What Can Happen Under Martial Law

Posted: December 30, 2014 in SHTF Preparedness, Theories & Ideas
Tags: , , , , , ,

Martial Law

What could happen if the government were to declare Martial Law? What rights as US citizens would we see disappear?   How long would Martial Law last? What are the circumstances in which Martial Law can be enacted? These are just a couple of questions that come to mind once the term Martial Law is brought up. All of these questions are legitimate to ask, and we will try to provide with some answers.

Fort Hood ShootingWhat are the circumstances in which Martial Law can be enacted? At the local and state level, there are several circumstances which the authorities can enact martial law. However, what we normal see as a response for local authorities is more “Martial Rule” not Martial Law. Why isn’t martial law? In a 1866 Supreme Court ruling (Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2) as a response to an appeal, the court stated that one of the conditions that must exist before martial law can be enacted in that the courts must be closed. In other words, the local judicial system must be completely shut down and unable to hear criminal cases.

In most cases that we have recently seen, local authorities enact some sort of “Martial Rule” is in response to a disaster or localized civil unrest. During times of disasters, local and state authorities will most likely only establish and enforce a curfew along and if there is an area with a lot of damage, they may restrict freedom of movement in and out of the area or require proof of residencies to gain entry in to the hazardous area. When this happens there is usually very limited opposition to these types of limitations and again are in response to some sort of disaster within a given area.

In the case of urban unrest as we have seen in several cities, both state and local authorities have several options that they often use to respond to the situation. Along with the curfew, restrict of movement and proof of residencies, local and state authorities may begin to restrict other basic rights. Among the first right we often see disappear is the “Right to Assemble”. The First Amendment to the Constitution of United States provides several rights to the U.S. citizen to include “the right of the people peaceably to assemble”. The right to assemble is often the first casualty of urban unrest. However, again one must remember that the majority of the time, urban unrest will be confined to populated areas and last for a short time.

Nationally martial law has only been declared once within the United States. This was during the Civil War and several rights were suspended especially in the southern states. Again, this was the only time that martial law has been declared on a national level. The largest area or region to have martial law declared was during World War II, when martial law was declared for Washington, Oregon, California and part of Arizona. As part of this declaration, many Japanese-American citizens were forcibly removed from their homes and places of business and placed in detriment camps for the duration of the war. During this period, the then territory of Hawaii was also under martial law and military rule, complete with a military governor.

Bill of RightsNow, what would martial law look like in today’s America? Several of the rights that we take for granted today would be gone. These rights include:

  • Freedom of speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Right to assemble
  • Right of the citizenry petition the Government for a redress of grievance
  • Right to bear arms
  • Right to be tried in a civilian court
  • Protection against unreasonable search and seizures
  • Rights in criminal cases to include the right to counsel

Other freedoms, rights and liberties that could negated for the duration include:

  • Habeas Corpus – a legal action or writ by means of which detainees can seek relief from unlawful imprisonment
  • Miranda Warning – a warning to criminal before they are interrogated to preserve the admissibility of their statements against them in criminal proceedings

Check pointThe Supreme Court may be dissolved and Congressional powers may become severely limited. These actions will place all the power to run the country within the executive branch, most likely the President acting as a dictator. Along with federal level governmental intuitions being either transformed or dissolved, most state governmental intuitions will also suffer the same fate. The dictator could then install either and a puppet civilian or a military governor in charge of states or regions. As the local and state governments are transformed and dissolved and the puppet institutions are stood up in their place, we will see the transfer of law enforcement from local sheriff and police departments to the military officials and military tribunals.

If or when national martial law is enacted the nation will transformed in to something that will resemble the most stanch totalitarian regime we have seen. We will most likely see rationing of both goods and services, the disappearance of those who are speaking out against the regime and the end to all the rights that you have enjoyed.


  1. plowboy says:

    I was not aware the courts had to be closed before martial law. Thanks for filling in the gap.


  2. Armed GrandPappy says:

    If our POTUS did this, he will have the civil war he so desperately wants. He severely underestimates the resolve of the populace that will never surrender their arms or other freedoms. Would all be over in less than 30 days with these appointed military commanders all dead from sniper fire and the POTUS dragged from his spider hole and made an example of.


  3. Illini Warrior says:

    If martial law is ever decreed it will be a long term conditions …. years if not decades …. once the power brokers get their mitts on the golden ring – it’ll be h@ll taking it back

    and once martial law is repealed don’t expect to see the Bill of Rights and even the original Constitution …. once the power brokers have waged a pitched battle disarming the civilian masses – don’t ever expect to see private ownership of weapons …. same same with right of free speech …. we’ll be lucky if there’s a one party /one candidate election …..


  4. Omega Tactical and Survival says:

    Reblogged this on Omega Tactical and Survival and commented:
    Great article on Martial Law


  5. colt triarii says:

    Very sobering. We already saw door to door gun confiscation in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

    Great article.

    Thank you.


  6. danrshaw says:

    Another example of what occurs is to look at what happened in Watertown Ct after the Boston Marathon Bombing.


    • Jim West says:

      You mean Watertown Ma. I believe that whole situation up there was a “practice” run on how a state can shut down and force residents out of their homes AT GUN POINT as seen in hundreds of pictures. The sheep in Ma didn’t have a problem with it either. Sad and it just shows how far we’ve slipped as a nation.


  7. Reblogged this on Homestead Dreamer and commented:
    An interesting read. Definite food for thought but taken with a grain of salt. ~HD


  8. charles says:

    BE armed & be trained


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