“What is the Insurrection Act of 1807 that Trump threatened to invoke?”
June 3, 2020 | 9:11am
Presidents Thomas Jefferson (left) and George H.W. Bush
Addressing the riots that began last week after the death of George Floyd while in custody of Minneapolis police, Trump called for governors to stop the looting and arson that has spread across the country.
“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,” the president said during an announcement Monday evening in the Rose Garden.
The Insurrection Act of 1807 was approved during Thomas Jefferson’s administration, but it has been amended since then.
The original text says in cases of “insurrection, or obstruction to the laws” the president “where it is lawful” can “call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed.”
But according to US code, the president before invoking the act must first order the “insurgents to disperse within a limited time.”
The US code also notes that the president may take the action “upon the request of [the state] legislature or its governor if the legislature cannot be convened.”
The Insurrection Act has been amended several times and invoked during Reconstruction and during the Civil Rights Era to protect African-Americans.
President John F. Kennedy invoked it twice – once in 1962 and again in 1963 to send National Guard troops to Alabama to enforce the desegregation of public schools.
The law was also amended after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 to include natural disasters, health emergencies and terrorist attacks.
President George W. Bush weighed invoking it but decided against it because of political concerns.
His father, President H.W. Bush used it twice – one to put down riots in St. Croix following Hurricane Hugo in 1989 and again in 1992 in response to the riots in Los Angeles.
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