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The Posse Comitatus Act was originally enacted in 1878 to restrict the use of the United States military in many domestic matters. Originally, the act only covered the Army, which doesn't seem particularly surprising - as I understand it, the law was in reaction to events like the Great Railroad Strike of 1877, in which federal troops were used, including the US Army, whereas the Navy was not particularly involved. Therefore, it makes sense to me that the act would only focus on the Army.

However, in 1956, it was amended to include the Air Force - and no other branch of the military. Why weren't the Navy and the Marines (in particular) added along with the Air Force? They're now effectively subject to the same restrictions by dint of DoD regulations, but those regulations were only added over three decades later.

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    And why are the National Guard excluded? – copper.hat Jun 2 at 3:30
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    @copper.hat: Because all National Guards reports to their respective state governments, not to the Federal government. The Posse Comitatus Act specifically bans the Federal government from using its own military, which is an option they would otherwise have. – MSalters Jun 2 at 12:45
  • First, this is really a history or politics question since legal history otherwise only matters when it comes to interpretation not the reason for bureaucratic allocations of power among agencies. Second, I suspect that the reason is that jurisdictional bounds between the Coast Guard and Navy have shifted over time (and the Marines are part of the Navy). The Navy historically did much of the law enforcement at sea in U.S. waters (which Posse Comitatus would otherwise forbid) that is now done by the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard historically was more limited to customs duty collection. – ohwilleke Jun 3 at 22:04
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    I’m voting to close this question because it belongs on Politics.StackExchange or History.StackExchange. It is beyond the scope of Law.StackExchange. – ohwilleke Jun 3 at 22:13

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