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Could the Tea Party be Found Guilty of Treason?

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By Ben Cohen: According to the Mississippi Tea Party, the implementation of Obamacare is tantamount to treason, and the chairman is advocating an armed uprising to get rid of the 'criminal invaders' residing in the White House. On their official website chairman Roy Nicholson made the following statement:

When a gang of criminals subvert legitimate government offices and seize all power to themselves without the real consent of the governed their every act and edict is of itself illegal and is outside the bounds of the Rule of Law. In such cases submission is treason. Treason against the Constitution and the valid legitimate government of the nation to which we have pledged our allegiance for years. To resist by all means that are right in the eyes of God is not rebellion or insurrection, it is patriotic resistance to invasion.

May all of us fall on our faces before the Heavenly Judge, repent of our sins, and humbly cry out to Him for mercy on our country. And, may godly courageous leaders rise up in His wisdom and power to lead us in displacing the criminal invaders from their seats and restore our constitutional republic.

This is of course the rantings of a deeply unhappy, middle aged white guy who has clearly spent far too much time reading civil war novels and hating black people. While no one should pay any attention to this nonsense, it is worth bearing in mind that the Mississippi chapter of the Tea Party could technically be guilty of treason itself. As Think Progress notes:

Despite Nicholson’s repeated charge that the Obama administration is guilty of high crimes, the only treason in play here is the suggestion of an open revolt against the federal government.

Article three of the US constitution defines treason in the following language:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

And Nicholson's language is clear - the words 'rise up' and 'displacing criminal invaders' is a call to arms and a declaration of war against the democratically elected government of the United States of America. And given the major elements of 'Obamacare', including the mandate, were deemed constitutional by the Supreme Court, Nicholsons charges are not only false but treasonous and punishable by the ultimate penalty. In 1790, the Congress of the United States enacted that:

If any person or persons, owing allegiance to the United States of America, shall levy war against them, or shall adhere to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort within the United States, or elsewhere, and shall be thereof convicted on confession in open Court, or on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act of the treason whereof he or they shall stand indicted, such person or persons shall be adjudged guilty of treason against the United States, and SHALL SUFFER DEATH

It may come as a surprise to the militant Right that they could be found guilty of treason, particularly because they believe in an inherent monopoly on patriotism, but they are subject to the law as any other group of militants regardless of where they are on the political spectrum.

Thankfully the Obama administration is composed of grown ups who won't take the time to react to Nicholson and his Tea Party chapter. They'll most likely be ignored unless they do anything silly (like coming armed to a rally near the White House), and left to their own devices in Mississippi where they are about as nationally relevant as French existentialism is in neighboring Alabama.

Should they choose to make good on their promise to remove the foreign invader in the White House, it would be worth bearing in mind what the last civil war entailed. As Bob Cesca wrote earlier this week:

The last time civil war occurred on American soil, more than 620,000 Americans were killed and the rebellious South was destroyed and humiliated. The former Confederacy lost 18 percent of its white male population aged 13-43. Three percent of the total American population was killed or wounded. Individual income in the South dropped by 40 percent. And they lost. All of those lives were sacrificed for nothing. These are just a few of a thousand reasons why the notion of an armed rebellion over something like the Affordable Care Act shouldn’t be casually tossed around.

A serious Tea Party rebellion is about as likely as Newt Gingrich coming back into the Presidential race, but their threats should not be dismissed completely. With the economy still stuttering, this type of militant language is becoming commonplace, and the more it is accepted as normal, the greater the actual risk becomes.

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