On Thrusday an amendment authored by Senators Mike Lee (RLC-UT) and Diane Feinstein (D-CA) which alters the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) to protect citizens from arrest without a warrant and guarantees the right to a trial was passed 67-29 by the Senate. This came after an impassioned speech in support by Sen. Rand Paul (RLC-KY) on Wednesday in which he said:
"If you don't have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out? When zealots of the government arrest suspects or radicals without warrants, hold them without trial, deny them access to counsel or admission of bail, we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity.”
Paul had also threatened to put a filibuster hold on the NDAA bill if an attempt was made to pass it with the provisions allowing unconstitutional detention of citizens without a trial included. Since the passage of an earlier version of the NDAA more than a year ago, grassroots groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus have been calling and emailing members of the House and Senate relentlessly expressing opposition to the detention provisions in the bill and it appears that for once our legislative leaders actually listened to the people. Sadly about half of the Republicans in the Senate voted against the amendment.
While the Lee-Feinstein amendment is not as comprehensive as Rand Paul's version which has had trouble passing the Senate, it does address the most fundamental civil liberties concerns with the NDAA. The substandive part of the Amendment reads:
“(b)(1) An authorization to use military force, a declaration of war, or any similar authority shall not authorize the detention without charge or trial of a citizen or lawful permanent resident of the United States apprehended in the United States, unless an Act of Congress expressly authorizes such detention.