What Is the Insurrection Act of 1807 and Does It Really Give Trump Power to Mobilize Troops in the US?

The president said he would deploy the military if cities and states don’t “do what’s necessary to stop the violence”

Last Updated: June 1, 2020 @ 5:14 PM

President Trump announced Monday that he was deploying the D.C. National Guard and vowed to mobilize the military to put an end to the protests around the country following the death of George Floyd, something he can do under the Insurrection Act of 1807.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 serves is an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act, which prohibits the president from deploying the military in domestic law enforcement situations. Trump did not mention the Insurrection Act of 1807 specifically in his Rose Garden speech, but did say, “If a city or states refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.”

The Insurrection Act of 1807 states, “Whenever there is an insurrection in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened, call into Federal service such of the militia of the other States, in the number requested by that State, and use such of the armed forces, as he considers necessary to suppress the insurrection.”

While the Insurrection Act of 1807 can be invoked when requested by a governor, it also allows the president to deploy the military if he believes it is necessary to suppress an insurrection. This provision states, “Whenever the President considers that unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages or rebellion against authority of United States makes it impracticable to enforce the law of the United States in any State or territory by judicial proceedings, the President may call into Federal service the militia of any State and use the Federal military to enforce the laws or suppress the rebellion.”

“If a city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residents, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them,” Trump said before reporters on Monday. “I am mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military, to stop the rioting and looting, to end the destruction and arson, and to protect the rights of law-abiding Americans, including your Second Amendment rights.”

The Insurrection Act of 1807 was used in Florida in 1989 to put an end to looting after Hurricane Hugo and in Los Angeles in 1992 to stop the riots following the Rodney King verdict.

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