Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul threatened again Wednesday to filibuster the National Defense Authorization Act unless the Senate votes on an amendment guaranteeing the right to trial by jury for American citizens accused of terrorism.
“In fact, I’m appalled that anyone would think that we could arrest anyone in our country without charging them and giving them a right to a trial,” Paul said in a speech on the Senate floor. “It seems so fundamentally un-American.”
The controversy stems from a provision critics have interpreted as allowing the indefinite detention of terrorism suspects. Its supporters say it only applies to those who have waged war against the United States. (RELATED: Ron Paul teams up with top Democrats to tell president he’s not above the law)
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee have sponsored an amendment that invokes the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution in these cases.
“Sen. Feinstein and I have worked closely together over the course of the past year to craft what we believe is a very prudent course in protecting both our nation and our liberties at the same time,” Lee said.
“Today, we will either affirm the right to trial by jury or restrict it,” Paul continued. “Today we will vote to affirm the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution, or we will spurn it.”
“A habeas hearing isn’t the end of due process,” Paul said “It’s the beginning.”
Paul, Feinstein, and Lee failed to amend the NDAA to restrict the detention provisions last year. President Barack Obama signed the NDAA into law.
“This is not a war that is going to end, nor is it a right that they will suspend temporarily,” Paul said Wednesday. “They are asking you to relinquish your right to trial by jury for the rest of this limitless war.”
Paul has proposed his own amendment to the bill using language from the Sixth Amendment to the Constitution.
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