Can we Prosecute Corrupt Bureaucrats Even Though They Were ‘Just Following Orders?’

Lawcrimes: Can We, the Citizens of the United States, Prosecute Bureaucrats Who Violated US Law by ‘Just Following Orders’ (to Execute Obama’s Un-Constitutional Directives)?  The Answer Is, “Yes, We Can!”


“I have heard the Court’s severe verdict of guilty.  I see myself disappointed in my hopes for justice.  I cannot recognize the verdict of guilty.  I understand the demand for atonement for the crimes which were perpetrated against the Jews.  The witnesses’ statements here in the Court made my limbs go numb once again, just as they went numb when once, acting on orders, I had to look at the atrocities.  It was my misfortune to become entangled in these atrocities.  But these misdeeds did not happen according to my wishes.  It was not my wish to slay people.  The guilt for the mass murder is solely that of the political leaders.”  —Adolf Eichmann, making his final plea for life, using the Nuremberg Defense that he was just following orders, at his 1961 war-crimes trial in Israel

The fact that a person acted pursuant to order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.  —Principle IV of the Nuremberg principles.

What Is Seditious Conspiracy?

When there is an organized conspiracy of actors to oppose by force the enforcement of US law—whether from without or within the government itself—the people involved in such a conspiracy are guilty of “seditious conspiracy” and may be put on trial under 18 U.S. Code § 2384: “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.”

Trending: Obama Forgot He is No Longer President, Shows Up at G20 Summit

Government employees who assist an outlaw administration in its breaking of the laws of the United States, or its refusal to enforce those laws, or both, are guilty of seditious conspiracy.  (Keep in mind that government bureaucrats’ issuing and executing of illegal policies are, indeed, ultimately carried out by force—at gunpoint, no less—in the persons of government officials.)  But none of these bad actors, from Washington bureaucrats to government deputies are allowed to say that they were just following orders.  Due to the illegality—indeed the seditious nature—of their actions, these officials can all be removed from their offices.

An American Tradition of Only Obeying Lawful Orders

There is indeed precedent for government employees being required to follow lawful orders only.  Members of the US military, for example, are supposed to refuse to follow any illegal orders given them.  During the Iran-Contra Hearings of 1987, World War Two war hero Senator Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) accused Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North of violating his military oath when he followed orders issued by President Ronald Reagan, since those orders were, in Inouye’s opinion, unlawful.

Inouye made the following statement:

“The uniform code makes it abundantly clear that it must be the Lawful orders of a superior officer.  In fact it says, ‘Members of the military have an obligation to disobey unlawful orders.’  This principle was considered so important that we—we, the government of the United States—proposed that it be internationally applied in the Nuremberg trials.”

Senator Inouye was referring to the Nuremberg Trials that occurred in the immediate aftermath of World War Two, when the Allies tried Nazi war criminals for crimes against humanity, while not allowing them to use the defense that they were “just following orders.”  In “draining the swamp,” as Trump so aptly describes the daunting task of ridding Washington of the high crimes and misdemeanors of our time, the federal bureaucracy and the judicial branch must be dealt with.

The Federal Bureaucracy

During the eight years of the Obama Administration, executive orders, executive memos, and other executive actions emanated from the White House that were against the laws which had been written by the representatives of the American people.  Federal bureaucrats working in the executive branch for the various departments of the government did exactly as they were bidden.  Even when they were directed by the US Supreme Court to abandon illegal EPA rules, Obama shot back at the Court:

“There is no reason that this Court ruling should have any impact on the ability of the Administration to develop and implement the Clean Air Plan [that the Court has now judged to be illegal].”

And, regardless of the Supreme Court ruling that the EPA cannot legally restrict coal emissions to the extent that power plants would be forced to shut down, Obama bureaucrats, in lockstep with the president’s will, said “Yes, sir” to Obama’s clearly-illegal orders and carried them out anyway.  In so doing, they broke the law.  And they all should pay the same price any other American would pay for breaking the law.  They should be fired from their jobs.  Some might also deserve to be prosecuted and fined.

But they are not allowed to say they were “just following orders.”  Real people’s lives were affected by their illegal actions.  A small example would be the coal miners who were laid off, some who may have—due to their ensuing bouts with depression—lost their relationships or even committed suicide.

Scofflaw bureaucrats who “just follow orders,” without any moral compass or sense of duty to the American people, must be terminated.  The first step might be for President Trump to offer current federal workers, who carried out the last administration’s illegal commands, a severance package accompanied by a promise not to prosecute them, if they will leave their posts voluntarily; this would be an exercise in prosecutorial discretion.  Step two would be to bring formal charges against all bureaucrat refuseniks, under 18 U.S. Code § 2384.

The Federal Judiciary

Judges of the federal judiciary, who have made extra-legal or anti-Constitutional rulings, should be relieved of office, since they are not serving in “good behavior.”  Indeed, their bad behavior might be described, in Constitutional language, as misdemeanors.  In Article III, Section 1, of the US Constitution, the following is stated: “The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.”  So, good behavior is required, and there is no guarantee of lifetime service.

Furthermore, the Constitution states, in Article II, Section 4, the following: “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”  Misdemeanors would encompass such acts as legislating from the bench in contradiction to the law of the land and the US Constitution.  In fact, Judge John Pickering, of the federal district court in New Hampshire, was impeached and removed from office for public drunkenness, among other wrongdoings that were probably impacted by his state of intoxication.  There were a total of four articles of impeachment for Pickering.  Here are actual words from the fourth article:

“That whereas for the due, faithful, and impartial administration of justice, temperance and sobriety are essential qualities in the character of a judge, yet the said John Pickering, being a man of loose morals and intemperate habits, on the 11th and 12th days of November, in the year 1802, being then judge of the district court in and for the district of New Hampshire, did appear on the bench of the said court for the administration of justice in a state of total intoxication, produced by the free and intemperate use of intoxicating liquors; and did then and there frequently, in a most profane and indecent manner, invoke the name of the Supreme Being, to the evil example of all the good citizens of the United States; and was then and there guilty of other high misdemeanors, disgraceful to his own character as a judge and degrading to the honor of the United States.”

The case could be made that Pickering’s misdemeanors were lesser offenses than the wholesale usurpation of the legislative powers of Congress.

Trump Has Already Started

President Trump is already off to a good start in reducing the size of government.  He has already issued one executive order to freeze hiring and another one to cut bureaucratic spending in order to fund a military build-up.  This article has been written in the hope that the ideas contained herein might help the president finish the job.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by

Join the conversation!

We have no tolerance for comments containing violence, racism, vulgarity, profanity, all caps, or discourteous behavior. Thank you for partnering with us to maintain a courteous and useful public environment where we can engage in reasonable discourse.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Send this to a friend