What Is The Insurrection Act of 1807?

Monday night, President Donald Trump warned mayors and governors that if they couldn’t control the riots and protests in their communities, he would take care of it with the United States military.

To do so, he would have to invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807.

“When people talk about martial law, they are usually talking about the Insurrection Act,” says Brigadier General Michael McDaniel, assistant dean at Cooley Law School.Riot Pic

Protests have turned to riots across the country for multiple nights. The National Guard has been called in to several cities, but President Trump says that may not be enough. He says it’s time for the military.

“The federal government shall protect the states against invasion or against domestic unrest,” McDaniel explained.

McDaniel has a specialty in Homeland Security Strategy. He says the Insurrection Act is used for three reasons
: by request of a governor, to enforce federal laws, and to uphold the 14th Amendment.

“Seems to give the federal government  authority of broad power to assist states if there is some sort of civil unrest or rebellion uprising of some sort,” McDaniel says.

The Act has not been used nationally since 1992, but has frequently been utilized throughout history.

“It’s happened twice that I can think of in Michigan,” McDaniel says. “They were both race riots in Detroit in 1943 and 1967.”

Much like when a governor summons the National Guard, the President would then bring in the military to restore order and quell uprisings. It’s been an effective tool in the past, but one McDaniel warns does not come with nuance.

“For a number of reasons, the use of the federal military troops should be very limited and it should be used as sort of a last resort,” McDaniel says. “We have a strong public policy, from the beginning of this country, against using the military within the United States.”