Sunday, June 6th, 2010
Thank you to Dr. Morrisey for your insight into Federalist No. 28, and for checking back in with us over the weekend! You are a wonderful resource to our “90 in 90” Participants!
It is interesting to me that Hamilton seems to be calling for the federal government to use the military to enforce domestic law in some circumstances. He mentions specifically “seditions and insurrections.”
However, the American people have a strong history of opposing military enforcement of domestic law, unless requested by the state. Our forefathers rightly feared a standing army, due to abuses and usurpations of power the British Army had imposed on them.
After the Civil War, during Reconstruction, U.S. soliders were utilized to enforce law in the South. The issue came to a head during the election of 1876. Democrats dropped their challenge of this very close election (Rutherford Hayes won by one electoral college vote, but Samuel Tilden won the popular vote), when a compromise was reached to pass the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
Federalist No. 28, and the subsequent Posse Comitatus Act are both very relevant today, because in 2006, President Bush could not send federal troops in to Louisiana to assist in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, until he was specifically requested to do so by Governor Blanco. As a result, the federal government was not able to respond as quickly as many would have liked.
Later that year, an attempt was made in the 2006 Defense Authorization Act to revise the Posse Comitatus Act, to enable the President to respond more quickly in these types of emergencies. While the measure passed in 2006, it was repealed in 2008. As United States Citizens, it is “in our genes,” to be wary of standing armies, and certainly military enforcement of domestic law.
As I read Federalist 28, the below quote reminded me of why it is so important we all continue our effort to educate our youth and citizens about the U.S. Constitution and the and the foundation it sets forth regarding our freedoms and rights.
“The obstacles to usurpation and the facilities of resistance increase with the increased extent of the state, provided the citizens understand their rights and are disposed to defend them.”
Thank you to all of you who are joining us in our mission, speading the word and taking the time to blog with us!
Have a Blessed Sunday, and we look forward to blogging on Federalist 29 tomorrow!