Insurrection By Any Other Name? Race, Protest, and Domestic Military Intervention

By Ailee Katz

During the summer of 2020, protests against police violence and racial injustice erupted around the country. In response to the movement, governors and the federal government deployed National Guard troops in several states and Washington, D.C. President Trump also threatened to invoke the Insurrection Act to suppress the protests.

Drawing on the concepts of antisubordination and racial citizenship, this Note contends that modern military suppression of racial justice protest reproduces racial hierarchy by physically and symbolically suppressing the valid exercise of citizenship, speech, and demand for equal treatment. After surveying the historical and modern legal landscape governing domestic military deployment—including the Posse Comitatus and Insurrection Acts—this Note calls for an updated framework that significantly curtails presidential and gubernatorial authority to suppress social unrest with military force. This Note therefore expands on existing scholarship that has explored how policing exacerbates racial violence and inequality by examining how the military can and has been used to maintain white supremacy.

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