Bill of Rights
Last month, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) made an impressive, 13-hour stand against the Obama Administration’s domestic drones policy. The Department of Justice had made a tepid legal case for drone strikes against American citizens who are merely suspected of being a terrorist. Attorney General Eric Holder later said that a president could conduct drone strikes on American citizens suspected of terrorist activities inside the United States.
Paul objected to the notion. “I rise today for the principle,” Paul said during the filibuster. “The principle is one that as Americans we have fought long and hard for and to give up on that principle, to give up on the Bill of Rights, to give up on the Fifth Amendment protection that says that no person shall be held without due process, that no person shall be held for a capital offense without being indicted.”
Holder eventually relented his comments, acknowledging that a president doesn’t have the authority to kill an American citizen on American soil, and the coverage of the filibuster boosted Paul’s profile and added to the speculation that he would seek the Republican nomination in 2016. He would go on to win the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) straw poll just days after giving a dynamic speech in which he essentially laid out a platform for the future of the Republican Party.
In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing, there are new calls from a host of politicians who want Americans to give up their liberties. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and John McCain (R-AZ) were among the first to say that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the alleged bomber who was apprehended on Friday night, should be held as an “enemy combatant” and thus denied his constitutional right to due process.
Michael Bloomberg agrees. During a press conference on Monday, the New York City Mayor said that Americans should be willing to sacrifice their liberties — including their privacy — on the alter of security:
In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday the country’s interpretation of the Constitution will “have to change” to allow for greater security to stave off future attacks.
“The people who are worried about privacy have a legitimate worry,” Mr. Bloomberg said during a press conference in Midtown. “But we live in a complex word where you’re going to have to have a level of security greater than you did back in the olden days, if you will. And our laws and our interpretation of the Constitution, I think, have to change.”
“Look, we live in a very dangerous world. We know there are people who want to take away our freedoms. New Yorkers probably know that as much if not more than anybody else after the terrible tragedy of 9/11,” he said.
“We have to understand that in the world going forward, we’re going to have more cameras and that kind of stuff. That’s good in some sense, but it’s different from what we are used to,” he said.
Free Press is holding its National Conference for Media Reform next week. The conference agenda describes the Internet as “central” to freedom of expression, which is how all mass media technologies have been described since the invention of the printing press ushered in the mass communications era. Despite recognizing that the Internet is a mass media technology, Free Press does not believe the Internet should be accorded the same constitutional protections as other mass media technologies. Like so many others, Free Press has forgotten that the dangers posed by government control of the Internet are similar to those posed by earlier mass media technologies. In a stunning reversal of the concepts embodied in the Bill of Rights, Free Press believes the executive and legislative branches of government are the source of protection for the freedom of expression. In their view, “Internet freedom means net neutrality.”
The conservative trio who held up John Brennan’s confirmation to the CIA for 13 hours and exposed the White House’s drones policy could be at it again when the Senate takes up gun control measures next month. It may not be a “talking filibuster” like it was the earlier this month, but it could certainly throw a wrench in Senate Democrats’ plans.
According to Politico, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY) will today deliver a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) stating that they will oppose a procedural motion on any legislation aimed at tightening gun control regulations:
Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Mike Lee are threatening to filibuster gun-control legislation, according to a letter they plan to hand-deliver to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s office on Tuesday.
“We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions,” the three conservatives wrote in a copy of the signed letter obtained by POLITICO.
Though they don’t use the word “filibuster” in the letter, the conservatives are leaving no doubt that they would filibuster on an initial procedural question — the motion to proceed.
On Monday, Sean Hannity talked with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) about his exchange last week with Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), during which he asked the fierce gun control advocate if she would support banning certain books that maybe deemed dangerous or contain explicit messages. Feinstein didn’t react well to the line of question, angrily stating that she’d served on the Senate Judiciary Committee for 20 years and didn’t need a lecture.
In a calm manner, Cruz explained that he appreciated her “sincerity and passion,” but noted that she didn’t answer the question. Feinstein fired back, “The answer is obvious – no.”
Cruz, who served as a clerk for then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist, told Hannity that more of his colleagues should question what Congress does. “For a long time, a whole bunch of Democrats and, unfortunately, even some Republicans have been passing laws in this body without even asking where the basis is in the Constitution,” said Cruz. “And I think the Constitution should be the starting point for everything Congress does.”
Hannity asked Cruz about the First Amendment analogy he used with Feinstein. Cruz explained that his question was based in the text of the Constitution that refers to the “right of the people.”
“The reason is if you look at the text of the Constitution — and I always think the text of the Constitution should be the starting point — the Second Amendment provides the ‘right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed,’” noted Cruz. “And the point I made in my question is that language — the ‘right of the people’ — is a term of art that the framers of the Constitution used in other places in the Constitution.”
