by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
In the Rose Garden, … President Trump threatened to deploy the U.S. military to restore order in the American cities if mayors and governors fail to do it.
In his brief speech, Trump said the appropriate things about the George Floyd case (he called it a “brutal death”) and about the legal process underway in Minneapolis (“justice will be served”). He was also right about the biggest victims of disorder being people living in poor communities, about the mix of Antifa and looters causing the mayhem, and the need to act vigorously to stop it.
The president pretty clearly has the authority to send in the military under the Insurrection Act. It is widely believed that the Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of federal troops for domestic law enforcement, but this isn’t true — it prohibits such use only when there isn’t statutory authorization. …
… That said, it’s hard to see how Trump could, as a practical matter, invoke the Insurrection Act over the objections of state and local officials. Having hostile and competing authorities trying to police the same out-of-control streets is not a formula for success. The main utility of talking of the Insurrection Act may be in prodding states to be more forceful in their response.
Minnesota called out the National Guard, and Minneapolis, the first city to get hit by these disturbances, has been relatively calm for three straight nights. New York has avoided calling the Guard, and New York City was a shameful festival of rioting and looting Monday night. Cities need to impose early curfews, vigorously enforce them, and call out the National Guard if they have any doubt that the police can’t do the job on their own.