WASHINGTON, March 15, 2012—In a stunning display of patriotism and courage, the state of Virginia is attempting to nullify parts of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), specifically the parts that include giving the federal government the power to arrest suspects on simply the suspicion of being a terrorist and indefinitely detaining suspects without a trial.
This bill, HB 1160, was introduced by Delegate Bob Marshall and is intended to “prevent any agency, political subdivision, employee, or member of the military of Virginia from assisting an agency or the armed forces of the United States in the investigation, prosecution, or detainment of a United States citizen in violation of the Constitution of Virginia.”
Virginia is the first state to have a legitimate chance of nullifying these parts of the NDAA under the power of the tenth amendment, and could possibly pave the way for other states to enact similar legislation. In a way, it’s not surprising that Virginia would be the first state to enact a nullification of an unconstitutional law. It is also one of the states that are suing the federal government over Obamacare.
One of the most amazing, and encouraging, aspects of this piece of legislation is that it has huge bipartisan support. The bill passed in the Virginia House of Delegates on February 14th by a vote of 96-4. And just recently, on March 8th, HB 1160 passed the Virginia State Senate by a vote of 37-1. After his bill passed the Senate, Marshall had this to say about the NDAA:
“Congress, by including this provision in a must pass bill affecting our armed forces, made a terrible mistake in empowering this or any future President and the military to arrest and detain American citizens indefinitely, without charges, without the chance to confront their accusers, without legal counsel, and without a trial.”
Many of the activities allowed for under the NDAA run parallel to what Franklin Roosevelt and the federal government did during World War II, when they rounded up over 100,000 Japanese Americans and placed them in internment camps. This is likely the reason that the national executive director of the Japanese American Citizens League wrote a letter in support of Marshall’s bill.
“During World War II the Japanese American community was targeted as ‘suspected enemy aliens’ and by authority of Presidential Executive Order 9066, over 110,000 people were rounded up and put into concentration camps at ten desolate locations under the notion that they could be suspect…Today we face a similar situation. The so-called ‘War on Terror’ has lead to the same kind of hysteria and racist action by government. I can also say that we have lacked the political leadership to identify that this kind of forced indefinite detention is a repeat of what happened during WWII.”
If passed, this bill could have a snowball effect, with other states passing their own laws against these unconstitutional sections of the NDAA. The state of Utah has already passed a bill condemning the NDAA and calls for its repeal. Although the bill in Utah is simply a show of disapproval rather than an actual nullification of federal law, it is an indication that more states may step up against this newfound power that the federal government has created for itself.
The bill’s fate is now in the hands of Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who has yet to sign it and is reported to have reservations about the bill. The good news for freedom lovers is that Marshall’s bill seems to have enough support to override the Governor’s veto.
A critical time has come. Virginia needs to pass this anti-NDAA bill. It doesn’t need to be passed simply to protect civil liberties, but also to lead the way for other states to stand up against unconstitutional laws that infringe upon the rights of individuals and states. This might be our last chance.
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