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Statement

Coalition Letter Urges Congress to Support Changes to Domestic Deployment of the National Guard

On August 31, 2021, the Brennan Center joined thirty other civil society groups in calling on Congress to make crucial changes to the laws governing domestic deployment of the National Guard.

Published: August 31, 2021

In June 2020, former-Pres­id­ent Donald Trump and then-U.S. Attor­ney General William Barr summoned a large force of National Guards­men oper­at­ing under Title 32 of the U.S. Code to Wash­ing­ton, D.C. to police mostly peace­ful protests in the wake of George Floy­d’s killing. They did so against the wishes of D.C.’s elec­ted local govern­ment and without follow­ing the proced­ures estab­lished by Congress in the Insur­rec­tion Act. This unpre­ced­en­ted deploy­ment was only possible because of loop­holes in the Posse Comit­atus Act, the law that normally bars the pres­id­ent from using the milit­ary as a domestic police force. Congress needs to address these loop­holes so that future pres­id­ents cannot repeat this abuse.

Two propos­als currently before the House Armed Services Commit­tee would be a great start. The first is the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act, which would reform the outdated command struc­ture of the D.C. National Guard—and bring it in line with every other National Guard organ­iz­a­tion in the coun­try—by trans­fer­ring command of the D.C. National Guard from the pres­id­ent to D.C.’s mayor. The Act has been included in the text of the 2022 National Defense Author­iz­a­tion Act (NDAA), an annual appro­pri­ations bill that the Commit­tee is now consid­er­ing. The second proposal is an amend­ment to the NDAA that has been put forward by Repres­ent­at­ive Mikie Sher­rill (D-NJ). This amend­ment would require the consent of both the send­ing and receiv­ing juris­dic­tion whenever National Guards­men oper­at­ing under Title 32 are deployed across state lines.

The Bren­nan Center supports the District of Columbia National Guard Home Rule Act’s inclu­sion in the NDAA and urges the House Armed Services Commit­tee to adopt Repres­ent­at­ive Sher­rill’s proposed amend­ment to Title 32.

Coali­tion Letter Urges Congress to Support Changes to Domestic Deploy­ment of the National Guard by The Bren­nan Center for Justice on Scribd