Date of Award

Spring 5-18-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science


Political Science & International Relations


Del Dickson


Cities across the United States erupted in protest during the summer of 2020 after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. In response to these protests, President Donald Trump deployed federal troops to multiple cities, including Portland, Oregon. The legal basis for sending the troops was to protect federal property, and relied upon the powers of the Department of Homeland Security and an executive order from the summer. However, President Trump’s rhetoric suggests that the purpose of sending the troops was to quell the protests. Politicians, protestors, and lawsuits have alleged that Trump’s actions are unconstitutional, but old federal statutes, Constitutional amendments, and the powers of Homeland Security may justify the legality of the deployment.

This paper delves into the background of the protests and deployment of federal troops, analyzing the legal issues at hand in determining and complicating the legality and constitutionality of President Trump’s actions. It considers the current state of federalism, expanding executive strength, and federal police powers in the 21st century United States. Ultimately, this analysis finds that President Donald Trump legally deployed federal troops to the city of Portland and other metropolitan cities during the summer of 2020. However, once they arrived in the city, the troops began to engage in illegal and unconstitutional behavior that plainly violated the 10th Amendment and the basic American principle of federalism, as well as the 1st and 4th Amendment rights of protesters, journalists, and legal observers.