June 10, 2008

Changes to the Insurrection Act

The Insurrection Act is made up of five sections of Title 10 of the United States Code (Entitled Armed Forces). The Sections are 331 through 335.

The changes to the Act, made via the Warner 2007 Defense Authorization Bill, drafted in 2006, are not that significant. What is significant is the the original Act. The Insurrection Act of 1807 is a notable exception to the Posse Comitatus Act, which reads simply:
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.

The Warner 2007 Defense Authorization Bill made the following changes (Sections not mentioned were not changed).

Old Title: "Insurrection"
New Title: "Enforcement of the Laws to Restore Public Order."

Old Section 333: Limited the military to "suppressing" "insurrection, domestic violence, unlawful combination, or conspiracy". Basically, once the violence is over, the feds leave.
New Section 333: Expands the military rights to a more open-ended role to "restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States" for the things cited above, plus "a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident, or other condition", where "other conditions" remain consistent with old law except that the words "or possession" are inserted to complement the law's application to states. Note how this expansion relates to new language in Section 334.

New Section 333 adds a requirement for the President to notify Congress of his use of this authority and report every 14 days.

Section 334, cited in full below, with new language in bold.

Whenever the President considers it necessary to use the militia or the armed forces under this chapter, he shall, by proclamation, immediately order the insurgents or those obstructing the enforcement of the laws to disperse and retire peaceably to their abodes within a limited time.

for a side-by-side comparison of the old and new versions of the Insurrection Act.

Internal Tags:

Insurrection Act of 1807
How it was changed
old version new
how old and new versions vary
changes made
law before and after changes
Title 10 U.S.C. USC US United States Code Section 331 132 133 134 335
Subtitle A
Part 1
Chapter 15


Cornell Law School US Code Collection Sections 131 - 135.

Wikipedia, Insurrection Act, Posse Comitatus Act.


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