by Stephen Smith
Recently our state elected officials have been passing bills and enacting policies that appear to stand in opposition to federal law and federal jurisdiction. I have begun wondering if it is time for us to begin a conversation about whether these acts of defiance rise to the level of sedition. Let’s start by examining the meaning of “sedition,” a little history, applicable law and the Constitution.
Wikipedia defines “sedition” as “overt conduct, such as speech and organization, that tends toward insurrection against the established order. Sedition often includes subversion of a constitution and incitement of resistance to lawful authority.”
Resisting lawful federal authority and subverting the Constitution? If you follow the news out of Sacramento, I think I may be on to something. I then looked up the Alien and Sedition Act and what was happening when it was passed.
The Alien and Sedition Act was enacted by Congress and signed into law by President John Adams in 1798. We were preparing for war against France and there was distrust of French immigrants. Virginia and Kentucky took issue with the new laws and passed their own state laws that stood in opposition to federal law. This issue of states’ rights and Federalism contributed to the secession movement.
In summary, the Act establishes the right of the fed
eral government to deport foreigners, not allowing them to vote and directs punishment of incarceration and fines for any persons who conspire with intent to oppose any measures of the government of the United States which are directed by proper authority (e.g. the president) or to impede the operation of any law of the United States. In Sec. 2, it goes on to say, “or shall knowingly and willingly assist or aid in writing, printing, uttering or publishing any false, scandalous and malicious writing or writings against the government,” the Congress or the president.
What are the requirements placed on our state elected officials regarding the U.S. Constitution and federal laws?
All of our elected officials are expected to enforce and follow the U.S. Constitution. The basic oath of office for California includes swearing to support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of the State of California against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that they will bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and the State of California.
We know from Article VI, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution that federal laws have supremacy over all local and state laws.
Where does this leave us?
Lawmakers have declared California a Sanctuary State. They have directed law enforcement officers to ignore federal immigration laws and not inform of, or release to ICE agents, any immigration violators currently held in custody. In so doing, not only have our California elected endangered our citizens by forcing ICE to make arrests in homes and the community rather than in the safe custody of incarceration, our leadership have been acting in conflict with the Supremacy Clause and the Alien and Sedition Act.
Further; our Attorney General Xavier Becerra is threatening to prosecute any business who assists ICE. There are proposals to withhold tax from the federal government by declaring state income tax a charity, shielding the richest Californians from paying their fair share and requiring businesses to pay half of any federal tax savings to the state, denying them opportunities to raise wages and use the savings to grow their business and provide more jobs.
Combine all this with the frivolous state sponsored lawsuits against federal law, clearly the California elected have violated their oath of office and by any definition are purveyors of sedition. History is repeating itself over issues of immigration and deportation. The conflict of State vs. Federal rights has become very real. Will we learn from the past or sail our ship of state on these very hazardous waters? God preserve us!