STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.
Does Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution state that treason is defined as the government leaving its "borders not protected" and does it declare "that the government will give comfort and aid to a hostile foreign invasion when the borders are not protected"? No, that's not true: Article 3, Section 3 makes no mention of borders. Rather, it defines treason, empowers Congress to punish treasonous acts and establishes limits on such punishments.
The claim originated in a video shared on Instagram on May 21, 2023, with a caption that reads:
We're witnessing the fall of our nation, all by design.
Share this to help spread the word and to join me in being awake & ready to resist evil agendas.
A speaker in the video falsely asserts the following:
Did you know that Article 4, Section 4 of the United States Constitution requires the government to defend and protect its borders? If our government does not uphold this, the Constitution authorizes its free citizens to defend and protect themselves and their state in place of a treasonous government.
Even more interesting is that under Article 3, Section 3 of the Constitution, it declares that the government will give comfort and aid to a hostile foreign invasion when the borders are not protected.
And that, my friends, is labeled treason.
Below is how the post appeared at the time of this writing:
(Source: Instagram screenshot taken Thurs June 8 12:19:39 UTC 2023)
Praveen Fernandes, vice president of the think tank the Constitutional Accountability Center in Washington, D.C., confirmed to Lead Stories in an email received on June 14, 2023, that the "text of the Constitution does not 'declare' what the speaker does."
The claim made in the video is a misinterpretation of Article 4, Section 4 and Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution. Article 4 establishes states' powers in relation to one another, while Article 3 defines treason and sets forth punishment procedures.
However, Fernandes cautioned that the "question of how that text has been interpreted by courts is a little more complicated."
Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution
Article 4 defines citizenship and states' powers in relation to one other. It also establishes that states can create and enforce their own laws but must respect and enforce the laws of others, according to The National Constitution Center. Furthermore, Section 4 specifically states that the U.S. government will protect each state against invasion and domestic violence. It makes no such authorization that "free citizens" can "defend and protect themselves and their state in place of a treasonous government," nor does it establish the ability to "defend and protect its borders."
Article 4, Section 4 reads:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
Article 3, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution
Article 3 "establishes and empowers the judicial branch of the national government," according to The National Constitution Center. More specifically, Section 3 defines treason, empowers Congress to punish treason, establishes how treason may be punished and places limits on those punishments. It does not declare that the government can comfort and aid foreign invasion when borders are unprotected and, in fact, makes no mention of borders.
Article 3, Section 3 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. 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.
The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted.
Section 3 also requires that at least two witnesses testify to the treasonous act or that an individual accused of treason confess in court.
Interpretations of Article 3, Section 3 have varied over time, but in June 2023 the Cornell Law School Legal Information Institute defined treason as "the betrayal of one's own country by attempting to overthrow the government through waging war against the state or materially aiding its enemies." The institute also noted that 18 U.S.C § 2381 "states that a person guilty of treason against the United States 'shall suffer death, or shall be imprisoned not less than five years and fined under this title but not less than $10,000; and shall be incapable of holding any office under the United States.'"
Lead Stories has also reported that the Constitution does not say that a candidate can win by simply declaring themself a political winner, that the U.S. Supreme Court did not find the U.S. guilty of "Constitutional Treason" in 1867 and that Title 10 and Executive Order 13912 does not override the Constitution, which states that the president is elected by the Electoral College.
2023-06-15T20:28:46Z 2023-06-15T20:28:46ZAdds quote from constitutional law expert.