A little-noticed change in federal law packs an important change in who is in charge the next time a state is devastated by a disaster such as Hurricane Katrina.
To the dismay of the nation’s governors, the White House now will be empowered to go over a governor’s head and call up National Guard troops to aid a state in time of natural disasters or other public emergencies. Up to now, governors were the sole commanders in chief of citizen soldiers in local Guard units during emergencies within the state.
It didn’t matter that ALL 50 governors objected to this concentration of power in the hands of the executive – the Congress simply moved forward by changing the balance of powers through legislation (once again).
More from the article:
Under the U.S. Constitution, each state’s National Guard unit is controlled by the governor in time of peace but can be called up for federal duty by the president.
The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 forbids U.S. troops from being deployed on American soil for law enforcement. The one exception is provided by the Insurrection Act of 1807, which lets the president use the military only for the purpose of putting down rebellions or enforcing constitutional rights if state authorities fail to do so.
So what did Congress do to avoid this requirement? With the stroke of a pen, they just changed the requirement of the insurrection act to include “natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident”
How does a “natural disaster” now qualify as an insurrection?? Who, then, determines what qualifies as a natural disaster? Will a snowstorm qualify for the president to control the guard, and send troops into our cities? Will a heavy rain? And, when will Congress use another “stroke of the pen” to add even more reasons to have federal military control policing our cities?
It’s not the abuse of power we’re most concerned with, it’s the power to abuse. This unconstitutional move by the federal government gives them, in writing, the power to do two things:
1. federal control of the guard, which is clearly under the jurisdiction of the states – except in “times of insurrection…”
2. Congress has once-again given itself the power to change the Constitution by pure legislation – not a constitutional amendment. (this is even more dangerous)
To us, this is clearly an example of the federal government showing us that they can and will change the structure of power as created by the founders. Period.
We find it disgraceful that Congress would violate the original intent of Article I, Section 8, Clause 15, and enact legislation that has forced State citizen militias to ‘metamorphose’ into a national organization that is now primarily deployed outside of the United States.
We call on the governors to hold to their duty – to dispute and refuse to obey unconstitutional laws, and thus to prevent our Guard members from federal control in these and many other situations already in place.