Subject: Paranoia as Patriotism: Committee of the States
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
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
* 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
* 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. Congree,
"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)
Anti-Defamation League. [Special Report] Paranoia as Patriotism:
Far-Right Influences on the Militia Movement. 1995.