Can The President Declare Martial Law Immediately? (Explained!)

President Declare Martial Law

The president has the power to declare martial law immediately under certain circumstances when he deems fit. Declaring martial law means that the military takes over the handling of affairs in society. So, when the president declares martial law, he transfers power to the military, ceasing to be a civil rule.

Many people do not like martial law as things are usually stricter. It is why martial law rarely happens. However, as we go further with this article, we would state certain times when there has been a martial rule in the US and years when it happened. 

When a certain crisis happens in society people wonder if the government will declare martial law. But there has been no implementation of martial law in some years. 

When the Black Lives Matter protest broke out, some people felt there would be an implementation of martial law, but it did not happen. On a general note, society prefers civil rule over military rule.

In this article, we will be highlighting times when the government can declare martial law. Also, we will talk about the methods or actions that happen during martial law.

But first, below is a table highlighting some events that led to the implementation of martial laws and the years they happened.

Events Year 
Great Chicago Fire1871
San Francisco Earthquake 1906
Cambridge Riot 1963
Lexington Riots 1920

Times When The Government Can Impose Martial Law 

Times When The Government Can Impose Martial Law 

Some situations that can lead to the implementation of martial law are:


Protests usually happen for different reasons, and it is not only peculiar to the United States. People in different societies usually engage in a protest, especially when they are not comfortable with certain things happening in society.

For example, it could be that the government introduced a new law, and members of the society are not comfortable with it. Thus, they protest, hoping that the government will reverse the law.

Another example of protest would be the Black Lives Matter protest. What happened in this case of the incessant killings of black people, so they took to the streets to air out their grievances.

Constitutionally, it is not wrong to engage in protests. Often, we even see security agents guarding people when they protest. 

Now, you may be wondering how protests can lead to the implementation of martial law. It usually happens when the protests get out of control and the governor or president feels that the people are getting violent. It could also be that regular security agents cannot get the people under control. Then, the president has no other option than to declare martial law.

So, the president can declare martial law when protests become violent.

During Disasters 

Many societies usually encounter natural disasters, and the United States is not an exception. Sometimes, some states encounter these natural challenges, which may instigate the president to implement martial law.

Understandably, people usually panic during disasters, which can even turn violent. Therefore, the president is always alert, deploying help as he deems fit in such situations. But, unfortunately, we see that people cannot be calm in such situations.

Instead of following rules during such disasters, people are usually selfish and think about themselves alone. So, it can lead to scuffles and fights. Typically, other law enforcement agents are usually on the ground to control the people. But when it begins to overwhelm them, the president can implement martial law.

We also see that people are usually more scared of the military and will obey rules enforced by the military. So, martial law helps deescalate any violent situation and ensures that the people are safe.

Members of society know that there can be dire consequences if they refuse to follow instructions during martial law as the military court can charge them. Therefore, to avoid such, they usually abide by these regulations, and peace is restored to society.

People sometimes get confused about why the president felt a need to enforce martial law during disasters. But we can see how it plays out now.

Ways Martial Law Works.

Here are some ways martial law can work when it is implemented:

Through Curfews 

Due diligence allows the military to impose a curfew on the state during martial law, depending on the situation.

Sometimes, we see that they impose total lockdown on the city, restricting the movement of the residents. It helps curb violence, and the curfew stays until they feel it is time to lift it.

But, of course, there would be some people who want to flaunt the curfew. We always advise that people not go against rules during martial law as the consequences are usually severe. We have seen that civil rule is usually more lenient than military rule. A person who flaunts the rule may get away with things during military rule, but they won’t get away with it during military rule.

Also, it can be a partial curfew where people can move around, but they need to be at home at certain times. For example, the curfew might start at 6 pm and stay overnight.

Through Military Trials 

The idea here is that the military gets some suspects and makes them undergo military trials and then punish them according to their offenses. 

Typically, it would be that these people committed high-level crimes, and the military handles the case rather than having these suspects go through a civilian court.

People do not like when martial law is implemented, as they know that the law doesn’t let them get away with certain things.

But there are chances that people can get away with some things if they commit low-level crimes.


Some frequently asked about martial law are:

What Is Martial Law?

Martial law refers to when the military is invited to take over and handle affairs of the society for some time to restore law and order.

Can The President Implement Martial Law Immediately? 

Yes, the president can implement martial law immediately when he feels that things are getting out of control. Therefore, the president hands over civil rule to the military, becoming a military rule.


Martial law rarely happens, but the president has the power to declare martial law immediately if he deems fit. After all, his goal is to ensure that society stays orderly, and it could be that the military is in the best place to make this possible.