‘60 Minutes’ Looks at ‘Sovereign Citizens’ Movement

Last night, CBS’ “60 Minutes” ran a segment on antigovernment “sovereign citizens” that largely reprised the Southern Poverty Law Center’s findings, describing a movement whose adherents believe that they are immune from taxes, most laws, and requirements for driver’s licenses, registration and insurance. The piece contained many of the same elements as the SPLC officer-safety video, “Understanding the Threat: ‘Sovereign Citizens’ and Law Enforcement.”

Like the SPLC video, which has been distributed to some 75,000 law enforcement officials, the “60 Minutes” piece focused heavily on West Memphis, Ark., Police Chief Bob Paudert, whose son Brandon was one of two officers murdered by a father-son team of sovereign citizens on May 20, 2010. It also includes an interview with J.J. McNab, who wrote a cover story on sovereign citizens for the Fall 2010 issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report. "60 Minutes" also referred to the SPLC’s estimate of some 300,000 sovereign citizens, but did not cite SPLC by name.

Here, for those interested in further information, are links to some recent SPLC work on the sovereign citizens movement, including last year’s cover story; a look at the movement’s leaders; a lexicon of sovereign terminology; tips for law enforcement; and an overall essay on the movement. Earlier SPLC stories include a look at a black sovereign citizens group; the return of the sovereign citizen movement in 2009; an interview with a former sovereign; a 2009 sovereign incident list; and a 2002 piece on the "redemption" scam practiced by many sovereigns.