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Raising our voices to defend Due Process

This week, I launched a petition on CREDO Mobilize challenging the judicial nomination of Justice Department lawyer David Barron to a lifetime seat on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. As I write in the petition:

Assassinating Americans citizens without charge, trial, and the presentation of evidence is unconstitutional — and advancing a legal justification for the executive branch to do so renders Mr. Barron unfit for the federal judiciary.

The Obama administration’s targeted killing program has long remained shrouded in secrecy. We do know, however, that the administration uses armed drones to kill people, including Americans, who are suspected — but never proven — of supporting terrorism.... 

During the Bush Administration, President Obama spoke eloquently on the Senate floor about the vital importance of due process – even for accused terrorists. While President Obama and many others in his administration have changed their tune since entering office, I and many other Americans continue to believe in the U.S. Constitution and the due process it guarantees....

Without access to Mr. Barron’s legal analysis claiming the authority to assassinate Americans without trial, it is impossible for the American people to know whether Mr. Barron actually understands the law.
 
It is clear from the conclusion that he does not. Killing Americans who have neither been charged with, nor convicted of, a crime represents a dramatic departure from the rule of law as understood for centuries. The U.S. Constitution does not allow our executive branch to presume the roles of judge, jury and executioner. Judicial constraints on the power to arbitrarily assassinate are a bedrock of our legal system, secured in the Magna Carta nearly a millennium ago....
 
Whether or not you trust President Obama and his advisers to make that type of decision, imagine a future President Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin having the power to kill Americans at will. We can’t allow that to happen.

[Update: Despite over 25,000 diverse Americans joining me -- and voices from conservative Senators to progressive bloggers criticizing the nominee for failing to check executive abuses when he had the chance at the Office Legal Counsel -- the Senate voted 53 to 45 to confirm Mr. Barron to a lifetime seat on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Notably, his confirmation would have been rejected under longstanding filibuster rules recently changed by the Senate. 

I took some heat from longtime allies over my public position on the Barron nomination, but feel vindicated by my friend Bill Moore's analysis of the paradox it presented.]

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