Rand Paul to Force Senate Vote on NDAA Jury Trial Amendment

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has put consideration of the 2013 fiscal defense authorization bill on hold as he demands a vote on his amendment to restore jury trial rights to American citizens detained under the NDAA. Photo: AP Images

DALLAS, November 15, 2012 — Congress has been in session all day and, as Mark Twain would warn, “no man’s life, liberty, or property is safe.” Fortunately for Americans concerned about civil liberty, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has made some ambitious plans to force a vote on an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, and hopes to restore the right to trial by jury for American citizens detained under charges of terrorism.

The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is a federal law that is passed every year, specifying the budget and expenditures of the US Department of Defense, although each year’s act also includes other provisions. The explosive 2011-2012 NDAA bill included a wildly unpopular clause in Section 1021 which provided for the indefinite detention without trial of American citizens judged to be involved in terrorism or “belligerent acts” against the US.

Both Rand Paul and his father Ron Paul have been vocal opponents of the 2011-2012 NDAA bill. Earlier this week, the younger Paul spoke out against the detention provision in a video, expressing his view that the nightmare reality of George Orwell’s dystopian 1984 is unfolding before our eyes.

In the video entitled, “Is 1984 Now?,” Paul referred to the Senate vote on the NDAA. “Amendments were offered to say that no US citizen could be detained without jury trial,” he explained.  “The senate voted 55 to 45 to allow indefinite detention of US citizens without jury trial. We have become Orwellian without even knowing it.”

According to a report from Roll Call, Senator Paul is planning to introduce an amendment that would give American citizens in military detention the right to a fair trial with a jury of peers and the right to confront the witnesses against them.

The amendment reads,

“A citizen of the United States who is captured or arrested in the United States and detained by the Armed Forces of the United States pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force (Public Law 107–40) shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

Roll Call reports Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), and Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain are working behind the scenes to limit debate on the sprawling 2013 NDAA in order to ensure that it receives floor time during the lame-duck session.

Sen. McCain, who has opposed Sen. Paul’s initiatives on the floor of the Senate before, stated, “Sen. Paul has some demands, as usual.”

Paul responded on his official Facebook page, saying, “Yes, I do. Follow the constitution. Stop indefinite detention. My amendment simply puts the language of the 6th Amendment into the NDAA. That is apparently not acceptable to some of my colleagues.”

In his video that was released Tuesday, Paul lamented, “The right to trial by jury was lost not in some grand battle, no cinematic final stand, but with a whimper and barely a murmur. It took hundreds of years to force monarchs to allow trial by jury and now it is vanishing with barely a fight.”

Knowing his colleagues as he does, Paul must certainly understand that his amendment to restore the right they voted to do away with just months ago will meet with heavy resistance on the Senate floor.  However, he may be counting on the widespread public hostility which has been unleashed towards the 2011-2012 NDAA bill to swing some senators over to his side.

Regardless of the result of this vote, it is to be hoped that American citizens will be tuning in to C-Span over the next few days to watch the proceedings in the Senate.  If nothing else, at least they will be able to find out whether their own senators stand with them on the side of liberty or against them on the side of legislated tyranny. 


A history buff, self-taught artist, and enthusiastic autodidact, Bryana brings her always politically incorrect and usually passionate views about politics and the theory of government to her readers. In addition to writing for the TWTC, she also writes for The College Conservative and maintains the official High Tide Journal at www.thehightide.com. You can also find her on twitter at @_Bryana_Johnson and on facebook.


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Bryana Johnson

Passionate about liberty, and the theory of government, Bryana serves as the vice president of a local political club and reports on political happenings around the globe.
 
In addition to her political activities, Bryana has won prizes in multiple poetry contests and her first poetry collection, Having Decided To Stay, was released in 2012. She writes regularly about the good life, literature and the world’s great Lover over at www.bryanajohnson.com. You can follow her on twitter at @_Bryana_Johnson and on facebook. 

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