What is the Insurrection Act and why is it trending online?

National

(NEXSTAR) – The Insurrection Act is trending on Twitter and Google search following last week’s riot at the U.S. Capitol. The act allows the president to deploy federal troops or the federalized National Guard on U.S. soil in specific instances.

While President Donald Trump threatened to use it this summer against Black Lives Matter protests in Washington, D.C., the act was last invoked in 1992 to quell the Los Angeles riots.

The act was amended in 2006 to expand the instances in which the president may invoke the law beyond insurrection after the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina a year earlier was criticized, according to NPR. The change authorizes “the President to employ the armed forces during a natural disaster or terrorist attack.”

The Insurrection Act has not been floated as a way to stop protesters during the 2021 presidential inauguration.

Google searches for ‘Insurrection Act’ from January 4-11. Data source: Google Trends (https://www.google.com/trends)

District of Columbia Mayor Muriel Bowser is, however, seeking increased security around President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration in the wake of the mob insurrection at the Capitol.

“We believe strongly that the 59th Presidential Inauguration on January 20 will require a very different approach than previous inaugurations given the chaos, injury, and death experienced at the United States Capitol during the insurrection,” Bowser wrote in a letter to Chad Wolf, the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

She asked for a “pre-disaster declaration” for the District to allow for federal assistance.

Bowser cited “new threats from insurgent acts of domestic terrorists” and asked that the security period around the inauguration be extended from Monday through Jan. 24 and that the Capitol be included in the perimeter. She is urging that any applications for demonstrations be denied during that period.

Washington, D.C., does not have jurisdiction over the Capitol and other federal property within its borders.

The original text of the Insurrection Act of 1807 says:

An Act authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces of the United States, in cases of insurrections

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That in all cases of insurrection, or obstruction to the laws, either of the United States, or of any individual state or territory, where it is lawful for the President of the United States to call forth the militia for the purpose of suppressing such insurrection, or of causing the laws to be duly executed, it shall be lawful for him to employ, for the same purposes, such part of the land or naval force of the United States, as shall be judged necessary, having first observed all the pre-requisites of the law in that respect.

APPROVED, March 3, 1807.

In her letter to Wolf, Bowser asked for coordination with the Defense and Justice departments, Congress and the Supreme Court to develop a security plan for all federal properties. “Consistent with established protocols and practices, it is the primary responsibility of the federal government to secure federal property in these situations,” she wrote.

Doing so, she said, will enable the Metropolitan Police Department “to focus on its local mission.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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