Issues & Insights

Yes, Trump Can Use Military To Quell Spreading Riots — And He Should, If States, Cities Fail To Do The Job

An Antifa "demonstration." Source: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump says he may call out the military to quell riots if the states refuse to do their duty to protect their citizens. But can he even do that? His harshest critics say no, but they’re very wrong.

The riots and looting that have taken place across the country are anything but “peaceful.” And while all of us agree peaceful demonstrations are acceptable, even if we don’t agree with them, the recent orgy of violence has been driven by far-left anarchists and others bent on taking down a democratically elected government.

Even so, many in the Democratic Party, including former President Barack Obama and current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, are not exactly covering themselves in glory when they say they “understand” why the violence is happening but can’t quite bring themselves to condemn it.

“Once the violence began, any effort to ‘understand’ it should have stopped, since that understanding is inevitably exculpatory,” writes Heather Mac Donald in City Journal. “The looters are not grieving over the stomach-churning arrest and death of George Floyd; they are having the time of their lives. You don’t protest or mourn a victim by stealing oxycontin, electronics, jewelry, and sneakers.”

Police are under assault, with “dozens” of serious injuries reported in such cities as New York, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and elsewhere. In New York alone, a policeman was run over by a car, while an officer in the Bronx was “mowed down” by an SUV. Meanwhile, Secret Service officers protecting the president were injured as rioters threw objects and lit fires near the White House.

Then there’s this scary Daily Caller headline: “At Least Five Police Officers Reportedly Shot, One On Life Support As Rioters And Law Enforcement Battle Across The Country.”

Meanwhile, according to CNN, a half dozen civilians have died in the violence, and it’s a wonder there haven’t been more.

This is not “peaceful” protest, as Mac Donald points out. It’s a dangerous insurrection fueled by extremist, far-left elements of Antifa, which get succor and support from so-called “progressives” in the Democratic Party. They are supporting terrorists, and they know it.

Nor are these spontaneous events. Rather, increasingly, police and other officials say it’s clear there’s both planning and funding behind the destruction, with some pointing a finger at the violent Antifa group. The “rage” people talk about is in fact cynically contrived.

The Democratic Blue State governors and local officials who refuse to protect lives and property are doing their citizens and the nation’s rule of law a grave disservice. Their failure to act is itself a kind of misconduct at best, actual malfeasance at worst, given virtually all are sworn to protect our constitutional order.

“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 Monday.

Nonetheless, some assert the use of U.S. troops of any kind to end these riots is illegal or at least questionable. They cite the Posse Comitatus Act, passed in 1878, that prohibits the use of federal troops in most cases.

But they’re wrong. Because one of the things that the law, passed during Reconstruction after the Civil War, did was include the much-older Insurrection Acts, dating from 1807.

As a 2018 research paper by the Congressional Research Service observed, “The Constitution permits Congress to authorize the use of the militia ‘to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.’ And it guarantees the states protection against invasion or usurpation of their ‘republican form of government,’ and, upon the request of the state legislature, against domestic violence.”

It’s one thing to question whether Trump should call out the military. That’s a fair debate. Honorable people can disagree.

But make no mistake, Trump has the right and, a case can be made, the moral obligation in this instance, to call out U.S. troops to protect our republic from those who would overthrow our constitutional order. States, of course, are free to reject such help. But then again, telling citizens “you’re on your own” might not be a popular position for even a Trump-hating progressive to take.

In short, though he’s been criticized by all the predictable sources, including by “never-Trumpers” on the right, Trump can call out troops to meet a challenge to our nation’s very existence. The Constitution is not a suicide pact.

This violence is a sickness in our body politic far worse than COVID-19. Declaring Antifa a terrorist group is only the first step to finding a cure. We must stop Antifa and its allies from transforming America’s constitutional republic, based on individual rights, democracy and rule of law, into something quite different: A far-left, one-party, dictatorial dystopia with no rights at all.

