There is a saying that history repeats itself.

H.1428 “Commonwealth of Massachusetts Liberty Preservation Act” is a prime example of that adage. This bill, introduced by Representative John D. Keenan, is reminiscent of the Massachusetts Personal Liberty Act of 1855, which protected the right of runaway slaves to a writ of habeas corpus and from being forcibly removed from the state.

In 1855, Massachusetts laid out a clear case why the Federal Fugitive Slave laws were unconstitutional and those same reasons apply to the new threat to our liberties posed by the federal government. Justified as a security measure, the federal government under the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) allows the military, under orders of the President, to detain forcibly anyone in the United States without charges, lawyer, trial or a writ of habeas corpus indefinitely.

The text of H.1428 lists multiple provisions in the U.S. and Massachusetts Constitutions that limit the federal government from exercising powers it does not have. Here is a list, but you can go to the bill itself to see how each applies:

1. The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution
2. Article IV of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
3. Article VI, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution
4. Article I Section 9, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution
5. Article XXVIII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
6. The First Amendment of the United States Constitution
7. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution
8. Article XIV of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
9. The Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution
10. Article XII of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
11. The Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution
12. The Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution

A section from this bill goes on to state:

“The enactment into law by the United States Congress of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, Public Law Number 112-81, is inimical to the liberty, security and well-being of the people of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, and was adopted by the United States Congress in violation of the limits of federal power in United States Constitution”

“The indefinite detention, prosecution according to the law of war, and transfer to a foreign jurisdiction of persons as provided for by Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 are in direct contravention to the limits on federal power as specified in Section 2 of this act and are illegal within the boundaries of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts;”

Then the bill also lays out penalties for violation of Massachusetts citizens’ rights:

State employees who  violate “shall be guilty of a class A misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for not more than six (6) months or by a fine not exceeding Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00) or both such fine and imprisonment.”

Whereas, “Any official, agent, or employee of the government of the United States, or employee of a corporation providing services to the government of the United States that enforces or attempts to enforce an act, order, law, statute, rule, or regulation of the government of the United States in violation of … this act shall be guilty of a class B felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than one (1) year, or a fine of not more than Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00), or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

In 1855, the penalty was far more sever for state or federal agents that violated that liberty protection act:

Violators “shall be punished by a fine of not less than one thousand, nor more than five thousand dollars, and by imprisonment in the State Prison not less than one, nor more than five years.”

Do the Legislators in Massachusetts value the freedoms of their citizens less now than those statesman who occupied their positions in 1855?

It seems that maybe they do, because this bill has been languishing in the Joint Committee on the Judiciary for over a month. It is time to remind committee members of their proud heritage with your calls, emails and if you can personal visits to ask them to report the bill out of committee favorably.


1. Contact the chairs of the Joint Committee on the Judiciary.  Ask them kindly to schedule a hearing on HB1428 – and to support the legislation.

Sen. Katherine Clark: 617-722-1206
Rep. Eugene L. O’Flaherty 617-722-2396 Gene.O’

2. Contact the other members of the committee.  Strongly, but respectfully, urge them to vote YES on HB1428

Sen. Gale D. Candaras 617-722-1291
Rep. Christopher M. Markey 617-722-2396
Sen. William N. Brownsberger 617-722-1280
Sen. John F. Keenan 617-722-1494
Sen. Patricia D. Jehlen  617-722-1578
Sen. Richard J. Ross 617-722-1555
Rep. Colleen M. Garry 617-722-2380
Rep. Bruce J. Ayers 617-722-2230
Rep. Carlos Henriquez 617-722-2396
Rep. Jeffrey N. Roy 617-722-2400
Rep. Sheila C. Harrington 617-722-2305
Rep. Kevin J. Murphy 617-722-2877
Rep. Sean Curran 617-722-2263
Rep. Claire D. Cronin 617-722-2130
Rep. Daniel B. Winslow 617-722-2060

3. Thank the sponsor of the bill.
Even though this bill was filed as a petition from a citizen, thank the sponsor for introducing this bill. The sponsor may not necessarily support this bill, but introduced this bill on behalf of a resident of Massachusetts. Please tell the sponsor why this bill is important to you and why he should vote in favor of this bill if it reaches the full house.

Rep. John D. Keenan 617-722-2263

4.  Encourage your local community to take action as well.  Present the Liberty Preservation Act to your city county, your town council, or your county commissioners.  Various local governments around the country are already passing similar resolutions and ordinances.  Local legislative action present a great way to strengthen a statewide campaign against NDAA indefinite detention

Model legislation here:

5.  Share this information widely.  Please pass this along to your friends and family.  Also share it with any and all grassroots groups you’re in contact with around the state.  Please encourage them to email this information to their members and supporters.


If you live anywhere outside of Massachusetts, please contact your own legislators regarding anti-NDAA legislation. If none has been introduced in your state, you can email them The Liberty Preservation Act model legislation.

Track the status of NDAA nullification in states around the country HERE

William Kennedy

The 10th Amendment

“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”



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