AUSTIN, Tx., November 14, 2014 – A new Texas bill up for consideration in 2015 would make indefinite detention, as purportedly authorized by the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a criminal act subject to penalties in Texas.

Introduced by Rep. Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), House Bill 165 (HB165), the Texas Liberty Preservation Act, declares unconstitutional three powers claimed by the 2012 NDAA:

  1. Indefinite detention
  2. Prosecution by military tribunals under the law of war for persons apprehended within the United States, and
  3. Transfer of persons apprehended within the United States to foreign jurisdictions

HB165 declares such powers to be dangerous to liberty and a violation of both the state and federal constitutions. It reads, in part:

in authorizing the actions described by Subdivision (5) of this subsection, Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Pub. L. No. 112-81) are inimical to the liberty, security, and well-being of the citizens of the State of Texas by violating:
(A) the Texas Constitution;
(B) the limits of federal power authorized by Article I, Section 8, United States Constitution;
(C) the legal doctrine of Posse Comitatus under 18 U.S.C. Section 1385 by authorizing the armed forces of the United States to police the United States;

As with similar legislation passed in other states, the bill requires full noncompliance with the federal act:

It is the policy of this state to refuse to provide material support for or to participate in any way with the implementation within this state of Sections 1021 and 1022 of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (Pub. L. No. 112-81) or Section 1071(a) of the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 (Pub. L. No. 113-66).  Any act to enforce or attempt to enforce those laws is in violation of this subchapter.

The reference to section 1071 of the 2014 NDAA is in regards to a section of that appropriations bill that some believe will lead to a new surveillance agency under the Department of Defense, with access to unconstitutional records collected by the NSA.

While the prohibition on material support or participation would make it extremely difficult for the federal government to carry out indefinite detention in Texas, HB165 takes it a step further, including criminal charges of up to 1 year in prison and $10,000 in fines for violating the act:

A person who is an official, agent, or employee of the United States or an employee of a corporation providing services to the United States commits an offense if the person enforces or attempts to enforce a statute, a rule or regulation, an order, or any law of the United States in violation of this subchapter.

An offense under Subsection
(a) is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by confinement for a term not to exceed one year, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both the confinement and the fine.

Larson introduced a similar bill in the 2013 session, but after being held for a long time in a surprisingly unfriendly committee on Federalism and Fiscal Responsibility, House leadership refused to allow the bill to come up for debate and vote on the House floor.

Supporters say that the bill faces an uphill battle, but strong grassroots pressure is likely to pressure leadership to at least give the bill a floor debate and vote.

TAKE ACTION in TEXAS

Contact your state representative, ask them to support HB165:  http://www.fyi.legis.state.tx.us/Home.aspx

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