What does posse comitatus mean and Trump could suspend it? — Quartz
The Defense Department press conference marked the second time a Trump administration official was asked about “posse comitatus” today. Reporters also grilled White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders about whether Trump would suspend habeas corpus—the right for anyone who is arrested to appear before a judge—in order to stop asylum seekers. She did not rule it out, sparking concerns.
A posse comitatus is defined as a group summoned by the local sheriff to keep the peace or enforce an opposed legal precept, but in this case the term refers to an act first passed after the US Civil War that makes it illegal for the armed forces to be used to uphold domestic laws.
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.
At its essence, the law reflects the American historical preference for stronger state governments and local authorities over centralized federal oversight and control. It was first created to “end the use of federal troops to police state elections in former Confederate states,” as the Rand Corporation, the military think tank, explains.