What is the Subversive Activities Registration?
The Subversive activities registration was passed by the South Carolina legislature in 1951. This unique law states that anyone planning to overthrow the government must, well, register with the government.
The quirky law imposes a five-dollar registration fee for individuals planning to overthrow the United States government. This antiquated and unrealistic law therefore requires a group—such as a terrorist group—to register with the South Carolina’s office of the Secretary of State and declare their formal intentions, the mane of the organization that employs them and all members of that organization. If the hypothetical group fails to do this,
they are subject to a $25,000 fine and up to ten years in prison.
Although the Act has officially been on the books since 1951, no one had actually registered with the South Carolina government until February of 2010 when news of the legislation’s existence spread via media platforms. The swarm in media exposure and the general obscurity of the law prompted
State Senator Larry Martin to introduce legislation to repeal the Subversive activities registration.
The efforts by Republican Senator Larry Martin ultimately proved successful as the Subversive activities registration was repealed in June of 2010.
Subversive Activities Registration: What does it Say?
The Subversive activities registration Act orders that every member of a subversive organization and every foreign agent who teaches, advocates, practices or advises the necessity or duty of conducting, seizing or overthrowing the Federal government of the United States is required to register with the Secretary of State.
The Subversive activities registration attached a $5 fee per organization. Under the Subversive activities registration, a “subversive organization” is
defined as every corporation, association, camp, society, political party, group, assembly, organization or body composed of two or more people, whom directly or indirectly advises, advocates, practices or teaches the duty, necessity of controlling, seizing, conducting or overthrowing the government of the United States or the government of South Carolina.
The form to register as a subversive organization or agent requires the body to list the name of the organization as well as the address of its principal agency. The organization is then asked to check a box for “yes” or “no” with regards to the following question: “Do you or your organization advocate, teach, advise, practice or teach the duty or necessity of seizing, overthrowing, controlling the government of the State of South Carolina or the federal government of the United States. If the answer to this question is “yes”, the person filing the form is then asked to outline their fundamental beliefs. When the individual completes the form they are then required to submit the document to the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office with the $5 filing fee.
Following registration these agents became public information. That said, only 14 agents registered with the State and the vast majority were instantly viewed as jokes, including Donald Duck, an Atheist group, the “Democratic Part of the United States” and a liberal law firm. The $5 registration fee was apparently not enough to dissuade people from registering their counterparts