Thompson: A quarantine examination on Martial Law


Amr Farouq Mohammed from New Cairo - Cairo, Egypt / CC BY-SA

With the unpredictable number of COVID-19 cases around the United States, citizens are starting to wonder whether Martial Law will be declared.

Russ Thompson, Guest Contributor

Martial Law

You have probably heard this term before in movies or maybe TV shows, but one question: What is it? 

It is a concept that could be looked at as maybe going against the founding fathers’ guidelines for our country.

Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2 in the Constitution defines what we would call Martial Law, by saying, “The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.” Writ of Habeas Corpus, simply put, is the way by which the government asks for someone to be brought forth and the prison holding them must have a valid reason for their detention. By suspending this, it means that there are technically no grounds too lackluster to produce a prison sentence. Martial Law is the way by which the government may take more power than is usually afforded it in order to protect public safety.

There are a few examples of Martial Law being utilized throughout U.S. history. General Andrew Jackson declared Martial Law in New Orleans and the four-mile radius surrounding New Orleans during The Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. He used it to control the area and kept it up even after the war had ended. He claimed he had not received an official word of peace, and when a judge demanded Habeas Corpus, Jackson jailed the judge. It has been declared in Hawaii after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Chicago after the Great Fire and even after the San Francisco earthquake of 1906.

In all of these circumstances, no major disturbances were reported and constitutional rights were given back to the people matter of factly.

What does this mean for us? How does it apply to us during the grand times of the Great 2020 Quarantine (copyright pending…)?

Many regions have already declared shelter-in-place orders as well as imposing curfews and putting entire cities into quarantines. Penalties for violating these could be as strong as six months in prison in some places. The state of Florida is requiring visitors from “hotspots” to quarantine for 14 days or they must go back home. Many places are pulling in their welcome mats to visitors during this time of crisis.

We are living in a time of uncertainty in which neighbors are turning against neighbors. This is promoting a snitch culture in our country. We are far too willing to give up our rights in exchange for “protection” from our government. They cannot protect you from this. We, my fellow Americans, must protect ourselves. In some areas of China, people are being WELDED into their homes. In India, people who are violating the quarantine are being caned. Serbians are being jailed for breaking quarantine. Relief military forces are being pulled in around the world, including here in the United States. At what point do we take our protection into our own hands in order to maintain our constitutional rights as well? We should still have the right to ourselves. Do we really want to let the government decide what is best for us? After this is over, what incentive does our government have to give us back our rights? Why would they?