[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – After President Trump threatened to deploy U.S. military troops to “dominate” demonstrators protesting police brutality, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), a member of the Senate Judiciary and Armed Services Committees, introduced legislation to restrict the President’s authority under the Insurrection Act. Blumenthal will be seeking to include this legislation in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act to ensure that the military is not weaponized by the President to suppress Americans’ free expression.
The CIVIL Act would reform the centuries-old Insurrection Act, which gives the President broad and vague authority to deploy troops – either with or without the request of a state – to suppress “any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” The current law has been used sparingly by other presidents given the potential for the military to escalate tensions, rather than restore order, during a domestic crisis.
“President Trump has threatened to use a slavery-era law to silence calls for justice from thousands of Americans protesting centuries of racist oppression,” said Blumenthal. “I support demonstrators’ demands for change and the constitutional rights of all Americans to seek it. President Trump’s threats to ‘dominate’ protestors with military might are a clear and present danger to our most fundamental constitutional rights. I’m proposing urgently necessary reforms to impose oversight and accountability to the President’s broad, virtually unrestricted power. If the President uses military force against Americans at home, Congress should demand at least the same checks that apply to his use of force against adversaries abroad.”
The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Edward J. Markey (D-MA).
The CIVIL Act would reform the Insurrection Act to restrict the President’s authority to use active duty troops for domestic law enforcement purposes by: