It seems that remains ongoing confusion regarding President Obama’s routine signing on March 16th of this year of “Executive Order – National Defense Resources Preparedness“. [http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/03/16/executive-order-national-defense-resources-preparedness ] Among other things it seems several conservative based news organizations are spreading a lot of misinformation regarding this order to include claims spanning from Obama signing himself new unheard of powers to declare martial laws to claims that at his instruction, federal authorities can enter homes, farms, ranches and the like “with guns drawn” and demand crops, seeds, livestock and farm equipment.
To clarify, the truth of the matter is that this was a routine executive order that has been issued by all presidents since the onset of the Korean war over sixty years ago. In specific, it goes back to the The Defense Production Act of 1950, as Amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.) and Title 3 U.S.C. section 301 U.S.C.. from 1951 and Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution adopted in 1787. It is merely a routine executive order that delegates a breakdown of responsibilities for executive department offices and officers, addresses national defense resource policies and programs in compliance with said Defense Production Act. It is a routine order all presidents have executed since 1950 to allocate resources for National Defense. It is not a blueprint for martial law, nor is it some new method wherein the “U.S. government now claims the power to simply march” anywhere.
The only form of martial law, or seizures such as you allege, that is allowed in theory under our constitution is the right of presidents to suspend habeas corpus during times of war or insurrection and even that right was found unconstitutional by the Supreme Court when Lincoln suspended the right in Maryland during the Civil War. Combine that decision with the long-standing posse comitatus law and there is virtually no constitutionally viable route or legal precedent to allow presidents the extraordinary power necessary to rule by decree.
If one is concerned with such matters as martial law or government seizures, one should be complaining about the John W. Warner Defense Authorization Act signed October 17, 2006, by President George W. Bush which granted an expansion of the President’s power to declare martial law under revisions to the Insurrection Act, and take charge of United States National Guard troops without state governor authorization when public order has been lost and the state and its constituted authorities cannot enforce the law. Fortunately those changes were later repealed by HR 4986: National Defense Authorization Act and the Insurrection Act reverted back to its former state, meaning Obama lacks the authority to declare martial law, peacetime or wartime or to effectuate seizures such as those many are alleging.