Germany coalition to amend constitution allowing military to aid police in emergencies

[JURIST] Officials from Germany's ruling coalition announced [CDU press release, in German] Monday that they would draft an amendment to the German constitution to allow the military to aid local police forces during emergencies. Under Article 35 of the German Basic Law [text, PDF], the government may deploy the military domestically only if a natural disaster or accident seriously affects more than one German state. The proposed amendment would still strictly control domestic deployment of the military but would allow such deployment in a wider range of emergencies. Officials from the opposition Left Party criticized the move [statement, in German]:

With the agreement to change Article 35 of the Basic Law, [the coalition] steps on the legacy of parliamentary advice. ... The parliament tried 60 years ago to incorporate the teachings from the time of fascism, but the coalition today wants to use the German Federal Armed Forces in the interior based on an abstract terrorism danger. The Left maintains ... [t]he regulations of Article 35 of the Basic Law are completely sufficient.
The coalition plans to draft the amendment as soon as possible and then forward it to the Cabinet [official website, English version] for consideration. Deutsche Welle has more. AP has additional coverage.

In the United States, the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 [text] traditionally bars US federal soldiers and National Guard troops under federal control are from conducting domestic law enforcement on US soil. In 2006, President George W. Bush signed legislation [PL 109-364 text, PDF] that, in part, amended the Insurrection Act of 1807 [text] to allow the armed forces to "restore public order and enforce the laws of the United States when, as a result of a natural disaster, epidemic, or other serious public health emergency, terrorist attack or incident" if the president determined certain conditions exist. The amendments were made after Bush suggested [JURIST report] following Hurricane Katrina [JURIST news archive] that the Pentagon, rather than state and local agencies, should be in charge of the response to disasters. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and other critics sponsored legislation [press release] in 2007 to repeal the amendments, which Leahy said "subvert[ed] sound policies for dealing with emergency situations that keep our Governors and other locally-elected officials in the loop when they are having to deal with disasters that affect the people they represent." The Insurrection Act amendments were repealed by the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 [text, PDF], which Bush signed [White House press release] in January.


 

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