Martial Law, 2004 Style

April 2004
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings;Apr2004, Vol. 130 Issue 4, p26
Conference Proceeding
Martial law is a territorial notion — it covers the civilian population within a defined geographical area. Within that area, the military tills the gap created when civil order has broken down or its institutions cannot be relied on to perform their functions. In such a regime, orders ordinarily emanating from public officials come from uniformed officers who serve under the authority of their military commissions. The entire public is swept within a martial law regime. A familiar example occurred during World War II when the Territory of Hawaii was placed under martial law following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The entire civilian population was covered, not simply those of Japanese ancestry. Of course, the matter proved to be highly controversial, especially as time passed, and the Supreme Court wound up holding that convictions in the martial law courts were invalid once the threat of invasion had passed.


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