[Vision2020] Laws Complicate Trump’s Threat of Sending Troops to Minneapolis
thansen at moscow.com
Sat May 30 08:15:59 PDT 2020
This was tried before. Remember . . .
Courtesy of Bloomberg at:
Laws Complicate Trump’s Threat of Sending Troops to Minneapolis
Under normal circumstances, an American president can’t simply send in the military to enforce the law in a city or state, as President Donald Trump threatened following this week’s unrest in Minneapolis.
That doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just highly unlikely, experts say.
Trump tweeted his vow hours after a crowd set a police station ablaze Thursday night to protest the death of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man who died in custody after pleading that he could not breathe. The police officer who was seen on video pinning Floyd’s neck with his knee was arrested Friday and charged with murder in a case that sparked protests across the U.S., the Associated Press reported.
Federal law generally bars the military from enforcing laws at home, leaving policing to state and local authorities. That ban on using the military to enforce civilian laws includes the National Guard, the service Trump mentioned in a series of angry tweets late Thursday. The separation of duties stretches back to the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in the aftermath of the Civil War.
The laws, however, do contain exceptions. The most politically fraught involve quelling an insurrection on U.S. soil.
National Guards answer to states unless and until they are federalized by the president. A governor or legislature can ask for the Guard’s help putting down an insurrection. The president can also unilaterally deploy any branch of the military to a state where people have mounted a revolt against the federal government.
But the protests and looting that erupted this week after Floyd’s death aren’t an insurrection, said Dwight Stirling, chief executive officer of the Center for Law and Military Policy think tank.
“The definition of ‘insurrection’ is when people try to overthrow their government. That’s when there are mobs of people with firearms marching on the state capital -- that’s insurrection,” said Stirling, who’s also an attorney with the California National Guard. “What’s happening here is civil unrest, protests.”
Although the president, as commander in chief, could place Minnesota’s National Guard units under his direct control, they would then generally be prohibited from acting as law-enforcement officers, Stirling said. In contrast, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz was within his rights to deploy the Guard to assist local police -- so long as the force continues to operate under state authority.
It is exceedingly rare for a president to mobilize the National Guard within a state against a governor’s wishes. It is also unwise, Stirling said. Guard members who, under most circumstances follow a chain of command that leads to the governor, would suddenly be taking orders from a different chain of command with different wishes.
“It would place the service members of the Minnesota National Guard in an untenable position,” he said. “It would cause such deep confusion that it would probably result in chaos.”
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