Juanita Martin, R.I.P.
by Jim Davies, 10/18/2011
Twenty or thirty years before her time, this feisty fighter for freedom died last Friday.
Like each of us but much more so, Juanita was unique. She fastened on to key ideas and principles, and stuck to them like glue; much less than most of us, she didn't weigh the pros and cons of actions but if she saw them as right, went ahead and took them regardless. She was a member of a remarkable group of curmudgeonly neighbors near Enfield, CT where I knew them in and around 1990, called "Constitutional Revival" - led by the late Andrew Melechinsky, whom she greatly admired.
At that time a friend and I were producing a weekly TV show for CT Public Access, and twice featured Juanita as guest. The photo is taken from one of those interviews, in a program made shortly after Juanita had survived an extraordinary episode in the story of Andrew and Constitutional Revival. A little background is needed.
Andrew knew his Constitution inside and out, and over many years managed to teach it to classes in every law school in the country - by invitation of the students, not the faculties. He was not an explicit anarchist - no CR member was - because he took the view that like it or not we do live in a Constitutional Republic and the most useful thing he could do was to make government obey those terms of reference. That's what they intended to do, but they failed completely; rather, they succeeded in spectacularly demonstrating the opposite - and that's even more valuable. Each time CR defied government orders which violated that Supreme Law, they made sure the story got publicity, so exposing as pure sand the foundations upon which our supposedly limited government rests its enormous weight. This greatly helps demolish the absurd degree of public confidence in government and so to pave the way for the anarchist alternative to be considered. How ridiculous, to suppose the governors can be governed!
Perhaps Andy's biggest challenge to it was to defy the IRS. He neither paid the alleged income tax nor filed its "confessional" Form 1040, since it very obviously violates the vaunted Fifth Amendment "guarantee" against self-incrimination. They gave him a hard time, but rather than incarcerate him they stole his home - in what was probably the last residence seizure in the country. Soon afterwards, Juanita took the extraordinary step of re-occupying that house, after government had blighted the neighborhood by boarding it up.
She made herself quarters in its basement, hooked up a phone and called up the Hartford Courant to tell them she was there. When the police thugs came round to evict her, she could see their jackboots through a high window at ground level, so knew they were armed to the teeth. She was ready for them with a shotgun.
Happily a settlement was negotiated, presumably because government knew it was on very shaky ground and didn't want the publicity of killing a lady as well as expelling a couple from their home, while enforcing an illegal bunch of tax "laws." Soon afterwards, she was charged with trespass (impossible, since she had Andy's permission) and sentenced (in a very bizarre outcome) to perform "community service" in the form of lecturing about the Constitution in all local (government) schools. I think it likely that the judge sensed she was basically right, and in this roundabout way set out to help her.
Shortly afterwards I interviewed her again on "The Freedom Alternative" and made the story available to two million Connecticut viewers. Later yet, Juanita moved to Las Vegas for a while to work in the office of Irwin Schiff, and we mostly lost touch; until last weekend. Juanita's objectives were more limited than they might have been, but she pursued and fulfilled them better than almost anyone I know. She holds a well-deserved place in the pantheon of American heroes for liberty.