Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Posse Comitatus Act of 1878

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The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. ยง 1385) passed on 1878-06-18 after the end of Reconstruction. The Act was intended to prohibit Federal troops from supervising elections in former Confederate states. It generally prohibits Federal military personnel and units of the United States National Guard under Federal authority from acting in a law enforcement capacity within the United States, except where expressly authorized by the Constitution or Congress. The Posse Comitatus Act and the Insurrection Act substantially limit the powers of the Federal government to use the military for law enforcement.

The original act referred only to the United States Army. The Air Force was added in 1956, and the Navy and the Marine Corps have been included by a regulation of the Department of Defense. This law is often mentioned when it appears that the Department of Defense is interfering in domestic disturbances.

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