After a violent mob stormed the Capitol on January 6 to protest Joe Biden’s electoral victory several social media posts claiming that President Donald Trump had invoked the Insurrection Act, began circulating online.
One viral Facebook post shows a screenshot of a Parler account identified as @TeamTrumpNews that claims that President Trump invoked the Insurrection Act in response to what is described as a “treasonous rebellion by Democrat & Republican lawmakers.” Part of the widely shared post reads as follows: “I have invoked the The Insurrection Act of 1807, to address the treasonous rebellion conducted by Democrat & Republican lawmakers, CCP agents, the FBI, DOJ, CIA & others to undermine, corrode, and dismantle the United States of America and its constitution.”
The claim that Trump has invoked the Insurrection Act is false.
Michel Paradis, who teaches military and constitutional law at Columbia Law School, says the Insurrection Act gives the president the power to use the military in situations of “extreme civil disturbance.” The act, said Paradis, “is literally designed to give the government, the president specifically, the power to use the military to protect the continuity of constitutional government in America.”
In order to use the Insurrection Act, continued Paradis, the president needs to issue a proclamation, which he said is “the equivalent of a cease and desist order.” The fact that Trump hasn’t issued a proclamation is evidence that the Insurrection Act hasn’t been invoked.
Stephen Vladeck, professor at the University of Texas Law School, elaborated on this point in an email to The Dispatch Fact Check:
“Unlike almost any other federal statute, invocation of the Insurrection Act requires the president to issue a formal, public proclamation that he has activated his authority. Indeed, the whole point is that he has to notify those against whom force is to be used that the troops are on their way,” he said. “And even if the president does invoke that statute, it does not bring with it the imposition of martial law. All the Insurrection Act does is allow the president to use the federal military to supplement civilian law enforcement, not to supplant it.”
“Just as a simple straightforward legal matter, the Insurrection Act has not been invoked because the president has not invoked it,” explained Paradis. “It has to be publicly invoked …… there’s no ambiguity, it doesn’t lend itself to conspiracy theories.”