Rand Paul Stands Up for Civil Liberties Again. And Against David Barron


"I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat," Paul will say on the Senate floor Wednesday. "I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a President is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court."

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose filibuster last year against the nomination of Barack Obama's pick to head the CIA won plaudits from across the political spectrum, is pushing back against the nomination of David Barron to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

Update: Here is video of Rand Paul.

As Paul explained in The New York Times, Barron authored at least two memos justifying the killing by the U.S. government of a U.S. ciitzen abroad. No trial necessary. Paul isn't alone in wanting more information about Barron's role in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC).

I agree with the A.C.L.U. that "no senator can meaningfully carry out his or her constitutional obligation to provide 'advice and consent' on this nomination to a lifetime position as a federal appellate judge without being able to read Mr. Barron's most important and consequential legal writing." The A.C.L.U. cites the fact that in modern history, a presidential order to kill an American citizen away from a battlefield is unprecedented.

The Bill of Rights is clear. The Fifth Amendment provides that no one can be "deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Sixth Amendment provides that "the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury," as well as the right to be informed of all charges and have access to legal counsel. These are fundamental rights that cannot be waived with a presidential pen.

In battle, combatants engaged in war against America get no due process and may lawfully be killed. But citizens not in a battlefield, however despicable, are guaranteed a trial by our Constitution.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), the only Democrat to join Paul's filibuster last year, just finished up a speech on C-SPAN calling for full disclosure of the memos. A Boston Globe report says

Some Democrats, including Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, have expressed public reservations about Barron, prompting the White House to allow all 100 senators to review at least some of the confidential documents Barron wrote. Wyden's spokeswoman said Tuesday that he had not yet taken a position on the nomination.

Barron's legal opinion was related to the potential use of deadly force against Americans in counterterrorism operations. It is believed to be the legal basis for the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who allegedly recruited for Al Qaeda in Yemen. Earlier this month, the American Civil Liberties Union called for a delay in the confirmation vote so senators could review related documents.

Update: Here's Wyden's talk on C-SPAN.

Somewhat inexplicably and despite reservations, Wyden is a yes vote on Barron.

Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is confident enough Dems will vote in favor of Barron. Boy, that's great.

Say what you will about most senators, who are really useless when it comes to principled action. Thank you, Sens. Wyden and Paul, for salvaging some shred of dignity for the Senate. And shame on all those who just can't be bothered to stand for something other than cheap partisan advantage. The inability of elected leaders to actually articulate and follow principles is the main reason why people hate politicians. Who can blame them? You don't need to agree with pols all the time, or even any of the time, to be able to respect them. But when they so transparently push partisan agendas that are at odds with their supposed beliefs, well, screw them all.

How is it that the White House, whether run by a Dem or a Rep, can get away with only giving senators just "some of the confidential documents" that a nominee has written? It's bad enough that the Obama admin calls itself the most-transparent regime EVAH even as it withholds all sort of info from us regular people. But to refuse senators full access? That's incredible. As is any senator's willingness to participate in a vote under such circumstances.

Breaking: Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) is now talking about Barron on C-SPAN2, mostly attacking him as a judicial activist.

Also: Read Scott Shackford's take.

NEXT: A. Barton Hinkle: Another Day, Another Cop Shoots a Dog

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  1. Maybe I am not remembering correctly, but I remember the Bush Administration being pretty forthright with the Yo memos. Obama always seems to find a way to be worse than those who came before him. It is one thing to hire political hacks to twist the law to justify what you want to do. It is quite another thing to refuse to even release the memos where they did such.

    If you refuse to release the memo, what the hell is the point of having him write it?

    1. What’s the point of teenagers hiding their porn from mom?

    2. Internal guidance and/or spitballing? I really don’t know.

  2. The nuclear option means even few such objections will mean anything in practice? Will questionable nominations be held up when the GOP takes the Senate next year?

    1. Here is what it means, it means that Democrats will actually have to vote yes or no on this kind of shit and face the consequences. The filibuster allowed them to have it both ways. They would tell one side of the issue they supported it but those damned Republicans just wouldn’t let them have a fair vote while also being able to claim they never actually voted for it. Filibusters provide a lot of cover to the majority on controversial issues. It wasn’t kept around so long just because both sides liked it when they were the minority. It is useful sometimes when you are in the majority too.

      Reid is a craven idiot who doesn’t really give a fuck about the actual prospects of the individual members of his caucus. He only cares about doing anything he can to allow Obama to fuck the country. The nuclear option was not a smart move from any perspective other than “lets grab everything we can before the voters finally kick our sorry asses from power’.

  3. Good for you, Senator Paul.

  4. Whenever Wyden comes up, I’m reminded of an old friend from the past who said he hated the guy’s politics, but voted for him anyway because he had integrity – unlike his opponent, who was just a typical republican stuffed suit.

