The conspiracy issue: The Constitution is a fake!

It was 2011, Barack Obama was still POTUS and a determined group of Sacramento residents was determined to take back their country.

The Sacramento chapter of the Republic for the united States of America (Yes, the “u’ is lowercase—because, uh, sticking it to the man?) to be specific, fashioned itself as part of a national so-called shadow government determined to “restore” the United States to its lawful roots by reinstating the country’s original Constitution. The original document, they argued without—what’s the word—proof, had been abandoned in 1871 in favor of a new decree that stripped states’ rights and turned the United States into a business entity that would turn every U.S. citizen into an individual corporation off of which it could make a tidy profit.

Corporations are people? Something like that.

The Republic’s mission included occupying current state and federal governments, helping people shrug off credit-card debt, mortgages and various tax obligations by nitpicking through contractual language for loopholes and inconsistencies. Some sovereign citizens have gone as far to refuse to pay for the basics. In 2015, for example, a Sacramento couple found itself surrounded by a SWAT team after telling a Department of Utilities customer service representative they’d answer with a shotgun if someone tried to shut off their water.

(Of note: While so-called “sovereign citizens” are vehemently anti-government, militia ties are not always clear, including RuSA’s).

Now, it’s 2018 and the Sacramento chapter of the RuSA has seemingly disappeared with little to no web presence. And, although the national group still maintains an online internet profile, its reach seems more limited than it did nearly a decade ago.

In 2012 the group’s president James Timothy Turner (as in U.S.’s “real” president) was indicted on 10 federal felony counts, including defrauding the federal government, trying to pay taxes with “fictitious financial instruments” and failing to file federal tax returns. In 2013 Turner, who occupies a spot on the Southern Law Poverty Center’s hate group watch list, was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to 18 years in federal prison.

Perhaps, too, says John Sims, who teaches constitutional law at McGeorge School of Law, this fade from the spotlight has something to do with the current political environment. With Donald Trump in the highest office, some anti-government types, including members of the Republic, may be less antsy for change.

“My impression would be that certain groups of conspiracy theorists who have been totally opposed to the federal government—especially when the face of that government was a black face that espoused policies they opposed—they may [now] have an antipathy to the current political order,” Sims said.

Whatever the reason for their relative quiet, he adds, the belief that we’ve been living a constitutional lie for 147 years is pure fiction.

“I can’t frame [their] arguments in any way that has any degree of constitutional plausibility or political plausibility. I just can’t,” Sims said with a laugh. “These people imagine that … they have this key and once it’s revealed the whole world will change. But that’s not how things work.”

Conspiracy rating: That was not Obama’s birth certificate!