An Alaska man who is challenging President Barack Obama’s eligibility for office on the grounds that the president is a “mulatto” based his complaint on an argument common to the neo-Confederate and antigovernment “sovereign citizen” movements, Hatewatch has learned.
In a complaint filed Tuesday with the Alaska Division of Elections, Gordon Warren Epperly of Juneau argued that Obama isn’t eligible for office because, as a person of mixed-race descent, he is not a “natural-born citizen” of the United States.
“As Barack Hussein Obama II is of the ‘Mulatto’ race, his status of citizenship is founded upon the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before the (purported) ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment, the race of ‘Negro’ or ‘Mulatto’ had no standing to be citizens of the United States under the United States Constitution,” the complaint says. “As the Fourteenth Amendment is only a grant of ‘Civil Rights’ and not a grant of ‘Political Rights,’ Barack Hussein Obama II does not have any ‘Political Rights’ under any provision of the United States Constitution to hold any Public Office of the United States government.”
Though this appears to be the first time it has been used in an effort to challenge Obama’s citizenship status, Epperly’s argument is not unique. Indeed, it seems to be an amalgam of two bizarre extremist legal theories — one that says that blacks do not have the same legal rights as whites because their citizenship is founded on the 14th Amendment, and another that claims that in order to be a “natural-born” U.S. citizen, one’s parents must both be U.S. citizens as well.
The latter theory most recently made its appearance in a Georgia court, where attorneys Mark Hatfield and Van Irion argued unsuccessfully that since the president’s father was never a U.S. citizen, Obama not a natural-born citizen and is constitutionally ineligible for political office. Van Irion is affiliated with the Southern Legal Resource Center, a neo-Confederate outfit co-founded by white supremacist attorney Kirk Lyons, who was married at the Aryan Nations compound in a ceremony officiated by the late Aryan Nations leader and Christian Identity preacher Richard Butler.
The 14th Amendment component of Epperly’s challenge stems from an idea promulgated by the Posse Comitatus, a racist and anti-Semitic group that roiled the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s and believed that the county sheriff is the highest legitimate law enforcement authority. Posse ideologues argued, in effect, that God gave America to the white man and therefore the government cannot abridge most rights of whites unless they submit to a “contract” with that government. Black people were only made citizens by the 14th Amendment, they argued, meaning that they have permanently contracted with the government and therefore must obey all its dictates. Or, put another way, black people were truly second-class citizens, forced to obey government and tax laws that, the Posse argued, don’t apply to white sovereign citizens (the Posse often called them “organic citizens”).
Epperly appears to have been comingling sovereign and neo-Confederate ideology some time. In 2006, he sued Congress for unconstitutionally enacting the Reconstruction Acts of 1867, which, he alleged, placed him “in a state of involuntary servitude” and made him “liable for the debt of the United States.”
The Reconstruction Acts, enacted in the wake of the Civil War, placed the former Confederate States under military rule, and required them to draft new constitutions and ratify the 14th Amendment. Some neo-Confederate sympathizers argue that the 14th Amendment was not properly ratified because its ratification involved strong-arm tactics. Sovereign ideology – a form of which has recently been embraced by the neo-Confederate League of the South – says whites can reject the 14th Amendment and proclaim themselves independent, free from what they perceive as an overweening and downright criminal federal government.
The modern-day sovereign citizen movement, whose adherents believe they are exempt from most laws and are often confrontational with police officers, is a direct descendant of Posse Comitatus. Most modern sovereigns, however, seem unaware of the movement’s racist origins – and in recent years a permutation of sovereign ideology has gained traction among blacks.
Amazingly enough, this is not the first time Epperly has challenged the eligibility of an elected official he does not like. In a 2010 letter to the Alaska director of elections, he declared that Lisa Murkowski, who had just been elected senator, was not qualified for office “as she is not a citizen of the United States under Article I of the Constitution for the United States.”
His argument stemmed from a 22-page “Proclamation,” apparently researched solely by Epperly, which supposedly proves that female and non-white elected officials are “usurpers of office” who “have no political privileges to hold public offices of the United States under the qualification clauses of Article I, Article, II, and Article III of the United States Constitution.”
In the same proclamation, Epperly concluded also that Obama is a “usurper,” and that the president, Murkowski and all other non-whites and women who hold government office were “inserted” into their positions by seditious “domestic enemies” intent on infiltrating and destroying the United States under cover of “political correctness.”
Epperly ends with a barely veiled threat. Demanding that Congress and the Supreme Court “come forward and give answers to the allegations of sedition as stated herein,” he wrote: “If those who are participating in the sedition of the Constitution of the United States of America do not remove themselves from public office, the people will have no choice but to remove those individuals from office by what ever means it may take.”