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The president’s constitutional power to restore order

Andrew McCarthy of National Review Online urges President Trump to take constitutional steps that restore order nationwide.

Law enforcement is a vital response to any riotous uprising. Indeed, I believe the failure to enforce the laws without apology from the start of the upheaval last week has fueled its ferocity. It would be naïve to claim that much of the violence, which is being incited and coordinated by radical groups, might not have happened anyway — these groups are always on a hair-trigger, pouncing on any opportunity to make mayhem. But how badly things get out of control has a lot to do with the resolve of state and federal law enforcement. The laws do not enforce themselves.

Progressive dogma notwithstanding, rioting spearheaded by radicals and anarchists does not exhaust itself if governments just give them time and space to get their yah-yahs out. Passivity, conveying the message that the laws will not be enforced, is provocative. It increases the appetite for rioting, which is only sated once the sociopaths have run out of things to burn and loot.

That said, law enforcement on its own is inadequate to restore order once order has been lost. Police and prosecutorial offices simply do not have the resources to quell widespread seditionist violence. Consequently, other provisions of law must be considered.

Under Article IV of the Constitution, the United States guarantees every state a republican form of government, protection against invasion, and — on request of the state government — protection from domestic violence. In furtherance of this provision, Congress enacted legislation, most notably, the Insurrection Act of 1807, which empowers the president “to suppress, in any State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy.” Obviously, suppressing such attacks requires deploying the United States armed forces as needed. …

… What has happened over the last few nights in major cities of the United States is unacceptable.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...