Would calling for the seizure of guns from unnamed citizens and the suspension of due process in doing so constitute treason?

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    "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort." -- Article III, Section 3 of the US Constitution. – cHao Mar 13 '18 at 22:22
  • @cHao: Post this as an answer? – Nate Eldredge Mar 13 '18 at 22:30
  • @NateEldredge: Done :) – cHao Mar 13 '18 at 22:56
  • What are the specific actions that constitute levying war? Levying seems a rather archaic term. Tweeting about it? – Skip2molou Mar 13 '18 at 23:25
  • The more apt application of this would be "adhering to their enemies", where "adhere" could mean "believe in, follow the practices of", and "enemies" would be "anyone seeking to obliterate the nation". The courts have never ruled on who our "enemies" are. – user6726 Mar 13 '18 at 23:47

Treason is basically the only crime explicitly defined by the Constitution. According to Article III, Section 3:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

So, no. What this hypothetical president is calling for is unconstitutional, is almost certainly grounds for impeachment, and may even be criminal, but treason it ain't.

And that's assuming he actually does it. Simply calling for it, without acting (or directing others to act) to bring it about, may well be protected by the First Amendment.

  • From wiki: Some oaths of office are a statement of loyalty to a constitution or other legal text or to a person or other office-holder (e.g., an oath to support the constitution of the state, or of loyalty to the king). Under the laws of a state it may be considered treason or a high crime to betray a sworn oath of office. – Skip2molou Mar 14 '18 at 10:07
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    Not in the US, it's not. The Constitution defines treason narrowly, and doesn't include betraying an oath as a treasonous act. Impeachable, almost certainly, but not treasonous. State constitutions or laws may have a different definition, but the President of the US is not bound by that definition. – cHao Mar 14 '18 at 12:48
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    He's probably not doing anything illegal until he acts, or orders the executive branch to act. The President has freedom of speech too. :P Once he acts, he will be violating Article II, Section 3, and with it his oath of office. Such a flagrant violation would be grounds for impeachment under the "high crimes and misdemeanors" clause (which basically refers to breaking oaths of office, abuse of power, and other such stuff), but might not constitute a criminal act. (The laws on perjury don't seem to apply to oaths of office.) – cHao Mar 14 '18 at 18:31
  • Impeachment is a political action not a criminal one. And perjury does not apply to oaths of office. Fascinating. Thanks for clearing that up. – Skip2molou Mar 17 '18 at 12:17

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