Insurrection Act: Can Trump Legally Deploy U.S. Troops to U.S. Cities?

Insurrection Act: Can Trump Legally Deploy U.S. Troops to U.S. Cities?

It would be a significant turning point in the law, which was used in particular in the 1950s to impose desegregation. And later, in the 60s, to face the riots in Detroit.

Congress amended the law after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 to give more clarity about its use during natural disasters, but abandoned some of these changes a year later, after objections from state governors who did not want to relinquish their authority.

Read the comments from Trump’s Rose Garden

But Trump said Monday that if the governors didn’t act at his convenience, he would call the military.

“If the city or state refuses to take the necessary actions to defend the life and property of their residence, I will deploy the United States Army and quickly resolve the problem for them,” he said.

But there may be obstacles on what Trump can do. Part of the law suggests that states must first seek help, but other parts of the Insurrection Act do not require a governor or state legislator to be comfortable, such as when the President determines the situation in a state makes it impossible to enforce U.S. laws or when citizens’ rights are reduced.

“Historically and practically, such a request is not necessarily a prerequisite for the President who regularly uses federal troops for internal law enforcement,” said Stephen Vladeck, a University of Texas law professor and CNN collaborator.

There are examples of presidents who use troops on the objections of the governors, like Dwight Eisenhower (and later John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson) during the civil rights era. Specifically, Eisenhower invoked the Insurrection Act when he federalized the Arkansas National Guard and then sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock to integrate schools.

That use may have been in the mind of Senator Tom Cotton, Arkansas Republican, when he suggested on Twitter that Trump employed the 101st Airborne Division.

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Governors rushed to challenge Trump, like J.B. Illinois Pritzker made it to CNN shortly after Trump’s comments.

“I reject the idea that the federal government can send troops to the state of Illinois,” said Pritzker, a Democrat. “The thing is, the president created an incendiary moment here. He wants to change the subject from his coronavirus failure, a miserable failure and now sees a time when there are riots due to the injustice that was done to George Floyd that he now he wants to create another topic and something where he can be the president of law and order. “


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