Yesterday marked a big win for liberty, productive bipartisanship, and your 800-year old right to trial-by-jury.
Thursday night, the Senate passed an amendment, authored by Senators Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and Mike Lee (R-UT), which altered the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to protect citizens from warrant-less arrest and preserve the right to jury trial. The amendment passed 67-29.
Amendment No. 3018 bridged the aisle, knitting political fellowship between "freedom caucus" conservatives and civil-libertarians on the left. For his part, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) gave two impassioned speeches, both before and after passage. Here's a hint where he stood on the matter:
If you don’t have a right to trial by jury, you do not have due process. You do not have a Constitution. What are you fighting against and for if you throw the Constitution out? If you throw the Sixth Amendment out? It’s in the body of our Constitution. It’s in the Bill of Rights. It’s in every constitution in the United States. For goodness sakes, the trial by jury has been a long-standing and ancient and noble right. For goodness sakes, let’s not scrap it now.
Pretty simple, right? Apparently not. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has kept busy crafting his contra opus that hinges on indefinite detention, without trial, for Americans suspected of ties to terrorist organizations or belligerents –writ large – on American soil.
Parroting Adam Serwer of Mother Jones, it strikes me that Graham’s disgust with “government overreach” is often reserved for Obamacare. Fair enough. But offensive as it may be, it pales in comparison to an act of Congress that allows the Feds to deny due process and jury trial – as Sen. Paul remarked a legal presumption dating back to the Magna Carta.
I hear you. And I’ll remind you (and Sen. Graham) that American courts have regularly succeeded in prosecuting terrorists, both foreign and domestic. More importantly, controversial invocations of the PATRIOT Act only hint at the breadth of non-terrorist, alleged future-crimes the government is capable of imagining. Erase your right to a trial by jury, add a dash of “indefinite detention” and we’re stuck living in a potential police state.
In a country where you’re more likely to be struck and killed by lightning than by a terrorist (jihadi, or otherwise) I’m regularly astonished by our general apathy toward the protection of civil liberties. Big government doesn’t just make you buy health insurance.
Anyway, big win for us Americans who refuse to take our daily dose of fear from the political dinosaurs still residing in the Senate.