The Myth of the Fringed Flag

A persistent, but meritless myth amongst many Sovereign Citizens is that the ‘fringed’ flag in the court rooms indicates that the court is under Admiralty jurisdiction.

The American Legion explains

Fringing of the flag is neither approved of nor prohibited by the Flag Code. The American Legion considers that fringe is used as an honorable enrichment to the Flag. Additionally the courts have deemed without merit and frivolous, lawsuits that contend that the gold fringe adorning the flag conferred Admiralty/Maritime jurisdiction.

The courts themselves have consistently ruled that such claims are without legal merit.

McCann v. Greenway, 952 F. Supp. 647 – Dist. Court, WD Missouri 1997:

Other Courts have considered Mr. McCann’s argument or arguments similar in nature or effect. Those courts have labeled the position as “frivolous”,[2] “totally frivolous”,[3] “preposterous”,[4] and “a … really unintelligible assertion[]”.[5] This Court agrees. But in the interest of killing this argument for good, and to facilitate appellate review, the Court will examine the law of the flag.

US v. Mackovich, 209 F. 3d 1227 – Court of Appeals, 10th Circuit 2000:

First, Mackovich’s “flag fringe” argument — though indisputably frivolous — was not indecipherable. Litigants 1234*1234 in this circuit and elsewhere assert with some frequency that a flag adorned with yellow fringe is “foreign” and thus robs the trial court of jurisdiction. See Wacker v. Crow, No. 99-3071, 1999 WL 525905, at *1 (10th Cir.1999) (unpublished disposition) (deeming “frivolous” the argument that the presence of a flag with yellow fringe precluded jurisdiction and “effectively commuted the district court into a foreign power”); Hancock v. Utah, No. 98-4139, 1999 WL 288251, at *1, *2, *3 (10th Cir.1999) (unpublished disposition) (rejecting a plaintiff’s argument that state officials “violated his right to due process by placing yellow fringe around the American flag”); Murray v. Wyoming, No. 98-8095, 1999 WL 140517, at *1 (10th Cir. 1999) (unpublished disposition) (dismissing as “meritless” a plaintiff’s argument that the district court and a state penitentiary lacked jurisdiction to adjudicate his claims “on the ground that both institutions display a flag with yellow fringe”).[2]

Footnote [2] reads

[2]See also Joyner v. Borough of Brooklyn, No. 98 CV 2579(RJD), 1999 WL 294780, at *1, *2 (E.D.N.Y. Mar.18, 1999) (holding that “[t]he yellow fringe trim on the American flag has no effect on a court’s jurisdiction or a defendant’s constitutional or statutory rights“); Cass v. Richard Joshua Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1:97CV01236, 1998 WL 834856, at *2 (M.D.N.C. Oct. 1, 1998) (rejecting the “phantasmal” claim that flags adorned with fringe are “instrumentalities of a foreign sovereign” and noting that “[f]ringed flagged jurisprudence flourishes, though frequently found frivolous”); United States v. Warren, No. 91-CR-226, 1998 WL 26406, at *1-*2 (N.D.N.Y. Jan.22, 1998) (restating the plaintiff’s position that a “foreign yellow fringe flag” is illegal and concluding that “one could rightly call” such an argument “gibberish”); Sadlier v. Payne, 974 F.Supp. 1411, 1415-16 (D.Utah 1997) (repudiating a plaintiff’s claim that “yellow fringe on the flag somehow converted the jurisdiction of the state court into a `foreign state/power'”); Schneider v. Schlaefer, 975 F.Supp. 1160, 1161-64 & n. 1 (E.D.Wis. 1997)(noting a plaintiff’s attempt to invoke “Army Regulation 840-10” and stating that “flag fringe” jargon is “regrettably familiar to … federal courts around the country”); McCann v. Greenway, 952 F.Supp. 647, 649-51 (W.D.Mo.1997) (discussing army regulations and holding that “[e]ven if the Army or Navy do display United States flags surrounded by yellow fringe, the presence of yellow fringe does not necessarily turn every such flag into a flag of war”); United States v. Greenstreet, 912 F.Supp. 224, 229 (N.D.Tex. 1996) (recognizing that a number of litigants have “attempted to persuade the judiciary that fringe on an American flag denotes a court of admiralty” and thereby limits federal jurisdiction);United States v. Schiefen, 926 F.Supp. 877, 884 (D.S.D.1995) (concluding that “[f]ederal jurisdiction is determined by statute, not by whether the flag flown is plain or fringed”); Vella v. McCammon, 671 F.Supp. 1128, 1129 (S.D.Tex.1987) (rebuffing as “totally frivolous” the argument that a court lacks jurisdiction because “[a] flag has yellow fringes on it”).

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6 thoughts on “The Myth of the Fringed Flag

  1. Yeah, those ‘overpass’ protests have surely changed the public opinion.

    Most of the time I see an overpass protest, I think ‘those foolish people’. But I support their right to waste their time.

  2. I’ve known some folks who bought into that “fringed flag” business. I was always just glad they kept law books in the outhouse instead of medical books.

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