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Posse Comitatus Act
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Posse Comitatus Act

This article is about a United States statute prohibiting the use of the armed forces for law enforcement. For the sheriff's powers of law enforcement at common law, see posse comitatus. For the terrorist organization, see The Posse Comitatus.
The Posse Comitatus Act is a law of the United States (18 USC 1385) passed in 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, and 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 original act only referred to the Army, but the Air Force was added in 1956 and the Navy and Marine Corps have been included by a regulation of the Department of Defense. This law is mentioned whenever it appears that the Department of Defense is interfering in domestic disturbances.

There are a number of exceptions to the act. These include:

The relevant legislation is as follows:

Sec. 1385. - Use of Army and Air Force as posse comitatus

Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or the Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.

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