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27 Mar: What Would it Mean if the U.S. Declared Martial Law During the COVID-19 Outbreak?

While many people envision times of martial law with tanks in the streets and soldiers with rifles instructing people to stay in their homes, this is not necessarily what a declaration of martial law would mean during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, when asked about California governor Gavin Newsom’s comment that he would consider declaring martial law if necessary, Brian Ferguson, spokesman for the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, said that any utilization of martial law would be “a humanitarian mission to support health and safety.”

27 Feb: What Would it Take for the U.S. to Declare Martial Law During the Coronavirus Pandemic?

Martial law is a concept that dates back to the earliest days of our democracy. If martial law is declared, military authority takes precedence over the governance of the state and federal executive, legislative and judicial branches. The President and Congress each have the power to declare martial law at the federal level, and governors can declare martial law when permitted by state constitution.