Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sedition

As the Republican party moves ever closer to out and out rebellion, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at the actual text of the federal laws governing sedition.  So, here are the relevant sections of those laws.

I want to add that I found it interesting, in reading this, to realize that the Bundys and their cohorts have gone far over the line separating protest from sedition.  It will be interesting to see if the government has the sense to hold them responsible for their behavior.

Anyway, here goes. first, a non-legal definition of sedition:

"Sedition usually involves actually conspiring to disrupt the legal operation of the government and beyond expression of an opinion or protesting government policy."

Well, if this were the wording of the law itself, there is no question that the Republicans are committing sedition in many ways.  The actual laws are not quite so clear cut, but still make an interesting read.


18 U.S. Code § 2384 - Seditious conspiracy

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.

This one certainly applies to the Bundys.  I guess whether it applies to current Republican behavior depends what "by force" means.  Is it "force" to threaten to bring the government to a halt and destroy the credit rating of the country to get your way?  If so, this would apply to the Republican party too.


18 U.S. Code § 2389 - Recruiting for service against United States

Whoever recruits soldiers or sailors within the United States, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, to engage in armed hostility against the same; or

Whoever opens within the United States, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction thereof, a recruiting station for the enlistment of such soldiers or sailors to serve in any manner in armed hostility against the United States—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.


In connection with this section, it is interesting to notice the behavior of Darryl Issa, who recently called for the military to refuse to carry out the President's orders:

"Issa said it was up to U.S. military leaders to decide whether to follow Obama's plan, which he said was unlawful. 
"Are they going to obey an unlawful order, an unlawful order to move people from Guantanamo, an unlawful order to close the base?" he said."

Cutting pretty close to breaking this law, as far as I can see.  Well, on we go:

8 U.S. Code § 2385 - Advocating overthrow of Government

Whoever knowingly or willfully advocates, abets, advises, or teaches the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying the government of the United States or the government of any State, Territory, District or Possession thereof, or the government of any political subdivision therein, by force or violence, or by the assassination of any officer of any such government; or

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof—

Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

If two or more persons conspire to commit any offense named in this section, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

As used in this section, the terms “organizes” and “organize”, with respect to any society, group, or assembly of persons, include the recruiting of new members, the forming of new units, and the regrouping or expansion of existing clubs, classes, and other units of such society, group, or assembly of persons.

I want to repeat a section of that:

"Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence...'

Again, there is that nebulous term "force."  If force requires actual armed threats, then, Bundys yes, Republicans, no.  It hardly bears mentioning, however, that the Republicans' ability to "force" the country into a devastating collapse if they don't get their way, represents a far greater threat to all of us than the pathetic Bundys and their patriot friends.

18 U.S. Code § 2383 - Rebellion or insurrection

Whoever incites, sets on foot, assists, or engages in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or gives aid or comfort thereto, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.

Bundys, again, yes.  Republicans?  The many who gave public support to their behavior are guilty as well.  As for refusing to carry out their sworn constitutional duty, I guess that this would depend on how much damage they are really capable of causing.

In summation, have the Congressional Republicans crossed the line into sedition?  Acting on what I am sure is massive legal advice, they have certainly come right up to the line, and in a few instances have gone over it.  But the reality is that it would take a truly egregious act of sedition for the government to hold them responsible for their crimes, so they are clearly going to get away with their betrayal; at least as far as it has gone at this point.

Well, never fear.  If we have learned anything, it is that there is a sizable portion of the Republican leadership and base that intend to keep pushing this boundary, until they have clearly betrayed all of the rest of us.

What then?  Stay tuned.

3 comments:

Magpie said...

I think it was on one of your Wingnut Wrapups that I mentioned seditious conspiracy and noted that although it has been used against Left-leaning agitators and Puerto Rican nationalists it has never successfully – “successfully” meaning a conviction - been used against militia types, white supremacists and other associated Right wing trash, despite attempts.

An actual attempt is not necessary, the conspiracy bit relates to ‘planning’...therefore, an anti-government militia by definition should be a seditious conspiracy. But given the Hutaree could get waved off and their ammo returned I don’t know what hope there is.

But then there is this gem from 2008 (about Laura Berg, a nurse):

http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/27/opinion/27sun3.html?_r=0

Caring about your fellow citizens and speaking freely? sedition.
Armed revolt? why they're just nice Christian guys and gals, following the blessed word of the Lord...

BB-Idaho said...

The one SCOTUS judge who could conveniently twist those laws to his and his friends advantage (strict construction to some: childish meaness to others) is in the
6th layer of Dante's inferno with a couple of fornicating popes.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why no one has brought criminal charges against them?