ConstitutionSome of my friends are big on human rights and individual liberties. Others more theologically inclined point to the fact that man is made in the image of God, and hence, they prefer to use the language of human dignity and worth derived from the fact that men and women carry the imago dei (“the image of God”).  Whatever language you prefer, as Kate Obenshain notes, Senator Rand Paul has been courageous to stand up to the overreaching of the U.S. Attorney General (Eric Holder) and the Obama administration.

Senator Rand Paul’s filibuster on March 6, 2013, was sparked by a letter from Eric Holder responding to the question of whether drone strikes can be used against American citizens on American soil, where Mr. Holder stated:

“. . . it is possible, I suppose, to imagine an extraordinary circumstance in which it would be necessary and appropriate under the constitution and applicable laws of the United States for the president to authorise the military to use lethal force within the territory of the United States.”

In other words, Mr. Holder was stating that the federal government can get rid of judges and juries and declare citizens “enemy combatants,” whereby American citizens on American soil can be killed without a trial. Rand Paul asks, if a politician names you or declares you an enemy combatant, should that take away your due process rights? Charlottesville, Virginia answered the question with a ‘no’ through its legislative actions. It was the first city to pass anti-drone legislation in February of 2013.

I can not imagine how any defense attorney, liberal or conservative would not be outraged at the overreaching of the executive branch and the trampling of our Constitution by the current administration. There should be unity in outrage from both liberals and conservatives. As Senator Rand Paul noted, several liberal senators that were big on civil liberties supported his actions and commended him for his filibuster zeal.

As Kate Obenshain asks:

“When, pray tell, is it “appropriate” to deny an American citizen their right to due process? And if you can kill someone, why is it “infeasible” to capture them? Tougher, perhaps, but impossible?​”

The 5th Amendment right to due process is an important right that American citizens must hold the government accountable to.  We must also hold the government accountable to the concept of separation of powers, which prevents each branch of government from becoming too powerful, protecting the freedoms and liberty of citizens.  I am thankful that Senator Rand Paul held the executive branch’s feet to the fire. Eric Holder’s public change in position is a win for liberty and freedom in America.

photo credit: Jonathan Thorne CC via photopin cc

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