The Presidential Issue Facing LHS

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

(Official White House photo by Pete Souza)

Benjamin Daresavi, Writer

The misuse of the Presidential Seal is not something to be taken lightly. According to 18 U.S. Code § 713, which is a compilation of federal laws that outlines rules and regulations for activities that take place within the United States, it is illegal to use the Presidential Seal without prior approval from the President of the United States. Those who break this law can face fines and imprisonment. Despite some people claiming it as an outdated and unenforceable law, it holds great importance.

Individuals who consider the law trivial are simply unable to understand its significance. It is impossible to differentiate between an unapproved use of the Presidential Seal, such as in a class presentation, from one that has been officially approved by the President. Every time the Presidential Seal is seen, it raises the question, at least within my mind, of the immense and difficult hoop-jumping performed by an individual to land an interview with a man like Joseph Robinette Biden Jr.

The abuse of the Presidential Seal can also pose a severe threat to the country. A malicious group could potentially use the seal to send a declaration of war to another country, such as Canada, which could lead to a mistaken belief of an imminent attack and subsequent retaliation. This would convey a false impression of sponsorship or approval by the United States government. In such a case, if the other country were to believe the seal to be official, it could lead to serious consequences. However, 18 U.S. Code § 713 is thankfully in place to prevent such scenarios from occurring.

The violation of this law within schools can have detrimental consequences. According to Statista, the United States saw about 1,993 property crimes per 100,000 citizens in 2021. The illegal usage of Presidential Seals may be a contributing factor to this high crime rate. Seeing a school or government-controlled organization illegally using the seal may lead young people to believe that breaking laws is acceptable. This type of thinking can have a negative impact on society as a whole.

I conducted an experiment in Mr. Johnson’s 5th Period AP U.S. History class to gauge my classmates’ understanding of the Presidential Seal and 18 U.S. Code § 713. I entered the room with the Presidential Seal duct-taped to my chest (President Biden had not given me permission) patiently awaiting a response. To my surprise, instead of being outraged and immediately reporting me for breaking the law, they simply looked at me in confusion. When I informed them of the law I was violating, they seemed indifferent, perplexed and even questioned my sanity. Although, one student did have the knowledge to comment that I should be punished for breaking the law.

“You deserve to rot in prison for life.” was what I was told by Senior Henry Churilla.

My experiment in APUSH revealed a valuable insight: many people have a lack of knowledge about our most important U.S. laws. Fortunately, the solution is straightforward. To ensure the safety of our school community and adherence to federal law, I recommend Leonardtown should display posters around the building informing students of the contents and importance of 18 U.S. Code § 713.