11 January 2021 18:31
US President Donald Trump's aide Roger Stone, a convicted felon, had last year suggested that the commander-in-chief should enforce martial law to seize power in case he loses the presidential election. Ahead of the certification of Electoral College and President-elect Joe Biden's victory, elected officials of District of Columbia were reportedly analysing the risk of similar threat. According to a Buzzfeed report, the DC Attorney General's office shared a memo with the 13-member City Council during a closed briefing last week. The memo was focussed on US president's capability to take control of the city's Metropolitan Police Department by invoking 214-year-old law - Insurrection Act of 1807. What is the Insurrection Act of 1807?
According to The Washington Post, the Insurrection Act was framed during the era of Thomas Jefferson, one of the founding fathers and third president of the United States, to prevent a suspected rebellion by his former deputy Aaron Burr. Since then, the law has undergone several amendments and it now empowers the president to send military forces to quell unrest and support civil law enforcement. Under normal circumstances, governors of states are responsible to maintain law and order within state boundaries. A law called the Posse Comitatus Act restricts the use of the military in domestic law enforcement and the Insurrection Act provides a "statutory exception" to those limitations. This means the Insurrection Act empowers the president to deploy US Armed Forces and National Guard, at the request of a state government, to suppress an insurrection or "domestic violence". Also Read | Who were they? Records reveal Trump fans who stormed Capitol However, the president must first issue a proclamation ordering the insurgents to disperse within a limited time, according to a Congressional Research Service report published in 2006. It says that the president may issue an executive order to send in troops if the situation does not resolve itself. The Insurrection Act has been invoked a number of times in the history of the United States to quell civil disturbances. The Act was most recently during the 1992 Los Angeles riots and during Hurricane Hugo in 1989 when widespread looting was reported in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.