Today, the President “strongly recommended” to all Governors that they “deploy the national guard in sufficient numbers that we dominate the streets,” before implying that the role of the guard would be to serve in a law enforcement capacity “until the violence has quelled.” He also suggested he may invoke the Insurrection Act of 1807 to deploy the U.S. Military into the various states. In response, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak issued the following statement:
“The President’s statement today demands that I speak out. I have already denounced violence and destruction of property. I do so again here. But I also want to acknowledge the peaceful protesters whose voices reflect the degree to which many Americans are justifiably frustrated and angry at the senseless murder of George Floyd, the improper use of force, systemic racism, and the rampant injustices Black Americans face. At this critical time, all Americans, especially our leaders, should be sending a message of compassion and taking the time to listen. Unfortunately, the President has once again taken the path of inciting combativeness, stoking racial tensions, and creating division when we need unity more than ever. “
“When it comes to the role of the Nevada National Guard, I want to be clear to all Nevadans: The Guard are our neighbors, family members, and friends. They help in our time of need – from responding to wildfires, to most recently playing a critical role in our statewide response to the COVID-19 public health crisis by administering, collecting, and processing COVID-19 tests at the significant risk of their own personal health. Similarly, in recent days and at the request of local leaders, two Guard units have been activated and are currently on standby to assist in preserving public safety as well as the ability of individuals to exercise their rights to peacefully demonstrate.”
“To suggest that the authorities in Nevada— local law enforcement, the National Guard —are unable, have failed, or refuse to secure and protect the residents of the State of Nevada and their rights, privileges, and immunities, is misinformed. As the Commander In Chief of the Nevada National Guard I can state, categorically, that they have done their duty to protect all Nevadans, and will continue to do so.”
10 USC 253 contemplates a U.S. President, without the request of a state’s governor, using the armed forces or militia on U.S. soil in an exceedingly narrow set of circumstances. The President may, according to the Insurrection Act, use the armed forces or militia on U.S. soil in order to “suppress, in a State, any insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy,” but only if, first, one of these types of events is occurring; second, if the event or series of events so hinders the enforcement of the laws of the particular State and of the United States in that State that any part or class of the State’s people is deprived of a right, privilege, immunity, or protection named in the Constitution and secured by law; and the authorities of the State are unable, fail, or refuse to protect that right, privilege, or immunity, or to give that protection; or if the event or set of events opposes or obstructs the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.