By Mohamamd Mazhari

Army would refuse an order to crack down on possible peaceful protests after Nov. 3 elections:  prof

October 14, 2020 - 13:12

TEHRAN – An American professor is of the opinion that the U.S. Army would not obey a possible order to suppress peaceful protesters who may not accept the result of the November 3 presidential elections.  

Richard Anderson, professor of political science at the University of California (UCLA), tells the Tehran Times that armed forces would “refuse an order to intervene unless the protesters were armed and used their weapons.”  
The possible intervention of the army has been raised since Donald Trump, who is seeking reelection, has made claims of vote-rigging, creating a concern that his loyalists may resort to violence if he loses the election in the competition with Joe Biden. 
Just carrying weapons is not an insurrection, according to Anderson
“U.S. military law prohibits obeying illegal orders, and the military, which does not want to intervene, would use that prohibition to refuse an order under the Insurrection Act,” he notes.

The following is the text of the interview: 

Q: How do you assess Trump's performance as the president of the U.S.?

A: In a word, appalling.

Q: What is the international position in America? Is foreign policy important for the voters?

A: International position is hard to change.  Foreign states' economies remain dependent on the U.S. market, and the U.S. military remains dominant worldwide.  What matters to voters is the message communicated by a president, and foreign policy is a device for communicating that message.

“It is Trump's supporters, not his opponents, who are armed.  The troops are more likely to defend protesters than to suppress them.”Q: What is your assessment of Trump's COVID infection? How may it change the course of the elections?

A: It is unclear how sick the president is. The fact that he has tested positive and suffered symptoms reduces voter confidence in the part of his message that denies how threatening COVID is, although his apparently quick recovery if it is one, limits the damage his infection has done.  He may be showing some signs of the neurological side-effects of the steroid he is taking, which can affect thirty percent of recipients, but he is ordinarily so belligerent that it is hard to tell whether the steroid is making him any angrier.  Overall, his infection hurts his chances, which were already not promising.

Q: Can Trump resort to the Insurrection Act to send active-duty troops onto streets to quell possible protests over the results of the presidential elections on November 3?

A: The armed forces would refuse an order to intervene unless the protesters were armed and used their weapons. Just carrying weapons is not an insurrection. U.S. military law prohibits obeying illegal orders, and the military, which does not want to intervene, would use that prohibition to refuse an order under the Insurrection Act unless there was actually an armed insurrection.  It is Trump's supporters, not his opponents, who are armed.  The troops are more likely to defend protesters than to suppress them.

Q: Does it matter to Americans who will win the election?

A: To probably around 150 million American voters, it matters a lot who wins, and to many others ineligible to vote.

Q: What will be the Supreme Court's role if the nominees refuse to accept the results of elections? What are the implications of nominating Amy Coney Barrett to the court by Trump?  

A: The Democrats will accept the result. The Supreme Court can only act if the Republicans dispute the results in one or more states and file lawsuits in federal court to challenge the election result. For the lawsuit to be heard by a lower-court judge, they have to prove that enough votes have been miscounted to change the state's result.  That means the election needs to be close in the state, and it probably means that enough other states need to have supported Trump to make the outcome depend on the state or states where the Republicans challenge the vote, as the 2000 election depended on Florida.  

Most likely, the election will not be close, and the Supreme Court will not get involved. The Democrats may need to file lawsuits if Republican state legislatures try to reverse an election result favoring the Democrats in their state by having the legislature claim a constitutional prerogative to name its own electors.  That probably wouldn't survive even in a Republican Supreme Court.  

Right now, enough Republican Senators have COVID infections to preclude hearings on Trump's very conservative nominee and an 8-member Supreme Court would refuse to rule on Republican lawsuits challenging results. Even an 8-member court would rule against legislatures' claims to overrule the popular vote, and I can't see legislatures trying it unless the election is very close.

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