Media Mention

WSJ: Insurrection Act Reform “A Chance for Congress to Stave Off Tyranny”

April 30, 2024

Writing in The Wall Street Journal, William Galston called the Insurrection Act “an invitation to presidential abuse.” He argued that “it needs reform now,” and made the case for what such reform should look like, drawing on PRP’s participation in the American Law Institute’s Guidance for Insurrection Act Reform:

Before the end of the year, congressional Democrats and Republicans should come together to reform the Insurrection Act, which gives the president overbroad authority to deploy the U.S. military for domestic purposes …

We’ve been lucky that no president so far has abused this power. But our constitutional order doesn’t assume that our leaders will be virtuous. Indeed, it uses institutions and laws to hedge against the possibility that they won’t. Because the Insurrection Act ignores this possibility, Congress must reform it before our luck runs out.

A bipartisan panel convened by the American Law Institute has developed a blueprint for reform. Its recommendations include replacing antiquated language that lacks clear meaning in modern law, clarifying the conditions under which the president can invoke the act, imposing consultation and reporting requirements on the president, and establishing time limits.

The panel says a reformed Insurrection Act should “require the president to consult, prior to the deployment of troops, with the governor of any state into which troops will be deployed,” “require the president to make findings on the need to invoke the Insurrection Act, and to report these findings to Congress, along with a summary of consultations with state authorities, within 24 hours of deployment,” and “establish a time limit on the president’s authority to deploy troops.” The panel recommends a limit of no more than 30 days unless Congress explicitly authorizes an extension.

Read the column here.