Is it completely illegal and do people who have committed it have to face fines and punishments?

I asked because the same matter has negative consequences in some other countries.


2 Answers 2


This depends on what you mean under "government" and under "against". A meeting against a current administration or President or certain government policies is legal, a meeting advocating the overthrow of the government, even if the meeting itself is peaceful would be illegal.

Whoever, with intent to cause the overthrow or destruction of any such government, prints, publishes, edits, issues, circulates, sells, distributes, or publicly displays any written or printed matter advocating, advising, or teaching the duty, necessity, desirability, or propriety of overthrowing or destroying any government in the United States by force or violence, or attempts to do so; or

Whoever organizes or helps or attempts to organize any society, group, or assembly of persons who teach, advocate, or encourage the overthrow or destruction of any such government by force or violence; or becomes or is a member of, or affiliates with, any such society, group, or assembly of persons, knowing the purposes thereof— Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both, and shall be ineligible for employment by the United States or any department or agency thereof, for the five years next following his conviction.

This is from US Code, title 18, § 2385.

If you organized an assembly or advocated the desirability of the overthrow of the US government, you could be subject to twenty years in prison.

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    So it easily depends on the slogans of people who have committed it. Mar 2, 2013 at 4:45
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    @gerrit this is highly unlikely. You can agitate freely for an impeachment. The truth is you cannot affect the decision in any way, except violent. And calls for violent coup or revolution are punished in the US much more severe than in most other countries. Compare a similar norm in the Soviet law (artice 70 of the criminal code of 1960), which limited the term by 7 years.
    – Anixx
    Mar 3, 2013 at 13:23
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    I suspect that if this was done properly you could get any conviction over turned on 1st amendment grounds. I know there are militia groups that have had indictments quashed based on 1st amendment appeals. I cannot cite them because they get sealed. Aug 24, 2013 at 12:54
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    @gerrit This law only applies if you advocate overthrowing the government by force or violence, not advocating for peaceful changes in the government or even peacefully replacing the entire government. So, no, you definitely can't be charged for advocating that the President be impeached, unless, perhaps, you propose holding Congress at gunpoint to force the impeachment.
    – reirab
    Apr 30, 2015 at 20:18
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    @Anixx The Soviet law you reference was for anything that had a purpose of "undermining or weakening Soviet power", not just for advocating violent overthrow of the government as is the case with 18 USC 2385. I'm not aware of any government in any country that looks kindly on encouraging people to overthrow it violently. It should also be noted that, prior to 1960, calling for overturn or weakening of Soviet power was punishable by imprisonment of at least 6 months, up to the death penalty. So, no, the U.S. law is most certainly not more severe by comparison.
    – reirab
    Apr 30, 2015 at 20:29

Yes it is legal. It's protected by the First Amendment.

You can find such advertisements easily if you Google.

Here's a random hit:




(though, in all fairness, Occupy can't really be considered "against the government" given they are pretty much in sync with the current US Administration)

  • Thanks for the links. Twitter,facebook,wiki,wordpress,blogspot and some other sites have been blocked in Iran and I have to use of my tor project which by a low-speed internet connection it can almost be impossible. Mar 2, 2013 at 1:14
  • I wouldn't be surprised if there were unconstitutional laws against it anyway. The Constitution won't help anyone stuck in Guantanamo Bay. Sep 3, 2021 at 8:33

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