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By now, everyone knows that the federal government is shutdown.

What not enough people know, however, is that government was shut down only because House Speaker John Boehner didn’t allow a budgetary extension bill to come to the floor for a vote.

If it had been allowed a vote, the bill would have passed, in fact, keeping government offices (and employees and established services and parks and much, much more) continuously operable.

Twenty-eight Republicans in the House verifiedthat they would have voted for its approval, as well as 200 Democrats. Because that 228 total surpasses majority of the 438 total votes in the U.S. House of Representatives, the budget extension would have passed with no problem.

But it didn’t. Because Boehner didn’t allow it. And the reason he didn’t allow it was because it made no mention of the Affordable Care Act, which was not in any way included in that bill. And the federal government has had to temporarily close dozens of offices and lay off over 800,000 Americans as a result.

This wasn’t a question about that extension bill or its provisions or its fine print, then; the shutdown only occurred because the House never got to vote on it.

So is that legitimate, then? Professional or moral? Is it even legal?

According to 18 U.S.C. § 2384:

If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
Note that highlighted line: “prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States(.)”

The only reason that House Republicans are blocking any vote on budget resolution is to delay execution of the Affordable Care Act, which became law in 2010, and which was upheld by a U.S. Supreme Court decision in 2012.  

And remember that the ACA wasn’t event mentioned in the bill that House Leader John Boehner blocked from coming to the floor for a vote.

And remember that the ACA isn’t in any way relevant to that bill, either; no funding for any segment of it came from the budget resolution, after all, and the next phases of its implementation began the very next day, anyway.  

So does this shutdown of the U.S. government over such a non-relevant issue constitute sedition, then?

While that’s a question that only scholarly attorneys and historians could answer, let me offer a layman’s response with another question: what would the GOP do if the president had shutdown the government by blocking a budget resolution that didn’t include provision for or mention of Obamacare, even though Obamacare wasn’t included in that bill?  

Wouldn’t Boehner be occupying Fox News nonstop with charges and allegations about sedition? Would or would not the House GOP and its lobbyist supporters have the steps of the capitol littered with lawyers strewing subpoenas? Or do you think they’d just step aside and let Obama’s agenda work its way through without any contest?

This shutdown is without basis or foundation, and it’s without precedent. And it could very well be illegal, too, based on the definition of sedition.

Even if this shutdown response to irrelevant factors doesn’t constitute sedition, it’s at least hypocrisy. Just ask the American public.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've wondered this. But on the other hand, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    It does say BY FORCE before the part you bolded.

    "the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder..."

    Seem to me it can be argued that Boehner didn't use force to prevent the measure from being voted on. I do agree that otherwise sedition does seem relevant in this case. I guess the drafters of this couldn't imagine The Speaker of the House using House rules to undermine the government. Because he of all people has the power to do what he did without force.

    Wonder what the lawyers think.

    •  Yeah. I looked up the "force" thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jplanner, Tommy Aces, jmknapp53

      ...but that was no longer a strict requirement post WWI. Encouraging people not to register for the draft, for example, is sedition.

      •  or perhaps they mischarged those people? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        did they change the law or is it one of those things that precedent matters? IIRC the Supreme Court can rule about that kind of thing. Such as when they ruled that outlawing all abortion was a violation of something..

      •  And that's what we want? (0+ / 0-)

        Do we really want to validate the spurious charges of sedition that have historically been used to criminalize dissent?

        I'd think we'd want to move to a more stringent definition of "by force."

        "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

        by JamesGG on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 05:36:41 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I see what you are saying (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Tommy Aces, annominous
      "If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both."
      I'm not a lawyer either.  But I do wonder if the letter signed by the 80 members of the Tea Party Caucus demonstrates an intent to meet the conspiracy requirements.  

      Also, before the use of the word force, there are two actions, commas, and an "or" statement.  And that there is an "or" before each subsequent statement.  

      Would that leave enough room for a judge to allow at least a proceeding of a trial, or for a grand jury to allow at least an indictment to proceed?

      It would be nice to know of any cases tried under this law.  It would be even better to hear people with the proper background to debate this question.  If anything, it is an interesting question.

    •  but what is "force"? (0+ / 0-)

      Good point you're making.

      I assume that withholding the CR from coming to a vote, though, which is what specifically brought about the shutdown, would constitute "force," I guess.

  •  Most modern nations are now quietly repealing (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...their sedition laws -- especially after the West was handed its collective ass in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    It seems they were using sedition laws to harm opponents to these obscene and illegal wars.

    Sedition laws are old school. If we really enforced them, most of the hate-radio losers would be in prison.

    •  But it is a question worth asking. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      valadon, willrob
      •  To be specific: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        The UK abolished sedition laws in 2009
        Scottland in 2010
        Australia in 2011
        New Zealand in 2008

        The US still luvs its sedition, but only prosecutes civilians. Economic terrorists on the inside and Goldman Sachs types are indemnified.

        Here's a gem I found:

        In 1981, Oscar López Rivera, a Puerto Rican Nationalist and Vietnam war veteran, was convicted and sentenced to 70 years in prison for seditious conspiracy and various other offenses.

        He was offered conditional clemency by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999, but he rejected the offer.

        López Rivera is said to be "among the longest held political prisoners in the history of the world." He has been jailed for 32 years.

        We do political prisoners right!
  •  I'll let someone (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pluto, Tommy Aces, annominous

    with more legal experience inform us, but I did run across this piece from the Nation by Katrina vanden Heuvel on Sheldon Wolin's: Democracy and Counterrevolution where he says:

    the effort “to stop or reconstitute government in order to extract sweeping policy concessions amounts to an attempted coup d’état.”

