Could a President use martial law to remain in office past 2 terms?

If for example a president who served 2 full terms in office came to the realisation that leaving office would leave him open to legal prosecution for crimes committed while in office and that his party which previously defended him would throw him under the bus if he left office, decided to call the 22nd Ammendment "fake news" and declared martial law to stop the 2024 presidential elections and order the arrest of the opposing party's presidential nominee claiming he's "using illegal immigrants to rig the election", could this potentially work to stop the president from leaving office?


Note: this is just a thought experiment to see if it's possible for the US to ever turn into a dictatorship, and a test to check the reliability of America's system if checks and balances.

8 Answers

  • 9 months ago
    Favourite answer

    He might be arrogant enough to try this, but either federal marshals or the armed forces would march into the White House, drag him out, and ask the new president to issue a warrant for his arrest.

    The US Military is required to ignore an illegal command, whether issued by a military officer or the president.

  • Tmess2
    Lv 7
    9 months ago

    There is an apocryphal story that Nixon was considering declaring martial law when he was facing impeachment and removal.  The Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs allegedly told Nixon that they would not obey such an unlawful order.

    Whether true or not, the story points to a key difference between a stable established democracy and countries without a democratic condition.  In most of the older democracies, the military is loyal to the country, not to the head of government.  They will obey lawful orders but have no interest in taking part in an unlawful coup by military force.  They will not prevent a change of the head of government if that change of government occurs by lawful means such as an election or a vote of no-confidence or impeachment.

    While recent years have seen some undermining of institutions in America, I think the military would still recognize that the winner of the 2024 election was the new president and would not act to keep the former president in power.  I also think that they would not act to block the election from taking place.  The U.S. had elections during the Civil War.  It's unlikely that any circumstance that could arise in November 2020 or November 2024 would justify cancelling elections.  (And the decision to cancel elections is actually a state decision not a presidential decision.)

  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    Roosevelt came the closest to doing that.  However, he proved it is unwise to serve more than two terms; and the election process itself is extremely stressful.  Did you see what Roosevelt looked like, after 12 years on the job?  He was a total wreck!  He died on April 12, 1945, from a massive brain hemorrage, caused by extreme hypertension.  The Constitution now sets limits on Presidential terms.

    (Roosevelt's worst power-grab was his blatantly illegal attempt to "pack the Supreme Court" with yes-men of his choosing.  Even Democrats agreed this was going too far.)

    The USA already has a dictatorship: It's called "political correctness."

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  • 9 months ago

    No. The Presidency ends on schedule, even if there is no election. If no election is held, then the Speaker of the House would act as President.

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  • Anonymous
    9 months ago

    The US military cannot be deployed domestically without Congressional approval. So even if he declared it, there's no one to enforce it. In a (very slightly) more realistic scenario, he could issue an executive order delaying the date elections are held. This would no doubt be challenged in federal courts and quickly overturned.

  • 9 months ago

    No. If you are implying Trump would try to do that then you are wrong. 

    However, Obama wanted to suspend the Constitution.  He was warned the police would not support him and the military would only support him if the USA was in a major war.  Even then, the military would not support him if he suspended all of the Constitution.  For example, the USA was in major wars in 1864 and 1944 but held the Presidential elections normally.  

  • 9 months ago

    No, only because of a serious war, or natural disaster which would prevent voting!

  • 9 months ago

    Failed civics?  Don't know how to use the internet??

    That you cannot find this on your own with all the resources available - is pretty scary.

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