Meeks was jailed for a couple of months at the end of 1980 and then released on appeal. The government then appealed but that court did not hear the case, saying they already ruled in a similar suit (U.S. v. Rylander). This ruling backed up the government so Meeks’ was jailed again in 1984 under the original contempt order.
(I found a couple of links related to this case from the United States Court of Appeals, 5th Circuit. Here’s a link from an appeal in April 1981. And I found this link that appears to be the judgment based on Rylander.
After 6 months of imprisonment, his attorney requested a jury trial, but this never happened. At the time this issue was published, Carl thought he was still in jail but in Issue 13, we learn that he was released in early December.
The story about his release is in Issue 13, which explains that it may have had something to do with media attention because he was released soon after being contacted by the television news show "60 minutes."
In the original article Carl explains that he spoke with Meeks a couple of times and also sent him Voluntaryist information. According to Carl, Meeks claimed he was coming closer and closer to a Voluntaryist outlook, particularly in regard to using constitutional arguments as a defense against the state:
"Although George started out defending his position by reference to the U.S. Constitution and limited government, he admitted to me on the phone that he was coming closer and closer to a voluntaryist outlook. The government refers to the 5th Amendment as a privilege and not a right and it treats it as such. A privilege can be revoked at the command of the government, whereas an inherent right cannot be. I think George realizes that people should look more towards their natural rights as individuals and rely on their distrust of governmental power rather than anticipating that laws and constitutions will secure their liberty. It is certain (and history has proven it time and again) that if we allow government to "guarantee" our rights for us, we will most likely end up losing them. Any government that is strong enough to "guarantee" rights is automatically suspect and probably already strong enough to violate them. As Voluntaryists realize, the State is no less an invasive institution whether it is bound by a Constitution or not. Constitutions are window-dressing, nothing more."
As I usually do when I read about someone in this publication, I was interested in what happened to George Meeks after this experience. Did Meeks continue to study the principles of Voluntaryism? Did he move toward non-political action? Here are some links I found that may answer that question though I understand they do not necessarily tell us everything there is to know:
- Here is a link, dated 1988, which is an appeal that lists Meeks as a party in a lawsuit against the state of Texas relating to ballot access.
- Meeks ran for State Senate in Texas in 2000. .
- Here’s a site that has LP photos from the 1980s and George is included. And it looks like he spoke about the Constitution in 2000 as well.
Wow, I have to say that last link was interesting. I’ve never been to a Libertarian Party event where the pledge of allegiance was recited. It makes me wonder if any of these people have since moved to the Tea Party so they could “get something accomplished.”
I don’t mean to be annoying to those involved in politics, I’m just trying to understand how people move towards a non-political viewpoint and also what are effective means to help educate others.
Some believe that civil disobedience and openly fighting the state is an effective way to expose the truth because people can observe the state in action. This is supposed to help them better understand the force involved which makes sense to some extent.
But what lesson can be learned from Meeks’ story? I can’t help but wonder how much the observation of civil disobedience can help to educate others when it appears that an actual experience itself didn’t seem to do it for Meeks when he was the guy who was jailed for not complying.
There must be more to it.