What is a seditious conspiracy? Stewart Rhodes convicted of January 6 charges

Stewart Rhodes, founder of the right-wing militia group Oath Keepers, has been found guilty of seditious conspiracy for plotting to violently overthrow President Joe Biden’s electoral college victory in 2020.

Rhodes is the latest Jan. 6 rioter convicted of transgressions that day, when supporters of ousted President Donald Trump besieged the US Capitol to force Congress to block Biden’s victory. During his seven-week trial, prosecutors tried to frame Rhodes as an attempt to plot a violent insurgency aimed at disrupting the peaceful transfer of power.

Rhodes faces 20 years in prison. A jury found Rhodes and Kelly Meggs, the leader of the Florida Oath Keepers, guilty of the rarely heard charge of seditious conspiracy. Before the jury’s decision on Tuesday, the indictment had not been used in the United States for decades

The United States Code defines seditious conspiracy as a conspiracy to “overthrow, suppress, or destroy by force, or to wage war against, the Government of the United States.”

Stewart Rhodes found guilty of seditious conspiracy
Rioters storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 after failing to prevent Congress from confirming President Joe Biden’s victory. On Tuesday, Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers, was found guilty of seditious conspiracy in the attack.
Win McNamee/Getty Images

It also defines the indictment as the use of force to “prevent, impede, or delay the execution of any United States law” or “to seize, take, or possess United States property contrary to its authority.”

Legislatures created the seditious Conspiracy Act after the Civil War. It was used to impeach Southerners who fought and could continue to fight the US government. The accusation is hardly ever used today, since it is considered difficult to prove due to its broad definition.

No one had been convicted of seditious conspiracy since 1995, when Omar Abdel-Rahman was found guilty of his role in planning the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. He died in federal prison in 2017.

According to the Associated Press, in 2010 the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed seditious conspiracy charges against members of the Hutaree militia, accusing the group of plotting an anti-government insurgency. A judge acquitted the charges, arguing prosecutors had failed to prove the militia had a detailed plan to do so.

Legal experts on Tuesday commended the DOJ for successfully indicting Rhodes.

“Great job by the DOJ in indicting a seditious conspiracy and arguing that an attack on Congress to stop the President’s transfer of power is a felony. Accountability is essential to deterrence.” tweeted former federal prosecutor Barbara McQuade.

Court documents revealed messages exchanged between Rhodes and other Oath Keepers prior to the riot. In one Rhodes wrote: “We will have to carry out a bloody, massively bloody revolution against them. That has to happen.”

https://www.newsweek.com/what-seditious-conspiracy-stewart-rhodes-convicted-january-6-charge-1763344 What is a seditious conspiracy? Stewart Rhodes convicted of January 6 charges

Rick Schindler

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