No, Trump Cannot Declare an ‘Emergency’ to Build His WallRoundup
tags: immigration, Trump, wall
Mr. Ackerman is a professor of law at Yale and author of “The Decline and Fall of the American Republic.”
President Trump on Friday said that he was considering the declaration of a “national emergency” along the border with Mexico, which he apparently believes would allow him to divert funds from the military budget to pay for a wall, and to use military personnel to build it.
While it is hard to know exactly what the president has in mind, or whether he has any conception about what it would entail, one thing is clear: Not only would such an action be illegal, but if members of the armed forces obeyed his command, they would be committing a federal crime.
Begin with the basics. From the founding onward, the American constitutional tradition has profoundly opposed the president’s use of the military to enforce domestic law. A key provision, rooted in an 1878 statute and added to the law in 1956, declares that whoever “willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force” to execute a law domestically “shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years” — except when “expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.”
Another provision, grounded in a statute from 1807 and added to the law in 1981, requires the secretary of defense to “ensure that any activity (including the provision of any equipment or facility or the assignment or detail of any personnel)” must “not include or permit direct participation by a member of the Army, Navy, Air Force, or Marine Corps in a search, seizure, arrest, or other similar activity unless participation in such activity by such member is otherwise authorized by law.”
In response to the Hurricane Katrina disaster in New Orleans, Congress created an express exception to the rules, and authorized the military to play a backup role in “major public emergencies.” But in 2008 Congress and President Bush repealed this sweeping exception. Is President Trump aware of this express repudiation of the power which he is threatening to invoke?
comments powered by Disqus
- Would DC Statehood Also Give the Trumps Three Electoral Votes?
- US Holocaust Survivor Who Spent Decades Fighting For Family’s Looted Art Dies
- Robert E. Lee’s Name Is Still All Over Arlington, But That Could Be Changing
- The Woman Who Paved the Way
- There’s Nothing New About Federal Meddling In Protest Movements
- Thousands of Women Fought Against the Right to Vote. Their Reasons Still Resonate Today
- After Falwell Stumbles, His Hometown Sees a Leader in Need of Redemption
- White Author Reflects On Finding, Bringing Together Descendants Of Enslaved People In His Family (Audio)
- A Milestone for Palestinian Studies
- Paul Seaver, Leading Historian of Early Modern England, Dies at 88