On Monday, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) released a letter that he and forty-six other Republican Senators signed to the leaders of Iran. The letter details the constitutional system of America and warns that any deal without the permanence of a backing of Congress could be altered by Congress or a future President. The letter has been criticized as counterproductive in some circles and Vice President Biden, a former Senator himself, blasted the letter.
Now, some are calling for the forty-seven Senators to be charged as traitors. The hashtag, #47Traitors, went viral of Twitter yesterday and was one of the top trends of the day. The critics are advocating the use of the Logan Act in this case. The Logan Act was passed during the John Adams Administration and was designed to prevent private citizens from negotating with foreign governments. The law has never been used to prosecute someone, but a Kentucky farmer was indicted in 1803 under the law.
There has been little legal action regarding the Logan Act, but in United States vs. Curtiss-Wright Exportation Corporation, the Supreme Court did rule on it:
[T]he President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it.
A White House petition on We The People was started to try the Senators under the Logan Act. The petition has over 130,000 signatures and the Administration will respond to it, since it has reached the 100,000 threshold.