It is simply the legalized authority granted to the executive and military authorities in a country to impose rule on the population in times of rebellion or when national security is threatened. Martial law was declared during the American revolution with colonists fighting against the British crown.
Martial law is basically the ruling authority over a country exercised by military and/or civilian authorities in times of rebellion. Martial law is established by the U.S. military when it comes to American soil. However, martial law does not just apply on Americans; other nations outside America have their own variations of the law.
In Japan for instance, the military imposes laws that allow the military to declare a state of emergency and suspend civil society activities that are deemed to be detrimental to the military. Civilians are generally confined to the house or home and cannot travel outside of the designated area.
A military tribunals panel decides cases involving accusations of criminal offenses committed by members of the military. If a member of the military is accused of a crime by a civilian, then the panel would be composed of three people: one civilian, one military official and one representative of the defense counsel.
If a military member is charged with a crime by a civilian, the panel would be composed of ten persons: two military members, five civilians and one legal advisor. Martial law would also allow the military to override any civilian court decisions with regards to the accused individual.
In case of an emergency, martial law would allow the U.S. military to put up a show of strength and place restrictions on civilian populations. For instance, if a large scale civil disturbance is occurring in the U.S., the military can take over all television stations and radio stations within the United States.
If the military determines that a civilian is causing an outbreak of violence, or if there are credible threats of violence against a civilian population, the military can disperse thousands of troops throughout the United States. The military will assume control of the airports, transportation services and major cities.
Martial law does not extend to the federal government, except in cases of extreme emergency. In other words, if the president of the United States is ordered to quell a mutiny by members of the military, the U.S. military can do it.
What is martial law in the military is important to understand when you’re traveling outside of the United States or when you’re inside the country. When American citizens are suspected of participating in terrorist activities, it is possible that the military could be detaining them without providing any probable cause to do so. Civilians who are accused of any crime other than those related to terrorism can be rounded up and taken away in buses, planes and boats. If they happen to be American citizens, they may have the right to an attorney.
This is what martial law is. It’s a controversial topic, and some people are very opposed to its declaration. But, just what is martial law if not unreasonable searches and seizures by the military? The reality is that the declaration of it doesn’t strip any citizen of their rights; rather, it only extends those rights to those accused of participating in activities that are construed as unlawful.