Last updated on September 28th, 2018
What is Martial Law?
In strict dictionary terms, martial law is the suspension of civil authority and the imposition of military authority. They act as the police, as the courts, as the legislature.
Martial law can be used by governments to enforce their rule over the public.
Martial law could potentially be implemented and enforced under any of the following example conditions:
– After a coup d’état.
– In a time of war (e.g. foreign invasion).
– When government is threatened by popular protest or political opposition.
– To stabilize insurrections or perceived insurrections.
– In a time triggered by an event or events when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively and have broken down in maintaining order and security, or in providing essential services.
– When there are extensive riots.
– When disobedience of the law becomes widespread.
Note: Martial law should not be confused with military justice. In the United States, each branch of the military has its own judicial structures in place. Members of the service are under the control of military law. But this is the normal course of business in the military. Martial law is the exception to the rule.
Article 1, Section 9 of The Constitution states, “The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.“
Note: Habeas corpus is a concept of law, in which a person may not be held by the government without a valid reason for being held.
Note: A writ (a formal written order) of habeas corpus can be issued by a court upon a government agency (such as a police force or the military). Such a writ compels the agency to produce the individual to the court, and to convince the court that the person is being reasonably held.
The suspension of habeas corpus allows an agency to hold a person without a charge. Suspension of habeas corpus is often equated with martial law.
Who Can Declare Martial Law?
It is often argued that only Congress can declare martial law, because Congress alone is granted the power to suspend the writ. The President, however, is commander-in-chief of the military, and it has been argued that the President can take it upon himself to declare martial law.
So, what’s the answer? Who can declare or impose martial law?
The President (the military as commander-in-chief) or Congress.
What Happens Under Martial Law?
– U.S. Constitution would be suspended.
– Suspension of habeas corpus.
– Suspension of civil rights.
– Suspension of civil law.
– No freedom of the press.
– No freedom of assembly.
– No freedom of speech.
– Curfews enforced on the people.
– Troops in the streets for enforcement.
– Checkpoints would be set up for control.
– Ability to hold a person without charge.
– Potential arrest of anyone who is a ‘suspect’.
– Imprisonment without representation or due process.
– Potential house to house confiscation of firearms, ammunition, food supplies.
– Typically, martial law accompanies curfews.
– The application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal (court-martial).
In United States law, martial law is limited by several court decisions that were handed down between the American Civil War and World War II. In 1878, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids military involvement in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval.
Martial Law under the NDAA
However, there are provisions in the current NDAA…
Several American lawmakers have stated on the record that, in their opinion, Section 1031 of the National Defense Authorization Act legalizes or authorizes martial law in the United States.
Senator Mark Udall had stated “These provisions raise serious questions as to who we are as a society and what our Constitution seeks to protect…Section 1031 essentially repeals the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 by authorizing the U.S. military to perform law enforcement functions on American soil.”
In other words, the military could arrest any American citizen suspected of being a domestic terrorist and throw them into a military prison indefinitely under the NDAA.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a sweeping defense policy bill which includes a number of troubling provisions.
It apparently permits the military to detain individuals indefinitely without trial.
Could Martial Law Happen Here?
Yes, it certainly could. It just needs a trigger event. Once that event or events occur, they could in theory round up just about anyone they wish. No probable-cause necessary.
Do you think they have lists of people ready for this?
Yes, I would think that they do.