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Could a second term President Donald Trump legally use military forces to conduct domestic law enforcement activities? The simple answer to the question is “yes.”
Beginning with George Washington, more than a dozen presidents have deployed troops more than two dozen times for law enforcement purposes. The most relevant federal law is the Insurrection Act.
In 1827, the Supreme Court concluded that an earlier version of the law gave the president the exclusive authority “to decide whether [an exigency requiring the militia to be called out] has arisen, and… his decision is conclusive upon all other persons.” Later versions of the law have not restricted the president’s power to decide whether an emergency exists.