At the website of the anti-American, radical Left outfit, MoveOn.org, 29,000 progressive big thinkers have signed a petition calling on their friends at the Obama Justice Department to prosecute House Republican leaders. The petitioners claim the GOP’s recent strategy, leading to a government shut down and “threaten[ing] the U.S. economy with default,” constitutes “an attempt to extort the United States government into altering or abolishing the Affordable Care Act.” That, they proclaim, “is self-evidently a seditious conspiracy” – the crime they would have Eric Holder charge.
I didn’t stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night, but I did prosecute the best-known seditious conspiracy case in modern American history. So I suppose I should break it to these newfangled patriots that seditious conspiracy is, in essence, about the use or planned use of force against the nation. In fact, Congress first codified the crime during the Civil War to address terrorist acts committed by confederate sympathizers. The Supreme Court explained in the 19th century that the law prohibits forcible aggression, and appellate courts have referred to it as the crime of “waging a war of urban terrorism” against our country.
The statute (Section 2384 of the federal penal code), which is very straightforward and easily accessible online, targets those who conspire
to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or levy war against them, 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[.]…
Although the statute’s title is “seditious conspiracy,” you’ll notice that the word “sedition” does not appear in the text that defines the offense. That owes to the unsavory legacy of the Alien and Sedition Acts – a fact the Left is quick to remind us about when the statute is used against its obviously intended targets, terrorists. When we indicted the Blind Sheikh, for example, progressives openly fretted that prosecuting a global terrorist leader who’d called for mass-murder attacks against Americans could be the first chilling step down a slippery slope toward the suppression of legitimate political debate (you know, what they do in Congress).
To help out the MoveOn folks: terrorists are people like President Obama’s friends Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, or like the al Qaeda jihadists championed by MoveOn throughout the Bush years. Criminal statutes targeting terrorists are usually not thought applicable to elected congressional officials with constitutional speech-and-debate immunity who peacefully represent their constituents in formulating and debating legislation. But hey, I guess it’s always possible that our imperial president could “waive” the use-of-force parts of the law and that Holder’s heroes – assuming they’re done shipping guns to Mexican drug cartels – can get after those seditious Republicans.