Media Mention

Jack Goldsmith: Texas Border Standoff Demonstrates the Need for Insurrection Act Reform

January 27, 2024

Writing in Lawfare, PRP co-chair Jack Goldsmith argued that “the Texas border imbroglio reveals the need for and challenges of Insurrection Act reform.” He writes:

The Insurrection Act notoriously confers on the president extraordinarily broad authority to call out the militia or the armed forces to meet (depending on the context) “insurrections,” “rebellion,” “unlawful obstructions, combinations, or assemblages,” or “domestic violence”—all based on the president’s determination that one of those vague predicates is satisfied, and without any time limit. It is a breathtakingly broad emergency power that is urgently in need of reform …

The imbroglio between the federal government and the state of Texas at the Texas border helps demonstrate why Insurrection Act reform should be a bipartisan issue …

The Texas standoff highlights the profound challenges of reforming the Insurrection Act to bring Congress into the equation to prevent the abuse of domestic emergency military power while sufficiently empowering the president to maintain order. The challenges are all the greater because they come in a presidential election year at a time when our politics are riven and everyone will be focused on short-term winners and losers instead of the long-term health of the nation.

And yet the current statute is clearly out of whack in giving the president too much dangerous leeway. Insurrection Act reform is devilishly hard, but vital.

Read the full piece here.

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