December 04, 2018

Legal Fact Check traces the history of using the U.S. military in a law enforcement capacity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 4, 2018 — The recent arrival of U.S. military forces at the southern border to bolster U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents raises legal questions about the role of the military to quell disturbances, such as those that recently took place in Tijuana, Mexico.

A new ABA Legal Fact Check posted today traces the history of using troops in a law enforcement capacity and explores the legal limits set forth by the 1878 Posse Comitatus Act, a Reconstruction-era law that restricted military forces from enforcing U.S. law. The law now allows for military action to suppress insurrection or to enforce federal authority, such as when then-President Dwight D. Eisenhower used troops to force the city of Little Rock, Ark., to desegregate its schools in 1957, after mobs prevented African-American students from attending Little Rock Central High School.

ABA Legal Fact Check seeks to help the media and public find dependable answers and explanations to sometimes confusing legal questions and issues. For coverage of other timely issues in the news, these prior ABA Legal Fact Checks might be helpful:

  • Click here for the legal issues related to revoking a White House “hard” media pass.
  • Click here on the legal history of U.S. birthright citizenship.
  • Click here on what legally constitutes the crime of treason.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on under what circumstances, if any, would a president be above the law.
  • Click here for an ABA Legal Fact Check on the authority of a president to issue pardons.

The URL for the site is Follow us on Twitter @ABAFactCheck.

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