Congressman Bob Brady (D-PA) of Philadelphia has followed through on his promise to introduce a bill to criminalize threatening speech against members of Congress. His bill would piggy-back on existing law that makes it a crime to threaten the President or Vice-President. The existing law, 18 USC 871, makes it a crime to:
Whoever knowingly and willfully deposits for conveyance in the mail or for a delivery from any post office or by any letter carrier any letter, paper, writing, print, missive, or document containing any threat to take the life of, to kidnap, or to inflict bodily harm upon the President of the United States, the President-elect, the Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President of the United States, or the Vice President-elect, or knowingly and willfully otherwise makes any such threat against the President, President-elect, Vice President or other officer next in the order of succession to the office of President, or Vice President-elect, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.
The text of Brady’s bill, HR 318, is below. Currently, it has no co-sponsors.
Mr. BRADY of Pennsylvania introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary
To amend title 18, United States Code, to punish threats to commit violent crimes against Members of Congress, and for other purposes.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. AMENDMENTS TO SECTION 871.
Section 871 of title 18, United States Code, is amended by striking `or Vice President-elect’ and inserting `Vice President-elect, Member of Congress or Member-of-Congress-elect’.
SEC. 2. AMENDMENT TO SECTION HEADING AND TABLE OF SECTIONS.
(a) Section Heading- The heading for section 871 of title 18, United States Code, is amended to read as follows:
`Sec. 871. Threats against President, Vice President, and Members of Congress’.
(b) Table of Sections- The item for section 871 in the table of sections at the beginning of chapter 41 is amended to read as follows:
`871. Threats against President, Vice President, and Members of Congress.’.
I know Members of Congress are convinced of their own importance but frankly they are not the Head of State and don’t need to have the Secret Service following up on every letter from an angry constituent. This is not to say that credible threats should not be investigated. They are and should be investigated. However, there are plenty of other laws on the books, both Federal and state, which can take care of these type of offenses without making one specifically for Members of Congress. People have spoken of the Imperial Presidency for decades. We don’t need to add the Imperial Congress to that list.