How the President Could Invoke Martial Law

Throughout 2020, America has faced a global pandemic, civil unrest after the death of George Floyd and a contentious election. As a result, an influx of fear about the possibility of the invocation of martial law or unchecked military intervention is circulating around the internet among scholars and civilians alike.

RELATED ARTICLE: Is the US Under a De Facto State of Martial Law?

Federal and state officials have declared martial law at least 68 times, during the course of American history, according to Joseph Nunn, an expert with the Brennan Center for Justice.

“The fear is certainly understandable, because as I’m sure you know, martial law isn’t described or confined or limited, proscribed in any way by the Constitution or laws,” Bill Banks, a Syracuse professor with an expertise in constitutional and national security law, told Military Times. “If someone has declared martial law, they’re essentially saying that they are the law.”

Martial law may be declared by both the president and by Congress. State officials may also declare martial law, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, however, “their actions under the declaration must abide by the U.S. Constitution and are subject to review in federal court.”

Martial law can be imposed when civil rule fails, temporarily being replaced with military authority in a time of crisis. Though rare, there have been a number of notable U.S. cases where martial law came into play, including in times of war, natural disaster and civic dispute — of which there has been no shortage in 2020.


1 thought on “How the President Could Invoke Martial Law

  1. Greetings,

    Thank you for the well written and informative article.

    It seems to me, that given the polarization of society today, the probability is rather high it will not matter if Trump remains, or if the other political party is able to place another political puppet back into the White house, there will be rioting unlike humans have witnessed since we started occupying physical bodies on this planet.

    If so, then Marshall Law may be the only means by which law enforcement will be able to even try to restore order.
    It also seems to me that there is a naturally occurring change which is causing so much polarization leading to massive chaos and uncertainty;

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