By Douglas V. Gibbs
Author, Speaker, Instructor, Radio Host

General Jim Mattis, United States Marine Corps Retired, used to be a part of Trump’s team.  Trump fired him (well, he asked Mattis to resign, and Mattis complied), and now General Mattis has become critical of Trump’s presidency.  One thing Mattis zeroed in on was Trump’s consideration of using the Insurrection Act to quell the violence we are seeing in our cities by rioters claiming they are simply social justice warriors protesting the death of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer, Derek Chauvin. 

Mattis, in his attack, wrote: “When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution.  Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens.”

Anti-Trumper and less-than-a-conservative Republican Senator Mitt Romney has praised General Mattis for his criticisms of the president.  U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski has joined Romney in a liberals-in-the-GOP versus President Trump mutiny that has most members of the Republican Party angry.

While President Trump has a majority of Americans supporting his consideration of a use of the military to quell the riots, and we know that the Democrats and their leftist allies are chomping at the bit hoping Trump’s decision becomes a historical moment akin to Kent State in 1970 when 13 students were shot by the Ohio National Guard in what was later paraded by the media as being a “massacre”, the reality is that Trump is correct, the country needs law and order reestablished.

Mattis, however, didn’t take the law and order route, but instead said that the use of military personnel against civilian rioters is unconstitutional.  Folks in the media, also critical of President Trump’s consideration to use military personnel to quell the riots, have reminded us of the presence of Posse Comitatus, which is a law that was passed in 1878 (and amended in 1956, 1959, and 1994) in response to the Union’s invasion and occupation of The South which basically says that federal military personnel cannot be used against American civilians on American soil unless allowed by the Constitution or Congress.

What does the Constitution say?

Article IV., Section 4, reads, “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.”

The word “shall” means that it is not a recommendation.  The federal government is obligated to protect the States against domestic violence.  The legislature has already made the application towards such an action with the existence of the Insurrection Act (1807, amended in 1956, 2006, and 2016).  All President Trump has to do, as Commander in Chief, is say, “Make it so.”

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