The Holy Grail of Law

Black’s Law Dictionary is the most widely used law dictionary in the United States. First published in 1891 by Henry Campbell Black – a 31 year old lawyer who rarely practiced law – it has been the holy grail of definitions, legal terms and maxims for generations of attorneys. As a young lawyer, it was the first legal text I purchased. Several pounds and 1,882 pages. I still have it on the shelf. . . .

With all of the bickering over the January 6th “event,” I thought it would be instructive to see how Black’s Law Dictionary explains the various terms that have been accused, denied, propounded and “defined” by politicians and the media.

INSURRECTION — “A rebellion or rising of citizens or subjects in resistance to their government.” “Insurrection shall consist in any combined resistance to the lawful authority of the state with intent to the denial thereof when the same is manifested or intended to be manifested by acts of violence.”

INSURGENT — “One who participates in an insurrection; one who opposes the execution of law by force of arms or who rises in revolt against the constituted authorities.

REBELLION — “Deliberate, organized resistance by force and arms to the laws or operations of the government committed by a subject.

SEDITION — “An insurrectionary movement tending towards treason but wanting an overt act; attempts made by meetings or speeches or by publications to disturb the tranquility of the state.”

TREASON — “The offense of attempting by overt acts to overthrow the government of the state to which the offender owes allegiance; or of betraying the state into the hands of a foreign power.

According to those involved in the January 6th invasion of the Capitol Building, the purpose was to overturn the election of Joe Biden. I read that Mitch McConnell – a Republican – called January 6th a “violent insurrection.” If it was, what – or who – inspired it? I’m just asking. . . . .

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