The Suspension Clause protects liberty by protecting the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It provides that the federal government may not suspend this privilege except in extraordinary circumstances: when a rebellion or invasion occurs and the public safety requires it.
As president trump continues to state we are “at war,” and mentions that we are dealing with a “public safety” issue, American’s are seemingly seeing their rights stripped one by one.
With the courage of our doctors and nurses, with the skill of our scientists and innovators, with the determination of the American People, and with the grace of God, WE WILL WIN THIS WAR. When we achieve this victory, we will emerge stronger and more united than ever before! pic.twitter.com/sFmxKzXdGC
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2020
With that said, many ask if president Donald Trump can suspend the constitution and many of its protections. Whether is be
- Forcing Americans to stay inside
- Jailing Americans for not complying
- Attempting to close gun stores and disarm Americans
- Stripping Americans of their ability to earn a living
Many are skeptical of the future and have taken to social media to voice their concerns.
Most recently Los Angeles sheriff attempted to violate American’s constitutional rights by closing all guns stores. A move which was promptly retracted.
Appreciating the significance of this restraint first requires understanding the writ of habeas corpus. This writ, which Americans imported into the Constitution from English common law, is a means by which a prisoner can test the legality of her detention. A person who believes she is being imprisoned illegally can file a petition asking a judge to issue a writ of habeas corpus. When a prisoner files a petition for a writ of habeas corpus, her custodian must explain why the restraint is lawful. If the explanation does not satisfy the court, it will order the custodian to release her. The writ is thus a crucial means by which a prisoner can obtain freedom.
Martial law in the United States refers to several periods in United States history where in a region or the United States as a whole were placed under the control of a military body. On a federal level, only the president has the power to impose martial law. In each state, the governor has the right to impose martial law within the borders of the state. In the United States, martial law has been used in a limited number of circumstances, such as New Orleans during the Battle of New Orleans; after major disasters, such as the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 or the San Francisco earthquake of 1906 or during riots, such as the Omaha race riot of 1919 or the 1920 Lexington riots; local leaders declared martial law to protect themselves from mob violence, such as Nauvoo, Illinois, during the Illinois Mormon War, or Utah during the Utah War; or in response to chaos associated with protests and rioting, such as the 1934 West Coast waterfront strike, in Hawaii after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and during the Civil Rights Movement in response to the Cambridge riot of 1963.
The martial law concept in the United States is closely tied with the right of habeas corpus, which is, in essence, the right to a hearing on lawful imprisonment, or more broadly, the supervision of law enforcement by the judiciary. The ability to suspend habeas corpus is related to the imposition of martial law. Article 1, Section 9 of the US Constitution states, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” There have been many instances of the use of the military within the borders of the United States, such as during the Whiskey Rebellion and in the South during the Civil Rights Movement, but these acts are not tantamount to a declaration of martial law. The distinction must be made as clear as that between martial law and military justice: deployment of troops does not necessarily mean that the civil courts cannot function, and that is one of the keys, as the Supreme Court noted, to martial law.
In United States law, martial law is limited by several court decisions that were handed down between the American Civil War and World War II. In 1878, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which forbids U.S. military involvement in domestic law enforcement without congressional approval.