Early Thursday morning, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) concluded his nearly thirteen hour-long filibuster holding up the confirmation vote of new CIA Director John Brennan. Paul used the filibuster to encourage the Obama administration to answer questions about the government’s drone program used to target American citizens suspected of being terrorists.
Rand Paul is not alone in his concern about the government’s drone program and the assassination of Americans without due process. According to a recent Reason-Rupe poll, 57 percent of Americans say it is unconstitutional for the president of the United States to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists. Thirty-one percent believe it is constitutional. (Mike Riggs writes about these results here.)
Fifty-nine percent of Americans are also concerned the government may abuse its power when it comes to its use of drones to kill American citizens who are terror suspects.
Strong majorities of Republicans (65 percent) and Independents (64) agree it is unconstitutional for the president to order the killing of American citizens who are suspected of being terrorists. In stark contrast, only 44 percent of Democrats agree, while 40 percent believe it is constitutional. This may explain why only one Senate Democrat, Sen. Ron Wyden, joined Republican Senators Flake, Cruz, Rubio, Thune, Lee, Toomey, Johnson, Barrasso, and Scott on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Nevertheless, majorities of all political groups are concerned the government may abuse its power using drones. Sixty-five percent of Republicans are concerned, compared to 53 percent of Democrats and 58 percent of Independents.
Young Americans are also far more likely to say it is unconstitutional for the president to order the killing of American citizens without due process. Eighty-two percent of 18-24 years olds and 62 percent of 25-34 year olds says it’s unconstitutional. However, only about half of those over age thirty-five agree that its unconstitutional while about 35 percent say it is constitutional.
Nationwide telephone poll conducted February 21-25 2013 interviewed 1002 adults on both mobile (502) and landline (500) phones, with a margin of error +/- 3.8%. Columns may not add up to 100% due to rounding. Full poll results found here. Full methodology can be found here.