In case you missed it, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave fiery, red meat keynote speech last night at CPAC. He started off by talking about Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, noting that his participation in it was the first time he’d spoke on the Senate floor. He responded to Sen. John McCain’s post-filibuster comments, in which the Arizona Senator called them “wacko birds.” Sen. Cruz declared, “If standing for liberty and standing for the Constitution makes you a ‘wacko bird,’ then count me a proud wacko bird.”
Noting the shift in the narrative over the last few weeks, Sen. Cruz told CPAC, “We’re winning right now.” He then went on to discuss the need to repeal ObamaCare, and slammed Senate Democrats for unanimously voting to maintain funding the law.
Sen. Cruz outlined two things that Republicans need to do. First, Sen. Cruz said, is “Defend the Constitution.” Liberty is under assault from every direction.” He knocked Senate Democrats — with the exception of Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — for sitting out Sen. Paul’s filibuster. Sen. Cruz defended the First Amendment, noting campaign finance laws are pushed by politicians who don’t want to be held accountable for their actions, and Second Amendment. Sen. Cruz defended due process and called for repeal of the NDAA and criticized the indefinition detention provision of the law.
In what was likely one of the most anticipated speeches of the weekend, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who raised concerns about President Barack Obama’s drones policy last Wednesday during a 13-hour filibuster, offered conservatives a new brand of conservatism.
Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” played as Sen. Paul took the podium in an electric atmosphere where half the auidence was standing as a nod to the #StandWithRand theme. He noted that he only had 10 minutes to speak. “But just in case, I brought 13 hours worth of information,” Sen. Paul said as he held up two large binders to rousing applause. “I also came with a message for the President. A message that is loud and clear. A message that doesn’t mince words,” he added.
“Don’t drone me, bro!” someone shouted from the audience Before he went back into his speech, Sen. Paul replied, “Thats not exatly what I was thinking. However, I may have distilled my 13-hour speech into three words.”
“The message to the President is that no one person gets decide the law. No one person gets to decide your guilt or innocence,” he said. “My question to the President was about more than just killing American citizens on American soil. My question was about presidential power has limits.”
Sen. Paul hit on President Obama’s civil liberties record. “If we destroy our enemy but lose what defines our freedom in the process, have we really won,” he asked. “If we allow one man to charge Americans as enemy combatants and indefinitely detain or drone them, then what exactly is it that our brave young men and women are fighting for?”
“[T]he powers of government must be restrained. They’ve got to be restrained in terms of what they do in administering government programs, they need to be restrained as far as how much money they take from the American people, and they need to be restrained in terms of how much they interfere with the liberty of individual Americans.” — Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT)
Back in 2010, conservatives trained their focus on Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT), who had positioned himself over the years as a big government Republican. Bennett had backed billions in corporate welfare for private companies, including the TARP bailout, and supported a healthcare proposal that was considered by some to be worse than ObamaCare.
Bennett was unable to gain enough support during the 2010 Utah GOP convention to win the nomination, setting the stage for a primary between Tim Bridgewater and Mike Lee.
Lee would go on to edge out his primary opponent thanks to his strong constitutional and fiscally conservative message and support from grassroots organizations, and he easily defeated his Democratic opponent in the historic 2010 mid-term election.
Rand Paul’s epic filibuster was bound to draw some criticism. I’m sure he didn’t expect it from his own side of the aisle though. John McCain and Lindsey Graham took aim at the Kentucky Senator earlier today in what looks like a couple of peons scurrying for scraps from President Obama’s table.
Graham put up a poster that showed a body-count comparison of people killed on US soil — al-Qaeda: 2,958, as opposed to none killed by drones. Of course, no one is arguing anything else. In fact, I challenge Graham to provide a single instance of Rand Paul saying anyone in this country has been killed by a drone.
Rand Paul’s mission? To keep it that way.
Former presidential candidate John McCain had the following to say against Sen. Paul:
“Calm down, Senator,” [John] McCain said, in an apostrophe to Paul. “The U.S. government cannot randomly target U.S. citizens.”
McCain, a staunch foreign policy hawk, said Thursday that Paul’s warnings that the U.S. could target “Jane Fonda” or “people in cafes” bring the debate into the “realm of the ridiculous.”
“If Mr. Paul wants to be taken seriously he needs to do more than pull political stunts that fire up impressionable libertarian kids,” McCain said, adding: “I don’t think what happened yesterday is helpful to the American people.”
Well, allow me to tell you to “Calm down, Senator”!
You see, the problem isn’t that he believes President Obama will do such things. It’s that President Obama doesn’t believe that he can’t do things like this. Sens. Graham and McCain are clearly missing the point of what Sen. Paul did last night.
Hours after Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) ended his 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan, President Obama’s nominee to lead the CIA, Attorney General Eric Holder finally responded with a definitive statement. Here is a screenshot of the letter, which was released by Politico.
Sen. Paul — and more importantly, the Constitution and Bill of Rights — just won a big battle in a much larger fight.