The Lawfare Podcast: How to Fix the Insurrection Act

Jen Patja Howell, Scott R. Anderson, Elizabeth Goitein, Joseph Nunn
Wednesday, September 28, 2022, 12:00 PM

Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With

For much of its history, the United States has had a single law on the books that governs when the president can deploy the military to enforce federal law within the United States: the Insurrection Act. While the act hasn't been invoked in decades, it played an important role in several recent controversies, including the acts of Jan. 6. Now, some scholars have written the Jan. 6 commission, urging that it be included in the broader set of reforms that committee is reportedly getting ready to endorse.

To learn more, Lawfare senior editor Scott R. Anderson sat down with the two authors of the recent submission to the committee: Liza Goitein, senior director of the Liberty & National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and her colleague Joseph Nunn, counsel at the same program. They discussed the history of the Insurrection Act, what they think makes it dangerous, and how Congress should try to fix it.

Jen Patja Howell is the editor and producer of The Lawfare Podcast and Rational Security. She currently serves as the Co-Executive Director of Virginia Civics, a nonprofit organization that empowers the next generation of leaders in Virginia by promoting constitutional literacy, critical thinking, and civic engagement. She is the former Deputy Director of the Robert H. Smith Center for the Constitution at James Madison's Montpelier and has been a freelance editor for over 20 years.
Scott R. Anderson is a fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution and a Senior Fellow in the National Security Law Program at Columbia Law School. He previously served as an Attorney-Adviser in the Office of the Legal Adviser at the U.S. Department of State and as the legal advisor for the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.
Elizabeth Goitein co-directs the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice. She previously served as counsel to Senator Russ Feingold on the Senate Judiciary Committee and as a trial attorney in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice.
Joseph Nunn is counsel in the Brennan Center’s Liberty and National Security Program. He focuses on issues surrounding the domestic activities of the U.S. military, including martial law and the Insurrection Act.

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