Liberty or Laws?
Treason Against the State
Outpost of Freedom
July 24, 2014
Discussions regarding Treason are a common subject in the patriot community. Most often, if not always, they refer to the provision in the Constitution that defines Treason against the United States, specifically, Article III, §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. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
This requires a specific act, not a general presumption. It also requires either “levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.” Now, there has not been any “levying War” against them since World War II. Nor, surprisingly, have we (The United States) had any “Enemies” since then.
The matter of enemies came up in a Supreme Court decision (Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1) in that era when German soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes, came ashore and plotted to destroy infrastructure. In the Court establishing jurisdiction, they made clear that Congress had, in fact, declared war against Germany. This made Quirin and the other defendants “Enemies”. However, these elements only apply to the federal government, as the Constitution is the document that created that body. Treason then, according to the Constitution, only applies to enemies of the government created thereby.
However, as in the previous articles dealing with repelling invasion (Militia in Defense of the State) and militia (Militia in Aid of Our Neighbor), we must look in a different direction than just the federal Constitution.
In October 1776, Connecticut passed “An Act for the Punishment of High Treason and other atrocious Crimes against the State. It read, in part,
“That if any person or persons belonging to or residing within this state and under the protection of its laws, shall levy war against the state or government thereof, or knowingly and willingly shall aid or assist any enemies at open war against this state or the United States of America by joining their armies or by enlisting or procuring or persuading others to enlist for that purpose or shall form or be in any way concerned in forming any combination, plot, or conspiracy for betraying this state or the United States into the hands or power of any foreign enemy, or shall give or attempt to give or send any intelligence to the enemies of this state for that purpose, upon being convicted shall suffer death.”
Even though the Constitution was over a decade into the future, the separation/distinction between Connecticut state government and the national government was clearly expressed. One could commit Treason against Connecticut and not commit Treason against the United States, and vice-versa. Is it also possible that “the United States of America” could commit Treason against Connecticut, or vice-versa? After all, this enactment was to make criminal the support of the British government that had just been ousted.
The defining aspects of Treason, under this act, are far more extensive than those in the Constitution, and the requirement for two witnesses to the act, or “Confession”, are not imposed upon the need for conviction.
Had the United States of America, after that enactment favored the British, then Connecticut was totally within her authority to levy charges anyone from the United States of America with Treason. So, we have the same layering of jurisdiction on Treason that we have for the militia and repelling invasion. Since Connecticut was, in a sense, a lesser player (subordinate to the Continental Congress), and still had the authority to charge those above with Treason, if they committed the acts described, then we must also assume that the authority for such has come from the people of Connecticut, as they created the government of their choosing.
Of course, the consequence of charges of Treason against employees or agents of the federal government is grounds for potential armed conflict, unless handled politically, it is, surely, a possibility, should the federal government be determined to be aiding an enemy of a State. The State, however, does not have the requirement for Declaration of War by the Congress as a part of its limitations. Its perception of “enemy” does not fall within the constraints and limitations imposed upon the federal government. Nor, should the people of a state be required to abide by those constraints to determine whether someone is guilty of Treason. Our effort is not to arrest and try them. It is to understand the perspective of those who have seen so many violations of not only the federal Constitution, but the constitution of their own state.
For a more thorough understanding of the relationship between the people of any government, especially one such as ours, of the people, both state and federal, I would suggest an article on the subject, Sons of Liberty #14.
The final determination as to whether we have Liberty or are subject to laws foreign to our constitutions, resides wholly in our determination whether the governments are abiding by the documents that created them, or not.