Sedition laws apply to Berkeley rioters

The great Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, argues cogently that longstanding sedition laws can be invoked to prosecute the Berkeley rioters and others.  I urge everyone to read his entire argument at National Review Online, including his explanation of why sedition, not treason, is the appropriate category of law under which to bring charges.

During the Civil War, Congress enacted the first seditious-conspiracy law. Aimed at rioting and other aggression by Confederate sympathizers, it criminalizes plots to levy war against the United States, or to oppose by force the government and its execution of the laws. It has been on the books ever since, though rarely invoked. (It was used against the FALN in the late Seventies, and I used it in 1993 to prosecute terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and conspired to bomb other New York City landmarks.) It is similarly a felony to advocate the destruction of the federal or state governments and their subdivisions.

More pointedly, there is a sweeping federal anti-riot law, making it a crime to incite, organize, promote, participate in, or aid and abet a riot. In addition, the federal civil-rights laws make it a crime to conspire to "injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate" people "in the free exercise or enjoyment" of their constitutional rights – including, obviously, the right to free speech. These laws further criminalize forcible acts and threats that interfere with people's lawful enjoyment of any federally subsidized activity (note that the government provides lavish funding to universities). They outlaw interference with the conduct of commercial business during a riot or other civil disorder.

As I pointed out yesterday, the mayor of Berkeley himself had defamed Milo Yiannopoulos and may have egged on the rioters, so local law enforcement may not be in a position to act on the rioters, only one of whom was arrested.

We have not seen the end of anti-Trump/anti-conservative violence.  The public, I am certain, is repulsed by the behavior of these leftists.  Serious prosecutions ought to follow, for they are seeking to overthrow the legitimate conduct of politics, replacing it with mob rule.

The great Andrew McCarthy, a former federal prosecutor, argues cogently that longstanding sedition laws can be invoked to prosecute the Berkeley rioters and others.  I urge everyone to read his entire argument at National Review Online, including his explanation of why sedition, not treason, is the appropriate category of law under which to bring charges.

During the Civil War, Congress enacted the first seditious-conspiracy law. Aimed at rioting and other aggression by Confederate sympathizers, it criminalizes plots to levy war against the United States, or to oppose by force the government and its execution of the laws. It has been on the books ever since, though rarely invoked. (It was used against the FALN in the late Seventies, and I used it in 1993 to prosecute terrorists who bombed the World Trade Center and conspired to bomb other New York City landmarks.) It is similarly a felony to advocate the destruction of the federal or state governments and their subdivisions.

More pointedly, there is a sweeping federal anti-riot law, making it a crime to incite, organize, promote, participate in, or aid and abet a riot. In addition, the federal civil-rights laws make it a crime to conspire to "injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate" people "in the free exercise or enjoyment" of their constitutional rights – including, obviously, the right to free speech. These laws further criminalize forcible acts and threats that interfere with people's lawful enjoyment of any federally subsidized activity (note that the government provides lavish funding to universities). They outlaw interference with the conduct of commercial business during a riot or other civil disorder.

As I pointed out yesterday, the mayor of Berkeley himself had defamed Milo Yiannopoulos and may have egged on the rioters, so local law enforcement may not be in a position to act on the rioters, only one of whom was arrested.

We have not seen the end of anti-Trump/anti-conservative violence.  The public, I am certain, is repulsed by the behavior of these leftists.  Serious prosecutions ought to follow, for they are seeking to overthrow the legitimate conduct of politics, replacing it with mob rule.

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