    I could agree with that at least...I also read an interview by TPM of Chris Van Hollen and he said:

    What people don't know is that they rigged the rules of the House to keep the government shut down," Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), ranking member of the House Budget Committee, told TPM in an interview. "This is a blatant effort to make sure that the Senate bill did not come up for a vote.
  •  Regarding Bohner (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Tommy Aces, jmknapp53 the moment, he is operating within the law, as far as I can tell.

    Of course, if the US economy should pancake as a result of his shit-for-brains antics, all bets are off. Sedition would be the least of his worries. He would be on the run.

    IMHO, of course.

  •  Like many here I am not a lawyer either (0+ / 0-)

    but I sure would love for some to weigh in on this.  If what they have done is not illegal, it sure and hell should be.  

    Throw a million people out of work, not to mention all the other things their actions set in motion.  There needs to be pretty hideous consequences for such hideous people.

    Being against gun control makes it really, really, hard to believe you are a prolife family values kind of person..

    by fromma on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 02:49:06 AM PDT

    •  No, it shouldnt (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      eagleray, elmo, Mikey, Pluto, VClib

      There are millions of American citizens that properly voted in a formal election for people to take office and do exactly this.

      This should have ELECTORAL consequences.  The "justice" these people need to face should come from the Ballot Box.

      This is not illegal.  This is constitutional.  This is STUPID, I'm not going to argue that but for the House to take a hard line stance on the area of Government it has the most authority over (Government spending/revenue per the Origination Clause) is explicitly in line with the letter of the law.

      Vote their ass-clown asses OUT.  ...but enough with the "Treason", "Sedition", "Conspiracy" and "Imprisonment" talk.

      Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

      by Wisper on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 04:52:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  where is all this idiocy coming from? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wisper, Mikey, VClib

    is it coordinated?  tons of people keep making the same dumb argument with the same cites, and it must be coming from some centralized source like a rawstory article or something.

    •  I am a lawyer, BTW, and its plain as day (8+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mathGuyNTulsa, Wisper, eagleray, elmo, Mikey, JR, VClib, Pluto

      that none of this is illegal.  

      we are always allowed to support terrible policies.  always.  and that includes policies like shutting the government down.

    •  sorry for the harsh tone, (7+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wisper, eagleray, elmo, Mikey, JR, VClib, Pluto

      but this sort of diary has come up a lot lately, and its deeply wrong as a legal matter and pretty disturbing that people want to criminalize the political process.  it reminds me of nothing as much as similar accusations of treason from the right during the Iraq War.

      •  I get that (0+ / 0-)

        and generally feel the same way.  What has been so difficult this time is that it seems to have jumped from a political process to a hostage taking situation.  

        Say all you want about the rights of Congress, but it seems that somewhere in all of this there should be more consideration for the human beings whose livelihoods and emotional and mental well-being are being used and manipulated as part of the "political process".

        As someone currently facing imminent disastrous financial fallout from this "process" I know that I will never be able to look at my government in the same light again. I will never trust that I can have any level of financial security as long as my job and livelihood are considered "fair game" for political manipulation.  

        This was not a failure to reach an agreement - it was calculated extortion using millions of jobs as leverage for policy concessions that could not be obtained through the political process.  It astounds me that there is nothing in our legal system that protects public servants from such an abuse of power, allowing this process to ruin lives and wreak emotional havoc with each day that goes by.

        •  We've got an extremely potent mechanism (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Wisper, VClib, Pluto

          Our legal system has an extraordinarily effective mechanism for stopping public servants who subvert the national interest to their own ends.  

          They're called elections.  Plus you've got free speech, a free press, and the right to petition the government, all of which bring power to bear on the various and sundry corrupt officials behind this thing.  But at the end of the day, they vote, then we vote.  

          And, for what it's worth, it's a portion of the electorate that are demanding this nonsense.  The big money types - Wall Street, Chamber of Commerce, even the Koch Brothers - are saying that this is a waste and should stop.  It's the frothy mix of psychotic racists, fundamentalist dominionists, nihilistic Randians, and paranoid conspiracy theorists who are keeping this going.  And all their votes count.

  •  Please stop this stuff (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    eagleray, elmo, Mikey, VClib

    Advocating that one branch of government should ARREST the other branch as a result of partisan brinkmanship is one of the absolute WORST ideas I have ever seen floated on this site (and thats saying something since I read Troubadour's diaries!!).

    This is so nonsensical from a legal perspective but more to the point so utterly abhorrent from an AMERICAN perspective.

    What the House is doing is LEGAL.  Stupid, harmful, short-sighted, petty, childish, ill-advised, misleading, and demagogic ......  and LEGAL.


    Красота спасет мир --F. Dostoevsky

    by Wisper on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 04:48:31 AM PDT

  •  Sigh... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:


    "...for any Speech or Debate in either House, [Senators and Representatives] shall not be questioned in any other Place."

    From, a pretty concise explanation:

    The “speech or debate” clause is a basic protection of members of Congress in a government of separated powers. Inherited from the British parliament, the right prevents executive oppression of the legislature, and here protects members from criminal or civil liability in the performance of their legislative responsibilities.

    "Speaking for myself only" - Armando

    by JR on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 07:25:56 AM PDT

    •  BINGO - you nailed it (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      We are now seeing numerous diaries every day about how the GOP House leadership and members should be subject to some type of criminal prosecution. I am stunned that people don't understand that members of Congress have broad immunity for their actions, or non-actions, as legislators. And even more importantly why would any progressive be in favor of criminalizing politics? Long term that policy would be very harmful to progressives.

      "let's talk about that"

      by VClib on Fri Oct 11, 2013 at 07:47:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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