The Hard Truth

Journal of Political News & Constitutionalism

Arrest for Obama Threats Leads to Questions

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By Brian K. Lutes

The recent arrest of a North Carolina man for allegedly threatening to kill Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama (please see “NC Man Arrested, Jailed for Supposedly Threatening Obama” posted 9-23-08) has led me to ask a few questions and make a few observations.

Q: Just where does the US Secret service get the authority to protect “Major” presidential candidates?

 A: Section 3056, Sub-Section A7 of Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC 3056 A7) says: “Under the direction of the Secretary of Homeland Security, the US Secret Service is authorized to protect the following persons: “Major” presidential & vice presidential candidates within 120 days of  a general presidential election.

Q: Where does the US Secret Service get the authority to arrest someone for “threatening” a “Major” presidential candidate?

A: Section 3056, sub-section b1 of Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC 3056 b1) says: “Under the direction of the Secretary of Homeland Security the US Secret Service is authorized to detect & arrest any person who violates” certain sections of the US Code.

Q: Who decides what candidates for the office of President are “Major” candidates for the purposes of Secret Service protection?

A: Section 3056, Sub-section A7 of Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC 3056 A7) says:”Major Presidential & Vice Presidential candidates will be identified by the Secretary of Homeland Security after consultation with an advisory committee consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the Minority Leader of the House, the Majority & Minority Leaders of the Senate, & 1 additional member selected by the above listed members of the committee. * This section also says that the advisory committee shall NOT be subject to the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 USC Appendix 2) which requires, among other things: that “Congress and the public should be kept informed with respect to the number, purpose membership, activities, and costs of committees.”

Q: What can happen to someone who interferes with the Secret Service while they are protecting the President, Vice President, other person?

A: Section 3056, Sub-section d of Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC 3056d) says: “Whoever knowingly & willfully obstructs, resists, or interferes with a federal law enforcement agent engaged in the performance of the protective functions authorized by this section or section 1752 of this title shall be fined not more than $1,000 or imprisoned not more than 1 year or both.

Q: Can the Secret Service order me to stay out of a particular building or area of a building or grounds?

A: Yes. Section 1752, Sub-section A1 of Title 18 of the US Code (18 USC 1752 a1) says: “it shall be unlawful for any person or group of people to willfully or knowingly to enter or remain in any posted, cordoned off, or otherwise restricted area of a building or grounds where the President or other person protected by the Secret service is, or will be, visiting.

Q: Can the US Secret Service give me a traffic ticket?

A: No; At least not in Pennsylvania. The Pennsylvania supreme Court in the case of Commonwealth v. Price,543 Pa. 403, 672 A.2d 280 (1996), held that federal agents are not authorized under either state or federal law nor under common law to make warrant-less arrests for traffic or for misdemeanor crimes. Federal agents are “authorized to make warrant-less arrests only where he has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed or is committing any felonycognizable under the laws of the United States (Federal)” as per section 3052 of Title 18 of the US Code(18 USC 3052).

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Written by bkl1

September 24, 2008 at 5:51 pm

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