Tags: logan act

Logan Act No Problem for GOP Senators, Most Seem to Think

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 12:24 PM

MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews has suggested that the 47 Republican senators who sent a warning letter to Iran about nuclear talks violated the Logan Act, but after analyzing the ancient law other news outlets have concluded the letter isn't likely to cause any legal trouble for them.

For example, CNN summed up its analysis on Wednesday by pointing out that "the law's track record isn't exactly shudder-inducing: 216 years on the books have resulted in just one indictment and zero prosecutions."

The trouble with the law, many noted, is that its text is largely ambiguous.

One blogger, Steve Vladeck of LawfareBlog.com, explained that the act forbids citizens from engage in "any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government . . . with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government . . . in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States."

The catch, however, is that the citizen must act "without authority of the United States" to be in violation of the law.

As Vladeck wrote, "Although most assume that means without authority of the Executive Branch, the Logan Act itself does not specify what this term means, and the State Department told Congress in 1975 that 'Nothing in section 953 . . . would appear to restrict members of the Congress from engaging in discussions with foreign officials in pursuance of their legislative duties under the Constitution.'"

Defenders of the 47 Senators noted that many Democratic members of congress have inserted themselves in foreign negotiations against the wishes of the Executive Branch. Breitbart News reported that this list includes House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who visited Syrian dictator Bashar Assad in April 2007 against the wishes of the Bush administration.



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MSNBC pundit Chris Matthews has suggested that the 47 Republican senators who sent a warning letter to Iran about nuclear talks violated the Logan Act, but after analyzing the ancient law other news outlets have concluded the letter isn't likely to cause any legal trouble for them.
logan act
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2015-24-11
Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 12:24 PM
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