Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Not military justice, but . . .

The White House
Washington, DC
Kudos to Richard Altieri and Margaret Taylor for their timely Lawfare essay, How Presidents Talk About Deploying the Military in the United States. They conclude:
Trump, by contrast [to Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and George H.W. Bush], has adopted the language of battle. And he has not seemed at all concerned with fundamental constitutional notions of federalism and the rights reserved to states under the U.S. Constitution. Of course, Trump has not taken the final step of deploying the military to the states. But by deploying them cavalierly and in huge numbers in Washington, D.C.—without articulating what authorities he was using and over the objection of local officials—he showed that he is not particularly reticent about taking such a step. Trump’s approach, of course, is consistent with two central themes of his presidency. In moments of division, he peddles conspiracy theories and lashes out against his political opponents. And when it suits him, he pushes aggressively on the outer margins of his presidential authority with little regard for the precedent it sets.

1 comment:

  1. Americans may remember or know of the desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas which essentially began with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. A little history is here at

    Things did not go well in Little Rock. There was dissent from both sides of the struggle to integrate schools. The Arkansas governor took steps to prevent the integration. Ultimately, in response Pres. Eisenhower nationalised the Arkansas Nation Guard to prevent them supporting Governor Fabus blocking black students going to school. And he ordered the 101st Airborne at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, to deploy for security and to enforce the court order. Eisenhower was clear, absolutely clear, that the reason for calling in federal troops was to enforce the court order and the legitimacy of the federal courts--and the then law of the land. He publicly eschewed federal troops being there for crowd control, policing, or otherwise to maintain order in a situation where it was considered the State of Arkansas had lost control. His limited use of federal troops to enforce a court order and the manner in which he publicly addressed the cause and response was measured and by all accounts well considered. That allowed him to proceed with sufficient legitimacy that the general public, mostly, was accepting of this limited use of federal troops.

    A common meme is that history is doomed to repeat itself. The period of desegregation in some ways mimics what we are seeing today. Eisenhower's specific example in Little Rock is one where history should inform in a positive way.


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