Hard time: Feds to use Sedition statute to bring down January 6 insurrectionists

The Federal government is coming down hard on the mob of Neo Nazi style insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6. 

Egged on by Trump these thugs probably thought there would be no ramifications.

The only way to bring a halt to the insurrection is to smash it by all means available to the government.

Excerpted from the Wall Street Journal 1.14.2021

Use of the Civil War-era law would signal the government’s intent to treat the siege as an assault on national security

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Over almost 160 years, U.S. sedition laws have been used sparingly, including against a Christian militia group, Puerto Rican militants and Islamic jihadists who conspired to blow up New York landmarks.

Now, federal prosecutors say they plan to bring seditious conspiracy charges in their rapidly developing probe into the pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol last week. The charge is a powerful tool for prosecutors, signaling their intent to treat last week’s siege as a grave assault on national security.

Federal prosecutors have filed charges against at least two dozen members of the mob—including the son of a Brooklyn judge and a military veteran who brought plastic zip-tie restraints with him to the Capitol—on charges ranging from gun crimes to assault and theft. A team of senior national-security and public-corruption prosecutors is handling the most serious offenders, federal officials said.

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“Their only marching orders from me are to build sedition and conspiracy charges related to the most heinous acts that occurred in the Capitol,” Michael Sherwin, the acting U.S. attorney in Washington, said Tuesday.

The sedition law dates to the early days of the Civil War when President Lincoln and Congress sought to deter and punish armed resistance to the Union. Sedition generally means encouraging or supporting rebellion against a government.

The law specifically makes it a crime to conspire to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or prevent the execution” of any U.S. law. Another provision makes it unlawful “to seize, take or possess any property of the United States” by force without authorization.

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In the case of last week’s riot, the seized property could be the Capitol itself, which rioters temporarily occupied after storming past security, according to Steven Morrison, a criminal law professor at the University of North Dakota who has written on sedition.

“It’s absolutely a legitimate charge when it comes to what happened at the Capitol,” said Prof. Morrison. “It was a major assault on democracy itself, so the nature of the charge has to reflect that.”

Prosecutors made little use of it until the 1950s, when they wielded the law against a group of militant Puerto Rican nationalists accused of backing the attempted assassination of President Truman and planning the 1954 mass shooting inside the House chamber that wounded several lawmakers.

Punishable by up to 20 years in prison, the crime of conspiring to commit sedition—under Section 2384 of the federal criminal code—is a less serious offense than treason and generally easier to prove.