    Personally I vote for the libertarian candidates, but I’m happy to have Wyden as my senator, despite his numerous progtard stances. He’s actually good on some issues for the right reasons, to the point where he’ll buck his own party. That makes him a rather rare commodity in the senate. This being Oregon, we’re going to be stuck with progtard crap in any event. Might as well get someone who has some redeeming qualities.

    1. I’d put him about 99th on my list for replacement.

    2. I would vote for Wyden. he is at least good on one really important issue. I will take that over throwing my vote away in protest. If you won’t vote for Wyden (assuming his Republican candidate doesn’t share his views on this issue), how can you claim this issue is important? You got what you want and still won’t vote for him. Doing that just says you think the things he disagrees with you on or more important.

    3. Agreed; Not as happy about Merkley, however.

  5. Dear Nevada,

    Harry Reid in 2016. He has to go. Thanks. It would especially delightful if you could just destroy him in the primary for being a giant piece of shit and being completely unprincipled and even shitting on supposedly progressive ideals.


  6. Frankly I’m surprised that Senator Reid could find time in his busy schedule to even be bothered with the nomination of this betrayer of the Constitution. Isn’t he usually occupied with things like rigging government land deals with the BLM for his son?

  7. What a nightmare. I can’t imagine why Obama would nominate this guy, tainted as he is, to such a position.

    Is it that he can’t fathom there would be sincere opposition to it? Is it some kind of quid-pro-quo? Is it just a giant fuck-you gesture to anyone who cares about civil liberties?

    No clue.

  8. I must say I admire Senator Paul’s restraint. Had I been making that statement, the phrase “evil little shyster douchebag who mocks the rule of law” would have been featured prominently.


  9. Wow, I just scrolled down and saw the picture of that little shithead. Most punchable face since Harry Reid.


    1. Makes me think of that kid on Two And A Half Men – just about as bright looking.

  10. I’m actually shocked Senator Wyden is voting “yes”. He usually has principles when it comes to these issues. Sigh…

  11. I really wish our fearless leaders had a little more concern about the Law of our Land. This isn’t Jack Baur 24 TV drama. This is the idea that the government can shwack you if your a bad person without a trial. What’s ironic is we are willing to let people who came to our country illegally enjoy our rights, but would snatch them from a citizen. (Not an immigration statement, just a laws on the book statement)

    My favorite morale patch comes to mind: “Because fuck you, that’s why”

  12. Where does the word “citizen” appear in the 5th or 6th Amendments?

    Oh right, they don’t. They apply to the relationship the US Federal government has with all people.

    Is the argument being made that anyone living under US power who is not a citizen – like my husband – has no rights? If so, it may be time to move.

  13. Rand is an opportunist and populist to the “enth” degree.

    I sorta hope he gets elected Prez so you can all see how the words do not reflect the actions.

    Talk is cheap. So is his vote when he knows it won’t make a difference.

    Leadership is different.

    “Ayn Rand ? ‘Abortion is a moral right?which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved”

    “Paul is opposed to abortion, even in cases of rape or incest. During his senate primary campaign in 2009, he said that he believed abortion should also be illegal in cases in which the woman’s life is at risk from the pregnancy, and he called for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution to ban all abortions”

    Of course, that was so he could get ELECTED. Now that it matters less, he changed it to:

    “current law is far too biased towards the pro-abortion view”
    and he also said:
    “Certainly not an all-out ban”

    He’s the LEAD sponsor of the “life at conception” act…..talk about BIG GUBMENT. Once he gets that passed, he’s come up with the “life at production of Sperm” act and regulate your testes.

    He is, unfortunately, the worse kind of hypocrite. I don’t think even he knows what he stands for other than what sounds good at the moment.

    1. Uh, abortion might not be as high on the libertarian priority list, or as inciteful of emotional frothing here, as you seem to think it is.

      I’d much rather vote for a congresscreature who actually talks like they have an brain, integrity, and courage, and then optimistically see what what happens when they’re in office (Paul’s term has been exceptional on most fronts, BTW) – than vote for someone who espouses bad ideas just because I’m sure that they mean it. Which is about all you get on either side in most other cases.

      I don’t agree with Rand Paul on some issues, but he’s better than most others. If I only voted for perfect candidates, I’d never vote.

      1. That’s unwise IMHO – to vote for someone because of how they talk.

        You are making my point. He’s a populist. It doesn’t matter what he says about any issue….it’s like me saying I can fly the space shuttle…and saying it in a deep voice with confidence.

        His record is clear. He has already become a chameleon to fit whatever people expect of him.

        I do agree with you about no perfect candidates – which is why I abhor someone who stands for nothing other than rhetoric.

        Whether we like it or not, high office in this country (Prez, etc.) is about getting along with people….all over the world. It’s not about saying what you think pleases some ideologues.

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