Professor of Law Emeritus William C. Banks Discusses Trump’s Hints at Expanding the Use of the Military in the U.S. During a Second Term

Professor of Law Emeritus William C. Banks has provided legal analysis on the Posse Comitatus Act, which generally prohibits using the military for law enforcement purposes, for the Associated Press article “Trump Hints At Expanded Military Role Within The Country. A Legacy Law Could Let Him.”

Banks says that a military officer is not forced to follow “unlawful orders” from the president. That could create a difficult situation for leaders whose units are called on for domestic policing since they can face charges for taking unlawful actions.

“But there is a big thumb on the scale in favor of the president’s interpretation of whether the order is lawful,” Banks says. “You’d have a really big row to hoe and you would have a big fuss inside the military if you chose not to follow a presidential order.”

Banks is the co-author, along with Stephen Dycus, of the book Soldiers on the Home Front: The Domestic Role of the American Military.