1385 of title
18 (commonly known as the “Posse Comitatus Act”) prohibits the use of the Armed Forces as a posse comitatus to execute the laws except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress.
(2)Enacted in 1878, the Posse Comitatus Act was expressly intended to prevent United States Marshals, on their own initiative, from calling on the Army for assistance in enforcing Federal law.
(3)The Posse Comitatus Act has served the Nation well in limiting the use of the Armed Forces to enforce the law.
(4)Nevertheless, by its express terms, the Posse Comitatus Act is not a complete barrier to the use of the Armed Forces for a range of domestic purposes, including law enforcement functions, when the use of the Armed Forces is authorized by Act of Congress or the President determines that the use of the Armed Forces is required to fulfill the President’s obligations under the Constitution to respond promptly in time of war, insurrection, or other serious emergency.
(5)Existing laws, including chapter
15 of title
10 (commonly known as the “Insurrection Act”), and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act (42 U.S.C. 5121 et seq.), grant the President broad powers that may be invoked in the event of domestic emergencies, including an attack against the Nation using weapons of mass destruction, and these laws specifically authorize the President to use the Armed Forces to help restore public order.
(b) Sense of Congress
Congress reaffirms the continued importance of section
1385 of title
18, and it is the sense of Congress that nothing in this chapter should be construed to alter the applicability of such section to any use of the Armed Forces as a posse comitatus to execute the laws.
The Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, referred to in subsec. (a)(5), is Pub. L. 93–288, May 22, 1974, 88 Stat. 143, as amended, which is classified principally to chapter 68 (§ 5121 et seq.) of Title 42, The Public Health and Welfare. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section
5121 of Title
42 and Tables.
This chapter, referred to in subsec. (b), was in the original “this Act”, meaning Pub. L. 107–296, Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2135, known as the Homeland Security Act of 2002, which is classified principally to this chapter. For complete classification of this Act to the Code, see Short Title note set out under section
101 of this title and Tables.
The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.
The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013
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Description of Change
Statutes at Large
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