The Insurrection Act of 1807
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Republican party supporters are suggesting that Trump should enforce martial law in the US and seize power if he loses the November-3 election. This martial law can be imposed through the Insurrection Act of 1807.
What is the Insurrection Act of 1807?
- Under the US Constitution, the governors of states are responsible for maintaining law and order within state boundaries. A law called the Posse Comitatus Act, which reflects this principle, restricts the federal military’s participation in domestic law enforcement. The Insurrection Act creates an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act.
- The Insurrection Act was framed during the era of Thomas Jefferson, the third US President, to prevent a suspected rebellion by Aaron Burr, his former vice-president.
- The law has since been amended several times, and now consists of a group of statutes that empower the US President to use the National Guard or the military to deal with domestic crises, in certain circumstances.
- The President does not require the state governor’s approval to send troops under some scenarios laid down by the law. A successful legal challenge to such use of the law is also “very unlikely”.
- Although the Act has been enforced on numerous occasions in US history, its use in recent decades has been widely seen as unpopular. It has been used sparingly since the 1960s, and was last invoked during the Rodney King unrest of 1992.