Civil War 2.0: Constitutional Crisis Intensifies

Trump's call for GOP governors to send their National Guard troops to the Texas border is working. He's exercising de facto control of military forces.

Civil War 2.0: Constitutional Crisis Intensifies
POTUS 45 v POTUS 46 (Source: LOC)

Publisher’s Note: Because of the speed of events in this expanding constitutional crisis over Texas GOP Governor Greg Abbott’s outright defiance of the January 22 Supreme Court order that the state cannot interfere with federal immigration enforcement actions, The Sentinel will now temporarily hold in abeyance further releases in the previously scheduled scenario-style “Civil War 2.0” series in order to cover this ongoing crisis as developments unfold.

On Thursday, January 25  in response to former President Trump’s call for “all willing governors” to send their National Guard (NG) forces to the Texas border in direct defiance of the Supreme Court’s latest ruling affirming federal supremacy in border and immigration matters, the Republican Governors Association (RGA) issued a statement indicating its full support for Abbott’s actions.

Some of the 25 GOP governors who signed the statement have already taken further steps in support of Abbott:

·       Friday, January 26:

o   Oklahoma Governor Kevin Stitt pledged to send an unspecified number of NG troops to Texas, claiming on Fox & Friends, “And so the fact that the federal government, Biden, is cutting the razor wire, it just makes no sense at all. So, yes, we have the right to defend our country against invasion.”

o   Idaho Governor Brad Little announced the deployment of two more teams of Idaho State Police troopers to the Texas-Mexico border. “We will work even harder to address the open border and its impacts because of the failure of the Biden-Harris administration to admit it’s even a problem,” Little said.

o   Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference at which he stated, “We may do more National Guard, but we also would be willing to do the Florida State Guard, and the reason why you would want to do the State Guard is because the president would not be able to federalize the State Guard.”

o   South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem announced on X (formerly Twitter) that she was heading to the Texas border to show her support for Abbott’s continued troops deployments. She made no statement as to possible Idaho NG or state police forces deploying to Texas.

Some states have lawfully deployed NG forces to the Texas border area as part of direct support operations under federal orders, such as Missouri, with the 220th Engineer Company from Festus and the 1251st Transportation Company from Harrisonville operating under the control of U.S. Northern Command.

The crisis of state governors attempting to subvert federal authority in immigration and border security matters has been building for the better part of two years. In June 2023 in response to calls from Abbott, the governors of Virginia and South Carolina dispatched troops to Texas, as did Alabama Governor Kay Ivey in October 2023, sending some 275 Alabama NG soldiers to Texas.

As I noted in Friday’s Sentinel piece, senior DoD officials have privately raised concerns about the potential number of white supremacists or other types of political extremists in the ranks of NG or Reserve units. But the study they commissioned from the Institute for Defense Analyses (IDA) did not address the issue of basic political loyalty to the Constitution and the Republic itself.

As the crisis unfolding before us now demonstrates, NG personnel are, in fact, following orders to deploy to the Texas-Mexico border in direct support of Abbott’s unconstitutional border security activities.

As a former commissioned officer in the U.S. Army, I view the failure of these units to refuse clearly unlawful orders from their governors as a violation of Article 92 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which is codified at 10 U.S.C. § 892. It is also evidence that the privately held fears that still-anonymous DoD officials conveyed to IDA analysts about NG unit loyalty appear to be justified—although the immediate, primary blame lies with the governors who are acting in defiance of the Supreme Court's January 22 ruling.

Former President Trump’s direct call for those GOP governors to defy the Supreme Court, and their willingness to obey his de facto order, has caused this radical escalation of an existing constitutional crisis. Unless President Biden takes decisive action immediately—federalizing all NG troops currently in Texas and instructing Attorney General Garland to remind all governors that defiance of Supreme Court rulings is illegal—he risks losing any control of the situation.

More updates will be forthcoming as events warrant.

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