Statement of The Star News Network Editorial Policy on Stories About Calls for Martial Law in the United States of America


It is the policy of The Star News Network that we will publish no stories about calls for martial law in the United States made by public figures or private individuals at any of our online news websites, which currently consist of The Tennessee Star, The Ohio Star, The Michigan Star, The Minnesota Sun, The Georgia Star News, and The Virginia Star.

At the federal level, the imposition of martial law is exceedingly rare. It conjures an image of soldiers in the streets, arresting citizens at will.

But as The Military Times noted in October, martial law has no specific definition, though it can be defined as a period of time when “certain civil liberties may be suspended, such as the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, freedom of association, and freedom of movement.”

The news outlet cited JRANK, an online legal library as its source.

As best we can determine, martial law has only ever been declared by one sitting President, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, and even then only in two instances. In the first instance, from 1862 to 1866, martial law was only broadly applicable to “rebels,” presumably Confederate soldiers. In the second instance, from 1864 to 1865, it was applied only to the state of Kentucky.

During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved Governor J.B. Poindexter and Lt. General Walter C. Short’s decision to declare martial law in Hawaii, which at the time was a federal territory and not a state, after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. President Roosevelt subsequently terminated martial law there in 1944.

The very idea that a president could impose martial law during peace time – an idea which President Trump has rejected  – could lead to civil unrest unlike anything we have seen in modern history. It could lead to violence in the streets, from both sides of the political aisle. It could get Americans hurt, or even killed.

The Star News Network feels that it is irresponsible in such turbulent times to add fuel to the proverbial fire.

In the extremely unlikely event that any elected official or officials attempt to impose martial law in the United States, we will report on it. Until then, we will publish no stories on public or private figures who call for its imposition in this country.


Michael Patrick Leahy
CEO & Editor-in-Chief, Star News Digital Media

Christina Botteri
Executive Vice President, Star News Digital Media

Nashville, Tennessee
December 23, 2020



Star News Digital Media owns and operates The Star News Network.

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