Trump Loyalists Harboring Martial Law Fantasies Don’t Know Their History

Historians in the News
tags: civil rights, Police, authoritarianism, martial law

Some of President Trump’s most rabid loyalists are calling for him to declare martial law so he won’t have to cede power to President-elect Joe Biden next month — though his White House aides have rejected that idea as a way to overturn the election.

Last week, Trump’s disgraced former national security adviser, the newly pardoned Michael Flynn, suggested on the right-wing channel Newsmax that the military could be used to rerun the election in four swing states that Trump lost. “People out there talk about martial law like it’s something that we’ve never done,” Flynn said. “Martial law has been instituted 64 times.”

At least 68 times, actually, though never under the circumstances Flynn has argued for on Newsmax and in the Oval Office.

The Brennan Center for Justice recently catalogued each time martial law — the temporary military takeover of civil functions like law enforcement and courts — has been invoked in U.S. history.

The broadest and perhaps best-known instance is Congress putting all the former Confederate states (except for Tennessee) under martial law during Reconstruction. From 1867 to 1870, radical Republicans controlling Congress imposed a list of requirements on these states for them to be readmitted into the Union, including passing a new state constitution guaranteeing universal male suffrage and ratifying the 14th Amendment.

Interestingly, the only two presidents to ever declare martial law are the two for which Trump has most often expressed admiration: Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln. Granted, Jackson wasn’t president at the time he did so; he was a general fighting the British in the War of 1812. As British troops approached Louisiana in December 1814, Jackson declared martial law in New Orleans to compel all available men — militias, frontiersmen, pirates and the enslaved — to repel the British. Their victory made him a national hero.


Read entire article at Washington Post

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