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Republican Sedition?

Updated: Dec 14, 2020


House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

There is no other way to put it. The 18 Republican state attorneys general and the 126 GOP House members who asked the U.S. Supreme Court to invalidate millions of votes in four key states actually were asking the high court to install an unelected dictator in the office of the presidency.


Did they commit the crime of sedition?


(Listen to the podcast)


The suit, filed by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Trump loyalist, asked the court to throw out the election results in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Georgia. Trump called the case "the big one" and after the court quickly rejected the plea, tweeted that the ruling was a "disgraceful miscarriage of justice."


Trump and his Republican cronies in the U.S. Senate had managed to pack SCOTUS with a 6-3 conservative majority, a move Trump considered to be his ace-in-the-hole should the election land in front of the justices.


But it did not succeed. The system of checks and balances established by our forefathers worked and the would-be dictator was denied.


However, in his obsessive effort to overturn his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, Trump has managed to raise millions of dollars from his base, convince millions of supporters -- millions of Republicans -- that the election was somehow rigged, and stir them up to the point of threatened violence.


And what have the Republicans in Congress done to stop this nonsense? Not a damn thing.


Among the signers of that amicus brief in support of the Texas lawsuit were House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (CA), Minority Whip Steve Scalise (LA) and Rep. Tom Emmer (MN), the chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee. They are the three top Republican leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Some pundits theorized that they and many of those who signed the brief did so to avoid being targeted by Trump in one of his infamous tweet storms, an action that they feared would hurt their chances for reelection or political advancement. They did this expecting that the case would be dismissed, so there was nothing to lose.


"Why piss off Trump, so I'll just sign the damn thing," many apparently reasoned.


I worked on Capitol Hill as chief of staff for two U.S. Congressmen -- one a Republican during Watergate and Richard Nixon's eventual resignation. I know this way of thinking. It is cynical, self-serving, and demonstrates a complete lack of moral responsibility. I saw it in action then, and it is happening now 46 years later.


That brings us to sedition.

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) said in a court filing that SCOTUS "should not abide this seditious abuse of the judicial process."


That comment has fortified the view of many Americans that those attorneys general and lawmakers who advocated, in an official court filing, that the election should be overthrown and the presidency handed to Donald Trump should be charged with sedition and kicked out of Congress.


U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) cited Section 3 of the 14th amendment – which states that anyone who “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” cannot serve in federal office – claiming the lawsuit seeks to “obliterate public confidence in our democratic system” and that those who signed it committed “unbecoming acts that reflect poorly on our chamber.”


So what exactly is the definition of sedition?


According to FindLaw.com, sedition is covered in Title 18 of the U.S. Code, which includes treason, rebellion, and similar offenses. The statutory definition states that it is a crime for two or more people within the U.S.:

  • To conspire to overthrow or destroy by force the government of the United States or to level war against them;

  • To oppose by force the authority of the United States government; to prevent, hinder, or delay by force the execution of any law of the United States; or

  • To take, seize, or possess by force any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof.

Does the act of 126 U.S. Representatives joining together to ask the Supreme Court to overturn the lawful election of a President and, thus, install the defeated candidate instead meet the statutory definition of sedition? That is for Constitutional lawyers to decide.


But it is clear, even to those without law degrees, that by advocating such action those lawmakers have acted against the will of the people they have sworn to faithfully represent -- not just Republicans, not just those of their supporters who back Trump, but the will of ALL the people.


They have violated their oath of office, and that is a criminal offense. Federal law, specifically 5 U.S.C. 7311, clearly specifies it is a criminal violation for any member of Congress to advocate the overthrow of our constitutional form of government. The definition of the word “advocate” is to: “defend by argument before a tribunal or the public: support or recommend publicly.”


In their pleading to SCOTUS, those Representatives may not have advocated the overthrow of our constitutional form of government, but they did seek to overturn a legally conducted election in violation of the 15th Amendment, which prohibits the federal government and each state from denying a citizen the right to vote.


On that basis, they deserve to answer for that crime. They should be removed from the House of Representatives and charged as appropriate under the law. They are a disgrace and have no business serving in the People's House.


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