Trump floats invoking 1807 Insurrection Act to ‘dominate’ protests

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The D.C. National Guard is always under the president’s command because there is no governor, which means that Trump does not have to activate any special or unusual authorities to use the units for security or policing in and around the District, Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor, said Monday.

Trump can also bring active duty military personnel into the District without using the Insurrection Act if they provide security but do not perform law enforcement duties such as the arrest and detention of protesters, Vladeck said. This is unusual but not unheard of, he added.

If Trump wants the active duty military personnel to perform civilian law enforcement duties, then he would have to invoke the Insurrection Act, Vladeck said. A president can do that without the request of the D.C. mayor because the District is not a state, he said.

The Insurrection Act, an 1807 law that governs the use of military troops within the United States to quell violence or rebellion, is open-ended and gives the president the power to decide if circumstances warrant the use of federal troops, Vladeck said.

“Historically, the real checks on abuse of these authorities have been political,” Vladeck tweeted. “The Insurrection Act hasn’t been invoked since 1992 — largely because domestic use of the military is generally unpopular.”


Niels Lesniewski and Todd Ruger

2020-06-01 16:31:12

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