Facts about the insurrection Act
Democrats, the political left and much of the media (but I repeat myself) have proffered a grand narrative that the Election of President Trump to a second term will be the collapse of the America Republic and the commencement of a prolonged Trump dictatorship. They reinforce that narrative with a number of anti-Democratic actions Trump will take. Their hypothetical litany of authoritarian acts has no foundation in fact. Rather it is a compilation of imaginative speculations – many of which are too ridiculous to take seriously.
Among the litany is their prediction that Trump will use the Insurrection Act to send the federal military to quell those iconic urban riots and political violence that too often appear in the nation’s major cities.
Using the armed services to deal with domestic violence sounds scary. Perhaps not so much if one reviews the use of the Insurrection Act in the past – and the use of federal troops.
The first President, George Washington, was the first to send federal troops to deal with domestic unrest. He sent soldiers to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion by Pennsylvania farmers in 1794.
In 1799, President John Adams invoked the Act in anticipation of a war with France. The war never happened.
President Jefferson used the Insurrection Act to foil a plot by his former Vice President Aaron Burr to raise an army and establish an independent territory in the southwest.
President Lincoln used the Insurrection Act at the onset of the Civil War. Well duh! That was a real insurrection.
In more modern times, several Presidents invoked the Insurrection Act to restore order or to defend constitutional rights.
President Kennedy invoked the Act twice – in 1962 and 1963 to Mississippi and Alabama respectively to enforce civil rights laws.
In 1957, President Eisenhower used the Insurrection Act to send federal troops to Little Rock, Arkansas to protect nine black children entering an all-white high school for the first time. The event was surrounded by threats of violence and acts of violence.
In 1967, President Johnson used the Insurrection Act to send federal troops to Detroit, Michigan to restore order in a riot that had taken 43 lives and injured thousands. He also deployed 13,000 soldiers in Washington, D.C. and 5,000 in Chicago to quell riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King.
In 1992, President George H. W. Bush invoked the Act to send federal troops into Los Angeles to quell the rioting following the beating of Rodney King by four police officers.
In and of itself, the Insurrection Act is not despotic. One can speculate without evidence how and when Trump might invoke it but to imply or suggest that his statement about using the Insurrection Act to quell domestic disruption or enforce federal laws is some unique and dangerous authoritarian act is simply not the case.
So, there ‘tis.