By TINA NGUYEN, Politico
An 1807 law invoked only in the most violent circumstances is now a rallying cry for the MAGA-ites most committed to the fantasy that Donald Trump will never leave office.
The law, the Insurrection Act, allows the president to deploy troops to suppress domestic uprisings — not to overturn elections.
But that hasn’t stopped the act from becoming a buzzword and cure-all for prominent MAGA figures like Sydney Powell and Lin Wood, two prominent pro-Trump attorneys leading efforts to overturn the 2020 election, and even one North Carolina state lawmaker. Others like Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser who was recently pardoned for lying to the FBI, have made adjacent calls for Trump to impose martial law. The ideas have circulated in pro-Trump outlets and were being discussed over the weekend among the thousands of MAGA protesters who descended on state capitols and the Supreme Court to falsely claim Trump had won the election.
At its core, the Insurrection Act gives the president authority to send military and National Guard troops to quell local rebellions and violence, offering an exemption to prohibitions against using military personnel to enforce domestic laws. Historically, it has been used in moments of extreme national strife — the Civil War, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, violent labor disputes, desegregation battles, rioting following Martin Luther King Jr.’s death.
Only once, however, has it been used in the wake of an election — and that was to stop a literal militia from seizing the Louisiana government on behalf of John McEnery, a former Confederate officer who had lost the 1872 governor’s race.
Nonetheless, in the minds of some authoritarian-leaning and conspiracy-minded Trump supporters, the Insurrection Act has become a needed step to prevent President-elect Joe Biden from assuming the presidency. Their evidence-deficient reasoning: Democrats illegally rigged the election and are attempting a coup, and Trump must send in the troops to undo this conspiracy.