A judge who enabled the Obama administration's extrajudicial killing of American citizens is one vote away from a lifetime job interpreting the Constitution. "Senators voted 52 to 43 to advance the nomination of David J. Barron to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit," The Washington Post's Ed O'Keefe reports. "A final confirmation vote is expected on Thursday."
Senator Rand Paul spoke against his nomination on the Senate floor, offering arguments that every legislator should consider before casting their final vote. (I should note that he cited one of my articles while making his case against Barron.) Here are a few key excerpts:
- "I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the president has the power to kill an American citizen not involved in combat and without a trial. I rise to say that there is no legal precedent for killing citizens not involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a president is not worthy of being one step away from the Supreme Court .... the Barron memos at their very core disrespect the Bill of Rights."
- "It is hard to argue for trials for traitors and people who would wish to harm our fellow Americans. But a mature freedom defends the defenseless, allows trials for the guilty, protects even speech of the most despicable nature."
- "I'm not referring to anyone on a battlefield, anyone shooting at our soldiers. Anybody involved in combat gets no due process. What we're talking about is the extraordinary concept of killing Americans who are overseas but not involved in combat. It doesn't mean that they're not potentially—and probably are—bad people. But we're talking about doing it with no accusation, no trial, no charge, no jury .... These memos do not limit drone executions to one man. These memos become historic precedents ..."
- "During the Bush years, most of President Obama's party, including the president himself, argued against the detention—not the killing—they argued against the detention of American citizens without a trial. Yet now, the president and the vast majority of his party will vote for a nominee that advocates the killing of American citizens without trial. How far have we come?"
- "Do we have the courage to denounce drone executions as nothing more than sophisticated vigilantism? How can it be anything but vigilantism? Due process cannot exist in secret."