foreign state.”  Hollingsworth v. State of Virginia, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 378, 382 (1798).

Had Adask consulted an attorney, he could have avoided making a fool of himself.  It is not enough to know what the words on the paper say, one has to determine if a subsequent court has modified, overturned, narrowed, or otherwise affected the original ruling.  It is one of the basic principles of common law, which is supposedly the basis and the backbone of the sovereign citizen movement.

Of course Adask, a former roofer, has been meddling in the law for years, primarily publishing the Anti-Shyster magazine (at least until 2002).
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