Scholar Explains Insurrection Act

Some GOP lawmakers and civil groups say Trump should invoke the 1807 Insurrection Act.

The law permits the president to send in the military to suppress a domestic rebellion if the insurrection has made “it impracticable to enforce the laws of the U.S. by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings.”

The Act is different from martial law, where some civil liberties under the constitution may be suspended.

A law professor previously explained that the insurrection act is meant to enforce the law, not replace it.

Author of The Constitution Study, Paul Engel, explains more about the Act.

“This is not martial law. This is how does the federal government assist states that are having issues with insurrection, domestic violence, inability to enact their own to enforce their own laws, or situations where, because of what’s going on inside a state, the federal government cannot enforce their own laws, whether that be an insurrection or other disturbance,” said Engel.

President Trump considered invoking the Act following unrest after George Floyd’s death which saw riots around federal buildings.

But Engel says in the case of this election, the states are violating their own constitutions if they did things like changing voting laws right before the election or encouraging illegal votes.

“We are dealing with a lot of turmoil. But I don’t know of any act in any state that is making it impractical to enforce the laws of the United States. They aren’t enforcing their own laws. But the Insurrection Act has to do with enforcing laws of the United States, not of the states individually,” said Engel.

He says instead, much of the power to deal with potential fraud lies in the hands of citizens in each state.

“As I said, it’s not up to Congress. And it’s not up to the federal government to get these states to fix their problems. It’s ultimately up to the people of those states,” said Engel.