Stewart Rhodes, born Elmer Stewart Rhodes III in 1966, is the founder of the [[Oath Keepers]], a far-right [[anti-government]] militia in the United States. He was born in Fresno, California, the son of a U.S. Marine and a farm worker. He has described himself as "mixed-race," with American-Indian and Hispanic maternal ancestors. His father abandoned him and his mother when he was three years old, and he was raised by his mother and her Mexican-American family ((https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stewart_Rhodes)).
Rhodes attended high school in Las Vegas before joining the U.S. Army. He was honorably discharged after seven months due to a spinal injury. He later studied political science at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, graduating in 1998. He worked as a staffer for Republican [[Congress]]man Ron Paul after graduation, and became an adherent of the right-wing [[Tea Party]] movement. At the age of 35, Rhodes enrolled in Yale Law School, where he was known for his defense of gun rights. He graduated from Yale in 2004.
After graduating from Yale, Rhodes clerked for an associate justice at the Arizona Supreme Court, and he worked as a lawyer in various western U.S. states. He was disbarred by the Montana Supreme Court in 2015 for violating the Montana Rules of Professional Conduct.
## Oath Keepers' founding
Rhodes founded the Oath Keepers in March 2009, two months into the presidency of [[Barack Obama]]. The organization was launched in Lexington, Massachusetts, at the location of the first American Revolutionary War battle. Under his leadership, the Oath Keepers formed "Citizen Preservation" teams, which included militias, to operate in communities across the U.S. The teams were intended to defend citizens against what Rhodes believed was a government plot to let the country descend into chaos, declare martial law, and scrap the Constitution.
Rhodes has collaborated with [[anti-government]] groups such as the Tenth Amendment Center and the Northwest Patriots, and the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies him as an "extremist". In the aftermath of the 2020 U.S. presidential election, Rhodes encouraged his supporters to reject Joe Biden as the incoming president. He spoke of the need to take up arms to prevent Biden's inauguration and launched a campaign to persuade then-president [[Donald Trump]] to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807, deploy the military, and use the Oath Keepers as a militia.
In November 2022, he was [convicted of seditious conspiracy](https://doctorparadox.net/seditious-conspiracy/) and evidence tampering with regard to the [January 6 U.S. Capitol attack](https://doctorparadox.net/january-6-attack/) and was subsequently sentenced to 18 years in prison in May 2023. The judge at his sentencing stated that Rhodes posed an ongoing threat to U.S. democracy. The conviction of Rhodes was significant as the [[seditious conspiracy]] charge has rarely been brought in the century and a half that the statute and its forerunners have been on the books.