cross-posted from the Maine Tenth Amendment Center
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) has been a heated topic of discussion across the Internet, while an ongoing media blackout continues. To their credit however, Fox News asked a question regarding the law at a recent Republican Presidential Debate. While former Senator Rick Santorum noted that U.S. citizens detained do have a right to have their day in court and Congressman Ron Paul stated the legislation was a breach of the judicial system, former Governor Mitt Romney gave President Barack Obama an endorsement of faith. Stating that he doesn’t think President Obama “will abuse this power,” he also said he would’ve signed the law.
And there were boos. But why? Shouldn’t all Americans favor locking up terrorists who wish to do harm to us?
If only the answer that simple. The trouble that arises for any member of the U.S. Government is that inconvenient thing called the law, which is supposed to be made pursuant to the Constitution. Article 6 clearly states that this document and all pursuant laws will be “supreme law of the land,” thus implying laws that are made in direct contradiction are null and void. Under the Constitution, citizens are granted the right to due process of law and cannot be stripped of that right without going to trial.
Section 1021 of the National Defense Authorization Act states:
“[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
1021 (E), an amendment added by Senator Diane Feinstein, adds however:
“Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.”
The amendment by Sen. Feinstein is often cited in refuting the concern that American citizens could be detained indefinitely. Congressman Justin Amash (R-Michigan) however, refuted that claim in a Facebook post titled “The Truth About The New Detainee Policy in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).” He notes:
“The key to subsection 1021(e) is its claim that sec. 1021 does not ‘affect existing law or authorities’ relating to the detention of persons arrested on U.S. soil. If the President’s expansive view of his own power were in statute, that statement would be true. Instead, the section codifies the President’s view as if it had always existed, authorizing detention of “persons” regardless of citizenship or where they are arrested. It then disingenuously says the bill doesn’t change that view.”
Rep. Amash then goes on to note that Sen. Feinstein had introduced a separate amendment that would state the section “does not include the authority to detain a citizen of the United States without trial until the end of hostilities.” While the former amendment passed 99-1, the latter amendment failed 44-55.
While both of Maine’s Representatives to the House, Mike Michaud and Chellie Pingree, voted against the legislation, both Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe voted in favor.
The United States Congress has a strong history, especially as of recent, of strengthening the centralization of government and blatantly ignoring the Constitution. While Rep. Amash leads the fight on the Federal level, he is still among a minority in Washington D.C. that believes citizens are not criminals. With our current members unwilling to change their position and do the job they were elected to do, it would take election cycles over many years to replace them all and change the tide. Unfortunately, time is not something we can afford to waste.
“The rightful remedy” is nullification, as stated by principle author of the Declaration of Independence and later third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. “Father of the Constitution” James Madison also once stated it was the duty of the States to interpose when powers beyond the Constitution’s limits were taken on by the Federal Government. The purpose for this was not to create a state of disarray among levels of government, but rather to maintain the balance. Under the Constitution, the Federal Government is given a very specific set of enumerated powers, while all else, unless specifically prohibited, is left to the States.
Thus, it is not only the right of the State, but their responsibility, to nullify the National Defense Authorization Act. The State Legislature and Governor must come together to make it known who has the power, and that they will protect Maine citizens’ rights. Sheriffs also must make it known that they will not allow unlawful arrests within their jurisdiction.
The Maine Tenth Amendment Center will pursue advancing nullification in Maine, with a push to get legislation introduced in Augusta and further spread the word about the tyranny rising in Washington D.C. A Facebook page has been created for this, “Mainers Against The NDAA“; Please “like” and spread the word.
We will stand by the Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions.