Use of Potatoes to Block the Maine-Canada Border

Headnotes: 

A number of federal statutes might justify federal intervention in the event Maine potato farmers seek to block highways at border crossings in northeastern Maine to prevent the importation of potatoes from Canada, or attack federal officers or property at the United States-Canada border. Federal intervention might take the form of direct law enforcement activity by federal executive officials, or a judicial injunction against persons seeking to obstruct the passage of interstate commerce and the mails.

In extreme situations, the President may call out the National Guard or the Army to put down rebellions in states that threaten the enforcement of federal law.

Federal law enforcement officers have no special authority to make arrests for violations of state law, and they can act in this regard only as private citizens.

The Attorney General is the chief civilian officer in charge of coordinating all federal governmental activities relating to civil disturbances. Generally, because the statutory and constitutional scheme of our government leaves the protection of life and property and the maintenance of public order largely to state and local governments, the Attorney General has pursued a policy against commitment of federal forces until advised by the appropriate state officials that the situation is beyond their control.

Updated July 9, 2014