Does the president have the legal authority to use military force in Minneapolis?

Yes, he does, and he doesn’t have to wait for the Governor of Minnesota to make a formal request for federal help. Beginning in 1792, the Congress enacted five specific laws authorizing the president to use military force within the United States: (1) the first Militia Act of 1792, (2) the Militia Act of 1795, (3) the Insurrection Act of 1807, (4) the Suppression of Rebellion Act of 1861, and (5) the Enforcement Act of 1871. Combined, this remarkable body of law pre-authorizes the president to commit acts of domestic constitutional violence under certain conditions.

As it happens, several scholars have studied the content and historical context of these laws. For an in-depth history of this body of “domestic violence” law, the best place to start is Robert W. Coakley’s beautiful 1988 book “The Role of Federal Military Forces.” Another helpful source is Stephen Vladeck’s excellent 2004 law review article on “Emergency Powers and the Militia Acts,” which was published in Volume 114 of the Yale Law Journal. Lastly, I can also recommend Dominic J. Campisi’s 1975 law review article on “The Civil Disturbance Regulations: Threats Old and New,” which was published in Volume 50 of the Indiana Law Journal.

But wait; there’s more! In addition to these scholarly sources, yours truly also explored this dangerous body of law in my 2019 paper “Domestic Constitutional Violence,” which was published in Volume 41 of the University of Arkansas Law Review. (My paper is available free of charge here, via SSRN.) As a public service, I will further delve into the details of each of these laws in my next few blogs posts.

CNN Reporter Omar Jimenez Arrested in Minneapolis Live On Air

About F. E. Guerra-Pujol

When I’m not blogging, I am a business law professor at the University of Central Florida.
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4 Responses to Does the president have the legal authority to use military force in Minneapolis?

  1. Just read your paper, interesting stuff. I am assuming that the 1807 Insurrection Act is the legal justification for state intervene in instances of state succession.

    Over the past couple of years I have seen more arguments in defense of state succession.


    It would appear that these few rogue advocates may not have past legal precedence on their side of the argument.

    I apologize for veering too far from the subject at hand. My curiosity got the better of me.

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