As nation reels, Trump’s focus is strength, not unity

(Christian Science Monitor | June 3, 2020) William Banks, a professor emeritus of law at Syracuse University, says Mr. Trump has the right to invoke the law, but notes that it was envisioned for a much larger threat than what we’re seeing now.

“You want to come to the aid of the states when states can’t take care of themselves,” he says.

By threatening to invoke the act, Mr. Trump is trying not to appear weak during a domestic crisis, says Professor Banks. But at the same time, he adds, past uses of the law have been unpopular, and governors in crisis-ridden states today might welcome having Mr. Trump seize the spotlight – and take on any blame …

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Trump wants to crush Black Lives Matter with a law that fought segregation

(The Washington Post | June 2, 2020) Not satisfied by tear gas, rubber bullets and threats to use “vicious dogs” and “ominous weapons” against citizens protesting racism and police violence, President Trump threatened Monday night to send the U.S. military into any cities where local officials fail to control crowds of unruly protesters. His secretary of defense, Mark T. Esper, obligingly chimed in on the need for troops to “dominate the battlespace” in American cities.

Trump appears to be planning to invoke the Insurrection Act, which would turn his administration’s dystopian fantasy of urban combat against U.S. citizens into a reality …

… In 1957, when nine black students attempted to enter an all-white school in Little Rock pursuant to a federal court order, then-Gov. Orville Faubus sent troops from the Arkansas National Guard to block them.

With state troops under the command of a governor openly defying an order of the federal courts, writes legal historian William Banks, President Dwight D. Eisenhower scribbled his thoughts in a handwritten note: Standing by “in the face of organized or locally undeterred opposition by violence” would, he feared, cause “the entire court system [to] disintegrate” and lead to “the destruction of our form of gov’t.”

Reluctantly, he invoked the Insurrection Act the next day, and soldiers from the Army’s 101st Airborne Division formed a protective cordon to allow the nine black students to walk safely to class …

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Here’s What You Need to Know About The Pentagon’s Riot Response and Martial Law

( | June 2, 2020) The Pentagon has ordered a small contingent of active-duty soldiers to alert status, on standby to join thousands of National Guard troops to help police quell civil unrest amid protest demonstrations across America. But the unprecedented situation is still a long way from martial law, legal experts say …

… Martial law is an “extraordinary state of being, and it basically means the government isn’t in control at all; there is no law. Martial law is the power of a commander,” Banks said.

“The last time the law was declared in the United states was in Hawaii during World War II,” he said, describing the military’s response after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, which resulted in Japanese Americans being put in internment camps.

In fact, Banks said, there is no longer a “publicly known procedure” for the enactment of martial law.

“Years ago, there were some regulations within the [Defense Department] that spoke to the possibility of martial law, but they have been taken off the books,” he said. “We can’t see them, so we don’t even know if they exist anymore” …

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