After an impassioned speech about protecting the Constitution from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in a late-night session, the upper chamber approved an amendment to protect U.S. citizens from the president’s indefinite detention powers.
The amendment by Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) aims to correct the broad authority given to the president in last year’s defense authorization bill. Feinstein’s attempt to amend that bill failed, but this year’s amendment passed 67-29.
With pictures of the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II propped behind her, Feinstein last night noted the bipartisan support for the amendment — and stressed that the detention powers in last year’s bill never even received a hearing in the Judiciary, Intelligence, or Armed Services committees.
Before the vote, Paul reminded his colleagues “that our oath of office says that we will defend the Constitution against enemies, foreign and domestic.”
“The freedom we fight for is the Bill of Rights, it is the Constitution. If we have careless disregard for the Constitution, what are we fighting for?” Paul said.
He formally objected to Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R-S.C.) comments on the amendment, in which he said, “The American people don’t want to close Guantanamo Bay, which is an isolated military controlled facility, to bring these crazy bastards that want to kill us all to the United States.”
“I will tell you since I know this record of this debate will be widely read, that I want to make former objection to the crazy bastards standard. I don’t really think that if we’re going to have a crazy bastard standard that we shouldn’t have a right to trial by jury, because if we’re going to lock up all the crazy bastards, for goodness sakes – would you not want if you’re a crazy bastard to have a right to trial by jury?” Paul said.
“I think this is a very serious debate and should not be made frivolous,” Paul continued. “This is an ancient right that we have defended for 800 years, for goodness sakes. To say that habeas is due process is absurd. It’s the beginning of due process. If you don’t have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution.”
“I am pleased to see a large bipartisan majority of the Senate support basic protections for all Americans,” said Lee after the vote. “Once again we prove that increasing security does not have to result in diminished liberty. Today we have reaffirmed our constitutional values and shown we are committed to being both free and safe.”