The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement

Committee of the States

The Committee of the States was a right-wing extremist tax protest group that was formed on July 4, 1984 in Mariposa, California. William Potter Gale, a longtime anti-Jewish activist associated with the Posse Comitatus and the "Identity" movement, and "Pastor" of his own Identity church, was instrumental in its founding. Aryan Nations founder Richard G. Butler also signed the document that formed the group.

The Committee of the States took its name from the Articles of Confederation, predecessor to the United States Constitution, which called for a committee of the states to run the nation. The group initially came to public attention by way of a 1985 article in the Los Angeles Daily Journal, which stated that the Committee had a stronghold of some 25 supporters in the area of Sacramento, California, and participants in Nevada, Idaho, Iowa and Wisconsin. The article outlined some of the group's beliefs:

* They subscribed to the theory of the extremist group Posse Comitatus that the highest legal authority should lie with the counties and county sheriffs, and in citizen grand juries. They opposed government regulation of any kind, especially Federal income tax.

* They contended that the courts are functioning under martial law, an "admiralty jurisdiction" which was opposed by the nation's founding fathers. They claim such laws favor merchants and the banks, and that the Federal government and international bankers are enslaving Americans with the aim of a Communist takeover.

* They held that God's law as proclaimed in the Bible takes precidence over man-made law. Some Committee of the States members turned in their driver's licenses and removed the license plates from their cars to demonstrate their opposition to such government regulations.

The Committee's founding documents were officially filed with the recorder of Mariposa County, California, on July 15, 1984. They included an "indictment" against the U.S. Congress, "collectively and in persona (as individuals)," for the alleged crimes of "malfeasance and misfeasance in office." It declared: "We, the People, the 'body politic' bringing this indictment, are the Lords and Masters of this self-governing Republic known as the United States of America."

An accompanying document was addressed to "each and every Member" of the House of Representatives and the Senate of the United States. It declared: "You are hereby served the attached Indictment containing specific Charges and Specifications brought against you by this Committee of the States, sitting as a Grand Jury of the people (body politic) of the States of the Union." It added: "You are hereby notified that this Committee of the States shall meet in Congress on the first Monday in November in the Year One Thousand Nine Hundred and Eighty Four (1984), for the conduct of a trial to determine your guilt or innocence unless your resignation from office is accomplished prior to that date."

In March 1986, a Committee of the States letter was sent to sheriffs in Georgia. The "Dear Sheriff" letter stated: "If country sheriffs realized two facts of the law, they would put an absolute stop to foreclosure on private property throughout the United States of America." It alleged that "a debt based on credit is a fiction of law, dischargeable under the law through bankruptcy," with personal property "to be retained." it also declared: "The sheriff is duty-bound to preserve and protect private rights of county residents against tyranny of public wrongs by public administrators."

In 1988, Gale and four other members of the Committee were sentenced to one year and one day in jail for threatening the lives of IRS agents and a Nevada state judge. Gale died in jail at age 71. His death marked the end of the Committee of the States. (Anti-Defamation League, 11-12)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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