Laurence Tribe revives the Alien and Sedition Acts...and then retreats

Progressive Harvard Law professor emeritus Laurence Tribe tweeted an accusation of possible "treason" against Fox News's Tucker Carlson if Carlson provided "aid and comfort" to an enemy (Russia) that wages war against "our ally, Ukraine" (a country with which we are not formally allied).  Here is the actual tweet (which Tribe, after criticism from David French, Bradley Moss, and Adam Steinbaugh, deleted, and then tried to explain in a follow-up tweet saying he should have been more careful since we are not yet at war with Russia):

Led by Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson, the GOP's Trump wing appears to be throwing its weight behind Putin. If Putin opts to wage war on our ally, Ukraine, such "aid and comfort" to an "enemy" would appear to become "treason" as defined by Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

So it's not just Tucker Carlson; it is the whole "Trump wing" of the Republican Party that would be treasonous, according to Tribe's tweet.  And, even in Tribe's follow-up tweet, he implied that if we go to war with Russia, any criticism of that war would qualify as treason.

Eventually, Tribe deleted both tweets, surely a sign of shame.  But the impulse behind them reveals a scary mindset, no doubt shared by others of lesser intellectual pretension.

Welcome to today's progressive version of the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 or the Espionage and Sedition Acts of 1917 and 1918.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were aimed at French aliens in the United States (it was anticipated that we would be at war with France soon) and anyone who spoke out against the Adams administration.  Any "false, scandalous and malicious writing" against the administration, as well as any conspiracy "to oppose any measure or measures of the government," was outlawed.  At least 26 persons — many of whom were editors of newspapers opposed to the Adams administration — were prosecuted under the Sedition Act.  Some went to prison for opposing the administration's policies.

During World War I, the Wilson administration and a Democrat-majority Congress passed the Espionage Act and later the Sedition Act.  The Sedition Act criminalized any "disloyal, profane, scurrilous, or abusive language" about the Wilson administration, including any speech or writing that tended to "incite insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty."  Wilson stated that disloyalty to his government "must be crushed out."  More than 2,000 Americans were arrested and prosecuted under these acts, including socialist presidential candidate Eugene Debs, and many went to prison.

Apparently, Laurence Tribe believes that if you vocally oppose going to war with Russia over Ukraine, you may be guilty of treason, and that may apply to the "Trump wing" of the GOP — which, I daresay, includes tens of millions of Americans.  Tribe's tweet about Trump-supporters and treason seems to confirm Alan Dershowitz's charge that Tribe is "a zealot and a partisan" rather than an independent constitutional scholar.

Professor emeritus Tribe needs to get his facts and his law straight.  Ukraine is not an "ally" of the United States — there is no treaty or executive agreement that binds the United States to defend the independence of Ukraine.  And if Russia goes to war against Ukraine and the Biden administration (without a constitutionally required declaration of war from Congress) wages war against Russia, those in the United States who speak out against such a war are not committing treason.  Opposing the foreign and defense policies of the Biden administration is not treason.  Tribe with his tweets is trying to silence dissent against the government.  That is the road to tyranny.

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