The Posse Comitatus Act is a United States federal law (18 U.S.C. § 1385) passed on June 18, 1878, after the end of Reconstruction, with the intention (in concert with the Insurrection Act of 1807) of substantially limiting the powers of the federal government to use the military for law enforcement.
The Act prohibits most members of the federal uniformed services (today the Army, Air Force, and State National Guard forces when such are called into federal service) from exercising nominally state law enforcement, police, or peace officer powers that maintain “law and order” on non-federal property (states and their counties and municipal divisions) within the United States.
WeAreChange Ohio traveled to Newport, Kentucky to investigate the military checkpoints that appeared around the downtown area on September 6, 2009. Officially, this was done for traffic control purposes during the annual Riverfest celebration that is held on both sides of the Ohio River.
Military Police from the U.S. Army National Guard performed a series of tasks throughout the day, which included aiding the local police to close bridges across the river, and to reverse traffic along Monmouth Street in Newport.
The soldiers interviewed in this video acknowledged that even if asked to perform illegal or unconstitutional actions, they would just follow orders and it was not their responsibility to evaluate whether their actions were legal.