Sen. Tom Cotton Calls For The U.S. Military to be Used Against Americans
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AK) called for the U.S. military to be used against Americans because of the looting that has taken place in some cities where criminals have exploited the peaceful marches of George Floyd protesters.
U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said today that he does not support invoking the Insurrection Act to deal with the unrest in U.S. cities.
In a New York Times op-ed, Cotton called for President Donald Trump to use the Insurrection Act of 1807 to use the U.S. military against citizens.
The Washington Post notes the Insurrection Act says: “Whenever there is an insurrection in any State against its government, the President may, upon the request of its legislature or of its governor if the legislature cannot be convened,” send in military troops.
Cotton tried to normalize using the U.S. military against Americans by writing “presidents have exercised this authority on dozens of occasions.”
The Washington Post notes most of those times were pre-Civil War and during Reconstruction, including an effort to stop black people from rebelling against slavery:
In 1831, President Andrew Jackson, at the request of the Norfolk mayor, deployed federal troops to quash Nat Turner’s slave rebellion in Virginia’s Southampton County — the largest such revolt in U.S. history.
Cotton claimed the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 allows for the U.S. military to be used against Americans, but Lawfare notes that may cause legal problems:
Both the courts and the executive branch have interpreted this posse comitatus restriction as applying where the military is used for the purposes of civilian law enforcement. It does not apply to activities pursued by the military for other valid purposes, even where those activities may resemble or incidentally benefit civilian law enforcement activities.
For example, military personnel may enforce laws, investigate crimes, and even arrest people who are in the military or on military bases without violating the posse comitatus restriction, because these activities are understood to be for military purposes.