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Yale Legal Scholar and Oathkeepers Founder Says NDAA Violates "Treason Clause" of Constitution

Updated on December 13, 2012

Making the argument that the Constitution already specifically provides for acts of treason in wartime, Yale Law School graduate and legal scholar Stewart Rhodes declared in a speech before county sheriffs and other law enforcement officials that the NDAA military detention of US citizens law is unconstitutional. Rhodes said that the Constitution already stipulates how American "enemy combatants" are to be treated in Article 3 of the US Constitution, in the "Treason Clause."

The Treason Clause states that suspected enemies of the nation who are US citizens are guaranteed a civil trial which must include the testimony of two witnesses, or a confession, to convict.

The Treason Clause of Article 3 of the Constitution states:

"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.."

Rhodes is also the founder and president of Oath Keepers, an organization of both active-duty and former law enforcement personnel, as well as military, who vow to obey their oath to uphold the US Constitution, by disobeying unconstitutional orders. Among these are depriving Americans of their rights under the Bill of Rights.

Bob Adelmann has written for the New American:

the Article III Treason Clause establishes the only constitutional form of trial for an American, not serving in the military, who is accused of making war on his own nation. Such a trial for treason must be before a civilian jury, not a tribunal.

A number of states such as Virginia and Michigan have passed laws which order state law enforcement not to cooperate with federal officials operating under NDAA authority, which allow the US military to indefinitely detain, in military custody, any US citizen without charge or trial. This movement which is active in many states is commonly known as "NDAA nullification."

Rhodes passionately tells the audience of two grandfathers who fought in World War II, one of whom "did not come back." He says that their fight against fascism cannot have been in vain, but it is up to every military and law enforcement official to understand when an order is illegal and unconstitutional. Rhodes won the prestigious Judge William E. Miller Prize while at Yale Law School, for his paper "Solving the Puzzle of Enemy Combatant Status."


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