— Written by the I&I Editorial Board

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13 comments

  • The Insurrection act of 1807 allows any president to use the military to stop this kind of crap. Look it up. Don’t even bother flapping your jaws about posse comitatus.

    • The amended insurrection act of 1807, was amended in 1956 that removed the prerequisite bound by the Constitution. That Prerequisite was Article 1, section 8, clause 15.

  • Firearms are classified as handguns, rifles, and shotguns. In the United States over 300 million people own firearms. Of this, 100 million own handguns. The following statistics portray current gun ownership statistics in the US. 1. 40-45% of 47-53 million Americans have a household with a gun. 2. 30-34% of 70-80 million Americans own a gun.

  • Civil war is being fomented, and not by black people. They are being used by foreign interests among us. The way we address killing is by arrest and prosecution, all of which are being done to the bad cop who killed that man. What do protesters want, for him to be thrown to them to tear limb from limb? What would satisfy them?

    I want to know who is dropping off pallets of bricks in cities.

  • The original insurrection act of 1807 specifically says:

    An Act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States, in cases of insurrections. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress aassembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be law-ful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, **as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect**. APPROVED,March 3, 1807..

    Prerequisite requires Article 1, section 8, clause 15 (Congressional action).

    The amended (1956) insurrection act of 1807 says:
    The *President*, by using the militia or the armed forces, or both, or by any other means, shall take such measures as he considers necessary to suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy, if it—

    (1) so hinders the execution of the laws of that State, and of the United States within the State, that any part or class of its people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law, and the constituted authorities of that State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or

    (2) opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

    In any situation covered by clause (1), the State shall be considered to have denied the equal protection of the laws secured by the Constitution.
    ——

    Congress gave powers to the President that he did not previously Constitutionally have through an Act, not by Constitutional Amendment. This violates the delegated powers of the separate branches of Government. The supremacy clause even states that:

    This **Constitution**, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in **Persuance thereof**; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States; Shall be the Supreme Law of the Land; and the judges of every State shall be bound thereby; and any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding..
    ———
    If the laws, Federal or State contradict the Constitution, they are unlawful and they are unjust laws. All laws from Federal to State are bound to the Constitution FIRST. Therefore, by amending the Insurrection Act, and bypassing Congressional approval- Violates the Constitution.

    Just because Past Presidents set a precedence, it does not mean they are lawful or Constitutional precedence. By Congress giving powers to another branch, they Violate the Constitution, and the Act or set of Laws are null and void.

    This is why we have separate branches of Government.

    If Congress does not act, States must act. If Governors do not act, Sheriffs must act. If Sheriffs do not act, the people must defend their lives, liberties, and properties from unlawful and criminal actions.

    Its plain text. It doesn’t require one to be a rocket scientist or a historical scholar. Technology is easy to access, and searches come up fairly quickly.

    • True enough, as noted in the piece, the onus is on the states and local authorities to act. But the meaning of Article 4, Sec. 4 of the Constitution is plain: “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened), against domestic Violence.”

      This is what empowers any president to get involved in the event of an insurrection. The right to a “republican,” that is, non-dictatorial or non-monarchical form of government, is endangered if rule of law disappears; the same is true in the event of a violent insurrection that endangers the guarantee of a republican form of government. That was the point of the editorial, nothing more. And no, the Constitution does not require individuals to take up arms, although that might be necessary if elected officials refuse to live up to their constitutional duties or, worse, openly aid and abet those who would destroy our form of government.

  • Let’s call this what it really is-“Coup d’état.” The same thing that happened in Santo Domingo in 1965. Johnson ordered(Democrat)the Marines to go in and secure the area!! How do I know,because I was one of those Marines that participated(3 Battalion /6 Marines)off the USS Boxer!! I don’t recall any of the DemonRats complaning then??

  • “…And He Should, If States, Cities Fail To Do The Job” well…we’re on day 9…when will we finally decide that they aren’t doing the job? LOL! Once these municipalities are completely reduced to rubble? Stop drawing lines in the sand and end this domestic terrorism.

  • [print-me target="#post-%ID%"]

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Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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