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By Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Ph.D., J.D.
August 31, 2009
It is difficult these days not to come upon some pessimistic patriotic commentator expressing the fear that something called “martial law” may soon be imposed on this country, as the General Government’s response to a new “terrorist attack”, or to the economic and social chaos arising out of a collapse of the monetary and banking systems, or to some other dire event that frightens hapless Americans into trading a sure and certain loss of their liberties for a dollop of conjectural safety.
An optimistic patriot might scoff at such fears. But both pessimists and optimists typically share the same implicit first premise: namely, that the form of “martial law” they have in mind is legitimate. Most of the time, this is a rather glaring and dangerous error.
In legal analysis, definitions of terms make all the difference. And “martial law” can be defined in at least four ways:
Primer on Martial Law