POSSE COMITATUS

Post # 46

The following information is from https://www.thoughtco.com June 4, 2020

THE POSSE COMITATUS ACT

The Posse Comitatus Act prohibits the use of forces of the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy, or Marines to enforce federal, state, or local laws anywhere on American soil unless authorized to do so by the Constitution or an act of Congress. The Posse Comitatus Act, however, does not prevent state national guard units from assisting law enforcement within their home state or an adjacent state when requested by the state’s governor, or when placed under federal control through the presidential invocation of the Insurrection Act of 1807.

THE INSURRECTION ACT

The Insurrection Act of 1807, as an emergency exception to the Posse Comitatus Act, empowers the president of the United States to deploy both the regular U.S. military and the active-duty National Guard—under temporary federal control—within the United States in certain extreme or emergency circumstances, such as rioting, insurrection, and rebellion. For example, Harvard University law professor Noah Feldman has stated that the “broad language” of the Insurrection Act allows the use of the military when necessary to prevent acts “obstructing the execution of federal law to the extent that local police and the National Guard can’t successfully stop violence on the streets,” such as rioting and looting.

WHAT THE REGULAR MILITARY CANNOT DO ON US SOIL

Under the Posse Comitatus Act as reflected in Department of Defense (DoD) policy, regular military forces, while deployed on U.S. soil, are prohibited from performing several traditional law enforcement activities other than in a support role, including (1) Carrying out actual apprehensions, searches, questioning, and arrests. (2) Using force or physical violence. (3) Brandishing or using weapons except in self-defense, in defense of other military personnel, or defense of non-military persons, including civilian law enforcement personnel.

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Published by Kenneth E. Long

Author, college professor of economics, swimming and tennis enthusiast

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