Soldiers on the Home Front (Civil-Military Relations)

When crisis requires American troops to deploy on American soil, the country depends on a rich and evolving body of law to establish clear lines of authority, safeguard civil liberties, and protect its democratic institutions and traditions. Since the attacks of 9/11, the governing law has changed rapidly even as domestic threats—from terror attacks, extreme weather, and pandemics—mount. Soldiers on the Home Front is the first book to systematically analyze the domestic role of the military as it is shaped by law, surveying America’s history of judicial decisions, constitutional provisions, statutes, regulations, military orders, and martial law to ask what we must learn and do before the next crisis.

soldiers on the home frontAmerica’s military is uniquely able to save lives and restore order in situations that overwhelm civilian institutions. Yet the U.S. military has also been called in for more coercive duties at home: breaking strikes, quelling riots, and enforcing federal laws in the face of state resistance. It has spied on and overseen the imprisonment of American citizens during wars, Red scares, and other emergencies. And while the fears of the Republic’s founders that a strong army could undermine democracy have not been realized, history is replete with reasons for concern.

At a time when the military’s domestic footprint is expanding, William C. Banks and Stephen Dycus offer a thorough analysis of the relevant law and history to challenge all the stakeholders—within and outside the military—to critically assess the past in order to establish best practices for the crises to come.

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About the Authors
Table of Contents
Short Reviews
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Civil-Military Relations Scholarship

Research Papers & Chapters

  • Banks, W. “Soldiers on the Home Front.” Paper presented at 2017 AALS Annual Meeting, San Francisco, CA (Jan. 7, 2017).
  • Zoli, C. & R. Rubinstein. “Civil-Military Relations in the United States: Notes on Mutual Discontents & Disruptive Logics.” In Rethinking Civil-Military Relations: Anthropological Perspectives. Eds. B. Refslund Sørensen & E. Ben-Ari. Forthcoming 2017.
  • Zoli, C. & R. Rubinstein. “Military Culture & Humanitarian Actions: Short-term Gains & Long-term Losses.” In Lost in Translation. Ed. H.C. Breede. Forthcoming 2017. 

Presentations

The Lawfare Podcast: Bill Banks on “Soldiers on the Homefront: The Domestic Role of the American Military”

In November 2016, at the Hoover Book Soiree, Benjamin Wittes sat down with Bill Banks, Professor of Law at Syracuse University and the Founding Director of the Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism, to talk about Bill’s book with Stephen Dycus, Soldiers on the Homefront: The Domestic Role of the American MilitaryThe book examines how both law and culture has shaped and constrained the military’s domestic activities, reviewing the legal history of the various different roles that soldiers have played at home, from law enforcement to martial law. Given the widespread concern over the strength of the next administration’s commitment to civil liberties and the rule of law, it’s a conversation that’s unfortunately more relevant than ever. 

Listen to the podcast

Civil-Military Relations in the Era of Hybrid Threats

Duke Law School LENS Conference | Feb. 26, 2016

What is the Domestic Role of the Military as Shaped by Law?

In “Soldiers on the Home Front,” co-author, interim dean of Syracuse University College of Law, and director of the Institute for National Security and Counter Terrorism William Banks systematically analyzes the domestic role of the military as it is shaped by law, surveying America’s history of judicial decisions, constitutional provisions, statutes, regulations, military orders, and martial law to ask what we must learn and do before the next crisis. Co-authored by Stephen Dycus.

  • Introductions by Grant Reeher, Director of the Campbell Public Affairs Institute at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, which sponsored this discussion.
  • Moderated by James B. Steinberg, dean of the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and former US Deputy Secretary of State (2009 – 2011).