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USA and Martial Law The History and What To Expect
User ID: 1509249
08/21/2011 08:22 AM
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Martial law is the imposition of military rule by military authorities over designated regions on an emergency basis—usually only temporary—when the civilian government or civilian authorities fail to function effectively (e.g., maintain order and security, and provide essential services), when there are extensive riots and protests, or when the disobedience of the law becomes widespread. In most cases, military forces are deployed to quiet the crowds, to secure government buildings and key or sensitive locations, and to maintain order.
Generally, military personnel replace civil authorities and perform some or all of their functions. The constitution could be suspended, and in full-scale martial law, the highest-ranking military officer would take over, or be installed, as the military governor or as head of the government, thus removing all power from the previous executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government
Typically, the imposition of martial law accompanies curfews, the suspension of civil law, civil rights, habeas corpus, and the application or extension of military law or military justice to civilians. Civilians defying martial law may be subjected to military tribunal (court-martial).
Ex parte Milligan
On September 15, 1863, President Lincoln imposed Congressionally authorized martial law. The authorizing act allowed the President to suspend habeas corpus throughout the entire United States (which he had already done under his own authority on April 27, 1861). Lincoln imposed the suspension on "prisoners of war, spies, or aiders and abettors of the enemy," as well as on other classes of people, such as draft dodgers. The President's proclamation was challenged in Ex parte Milligan, 71 US 2 ). The Supreme Court ruled that Lincoln's imposition of martial law (by way of suspension of habeas corpus) was unconstitutional in areas where the local courts were still in session.
 New Orleans, Louisiana in the War of 1812
During the War of 1812, U.S. General Andrew Jackson imposed martial law in New Orleans, Louisiana before repulsing the British in the Battle of New Orleans.
 The Great Chicago Fire
In response to the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago mayor Roswell B. Mason declared a state of martial law and placed General Philip Sheridan in charge of the city on October 9, 1871. After the fire was extinguished, there were no widespread disturbances and martial law was lifted within a few days.
 The American Revolution
As a result of the Boston Tea Party, Parliament passed the Massachusetts Government Act, one of the Intolerable Acts, which suppressed town meetings and assemblies, and imposed appointed government, tantamount to martial law.
 The West Virginia Mine War
During the events of the West Virginia Mine War, martial law was declared on the state of West Virginia. At the behest of Governor Cornwell, federal troops had been dispatched to Mingo County to deal with the striking miners. The army officer in charge removed the constitution (selectively; accounts show that he only jailed Union miners), and did not allow assembly of any kind. If his soldiers found any miners, they immediately took them and imprisoned them. The jails filled up so quickly that he had to release miners. As it went, miners were arrested, jailed, and released without any sort of trial. After a time, when the trial of Sid Hatfield began; the military occupation and "veritable military dictatorship" (Governor Cornwell) of the army officer ended. Many of the miners were not released from jail. It was only the first of three times that federal troops would be called to quiet the miners in the West Virginia Mine War.
 The Territory of Hawaii
During World War II (1939 to 1945) what is now the State of Hawaii was held under martial law from December 7, 1941 to October 24, 1944.
 Freedom Riders
On May 21, 1961, Governor Patterson of Montgomery, AL declared martial law. Freedom Riders
 Hurricane Katrina
Contrary to many media reports at the time, martial law was not declared in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, because no such term exists in Louisiana state law. However, a State of Emergency was declared, which does give unique powers to the state government similar to those of martial law. On the evening of August 31, 2005, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin nominally declared "martial law" and said that officers didn't have to observe civil rights and Miranda rights in stopping the looters. Federal troops were a common sight in New Orleans after Katrina. At one point, as many as 15,000 federal troops and National Guardsmen patrolled the city. Additionally it has been reported that armed contractors from Blackwater USA assisted in policing the city.
[link to en.wikipedia.org]
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