KrisAnne Hall, a self-described “constitutional attorney” who thinks states have the right to secede, recently addressed a neo-Confederate hate group whose goal is to create what the Civil War did not: a separate Southern nation.
In an email response to Hatewatch this week after her address, Hall said:
While I am not a proponent of secession, a state certainly has that contractual right when it feels that the compact has been irrevocably broken. Our states are not fiefdoms under subjugation to an unquestionable despot. Yet while a state may secede or be expelled, that state would lose all benefits and privileges afforded to it under the federal compact.
Hall did not provide the contents of her remarks to the annual conference of the League of the South’s Florida chapter, but she did share a copy of the PowerPoint presentation she said she used during her Aug. 10 address to LOS in Lake City, Florida. The presentation, titled “Restoring the Constitution,” included information on the theory of nullification and why “federal use of undelegated power is theft.”
In her email to Hatewatch, Hall attempted to distance herself from LOS, saying that her teachings run contrary to the group’s position. But some of Hall’s rhetoric, such as her belief in both nullification and justification of secession, could help LOS reach new audiences.
These fringe, far-right readings of the U.S. Constitution became popular with such “patriots” as Henry Lamont “Mike” Beach and William Potter Gale in the 1970s under the guises of being strict constitutionalists. Both men were ardent white supremacists and were some of the first to package their antigovernment and Christian Identity beliefs in such pseudo-patriotic terms.
Both LOS and Hall take issue with the accepted view of the Supremacy Clause, a clause in Article VI of the Constitution that says the Constitution and federal laws generally take precedence over state laws.
The lawyer’s appearance at the LOS event isn’t the first time she has courted controversy in her speaking engagements. A former Russian linguist in the U.S. Army, Hall spoke at a number of tea party events while she was an assistant prosecutor in Suwannee County, Florida – a move that put her at odds with her boss and ultimately led to her firing in 2010.
Today, Hall is best known for traveling the country teaching an alternative version of the Constitution. According to her, the 10th Amendment makes most federal agencies, except the military, illegal. She also pushes the notion that the 14th, 15th and 19th amendments were “unnecessary and dangerous,” according to a Facebook post in 2016.
Other speakers at this month’s LOS conference included Nazi sympathizer Robert Isaacs (aka “Ike Baker”) and self-proclaimed white nationalist and LOS president Michael Hill. Isaacs, who was present at the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in 2017, is the commander of the Kentucky Southern Defense Force, a paramilitary wing of LOS. Hill, who describes himself as a “Southern nationalist,” is also proudly antisemitic and anti-Muslim. He has said there is a “black problem” in the South.
At its core, LOS believes that the Confederacy was entitled to secede. Michael Tubbs, the Florida chapter leader, is a Christian Identity adherent who once served time in prison for theft of government property and conspiracy to transport explosives and firearms across state lines, apparently with the intent to start a race war. LOS is firmly opposed to the idea of an encroaching federal government and believes all states should adhere to a voluntary and loose alliance.
Given the league’s troubling past, it’s no surprise that in the days leading up to the conference Hall received some pushback from social media users. In one instance, an individual called Jim Robertson left a comment on Hall’s Facebook page saying, “I read the attached article today that you are sharing the podium this Saturday … with white Nationalists and antiSemites Michael Hill and Isaac ‘Ike’ Baker. Please confirm.”
Hall responded hours later: “[As] far as I know no one will be on the stage with me. I am teaching a class on the Constitution all by myself.”
On Aug. 10, the day of the LOS event, Hall released a statement on Facebook defending her decision to attend, saying, “Obviously, what those listening believe does not change my message whatsoever. And I will never shy away from sharing truth to whomever is willing to listen, particularly if they are as messed up as people claim.”
Two days after her appearance, Hall took to YouTube to expand on her public statement but failed to denounce LOS and its beliefs.
“There are media outlets out there, both television, internet and newspapers, that published that I am a white supremacist simply because I agreed to speak to a group that may or may not have white supremacists in them,” Hall said when recounting some of the backlash she had received.
In a November 2016 episode of her podcast, “Liberty First,” Hall reinforced the idea that states have a right to secede, saying:
In order to create the Constitution, they had to have three-quarters of the states voluntarily join the Union. There was a very precarious moment when we didn't have three-quarters of the states and our Framers realized that without this consent there would be no Union. Why? Because the Union was formed by consent; you cannot form a Union by consent and then legally hold it together by force; then it’s not consent, is it? It’s slavery. Each and every state in the Union has a right to secede because they voluntarily joined the Union; they voluntarily became a part of the contract, and when their end of the contract has been broken or they have been abused through this contractual relationship, there is no contract law that requires them to stay in a broken contract.
Hall also said in the podcast that “secession gets a bad rap” and told her audience that the “anti-secession movement is dangerous, and it creates a federal kingdom.”
On the LOS website, the group claims, “For the South, cultural as well as political secession is the only practical, the only realistic, and the only moral choice.”
Rachel Janik contributed to this report.
Photo illustration of Michael Hill and KrisAnne Hall by SPLC