The Constitution allows Michigan terrorists who plotted against Gov. Whitmer to be charged with treason. They should be.


Hours ago, the FBI and Michigan state law enforcement authorities thwarted a plot by right wing, white supremacist terrorist groups to kidnap Michigan's Democratic governor Gretchen Whitmer and to overthrow the Michigan government. They arrested 13 people connected with this act of terrorism and insurrection. Six men are facing federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap, and seven others are facing a range of state criminal charges.

But these 13 men - and any other associates of theirs - should be tried for treason.

While their planned acts of terrorism - among them storming the Michigan state capital, killing state troopers protecting the capital, and targeting Gov. Whitmer's protective detail in order to kidnap her - were not acts of war against the United States, these were acts of war against one of its states. The Constitution defines an act of treason as the act of levying war against not simply the United States as one entity, but the United States, plural.

Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution reads,

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort.

Note the plural - "levying war against them". This is not a mere linguistic distinction, either. In Article IV, Section 2, the language of the Constitution is even more explicit.

A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on Demand of the executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.

This section would seem to imply that a single state can charge the crime of treason, just like it can charge any other crime, though the punishment for treason is prescribed by Congress. It further appears that the federal government can charge someone who has levied war against a single state with treason as well. Indeed, if a person accused of treason (or any other crime) flees the original jurisdiction, only the governor of that state has the power to demand their return. It seems quite obvious to me that treason can be committed against an individual state, a group of states, or the whole of the United States.

In fact, other than giving Congress the exclusive power to define the punishment for treason, treason is not at all defined as an exclusively federal offense in the United States Constitution. Most states, including Michigan, have statutes about treason on the books.

These men - these terrorists - planned an armed insurrection against a state in the union, in effect levying war against it. In the plain language of the Constitution, they have committed treason.

They should be charged accordingly.