After receiving Attorney General Eric Holder’s letter refusing to rule out the use of drones on American citizens within U.S. borders without due process, Senator Rand Paul has decided to mount a one man, old school filibuster.
“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”
Paul called Holder’s refusal to rule out drone strikes within the United States “more than frightening.”
On Wednesday, Paul elaborated on his concerns: “When I asked the president, can you kill an American on American soil, it should have been an easy answer. It’s an easy question. It should have been a resounding an unequivocal, ‘No.’ The president’s response? He hasn’t killed anyone yet. We’re supposed to be comforted by that. The president says, ‘I haven’t killed anyone yet.’ He goes on to say, ‘And I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might.’ Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that?”
Paul said on the Senate floor, “No American should ever be killed in their house without warrant and some kind of aggressive behavior by them. To be bombed in your sleep? There’s nothing American about that . . . [Obama] says trust him because he hasn’t done it yet. He says he doesn’t intend to do so, but he might. Mr. President, that’s not good enough . . . so I’ve come here to speak for as long as I can to draw attention to something that I find to really be very disturbing.”
“I will not sit quietly and let him shred the Constitution,” Paul added.”No person will be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process,” he said, quoting the Fifth Amendment.
Full on old school filibusters are extremely rare in Washington, but legal. Any Senator can hold the floor for as long as he or she likes, according to the rules, but filibusters are usually done by legislative mechanisms rather than by physically holding the floor.
The record? The Palmetto State’s own Strom Thurmond holds it, filibustering as a Dixiecrat for for 24 hours and 18 minutes against the Civil Rights Act of 1957, according to U.S. Senate records. Of course, he had help from his fellow Democrats, who managed to keep things going for 57 days, filibustering between March 26 and June 19, the day the Civil Rights Act of 1957 passed.
A close second place is held by one of my favorite Senators of all time, New York’s Alfonse D’Amato. He spoke for 23 hours and 30 minutes to stall debate on an important military bill in 1986 that contained an amendment that would have cut off funding for a jet training plane built by a company headquartered in his home state.
The amendment was removed.
It will be interesting to see how Rand Paul does. If it were me, I’d be reading whole sections of William L.Shirer’s “Rise and Fall of The Third Reich” aloud, particularly the parts of about hiow Hitler was democratically elected, and the parts about the ‘emergency’ of the Reichstag Fire that enabled him to shred the German Constitution and take full power.
You go, Senator. Let ‘em have it. And let’s see if any other Republicans have the gonads to help you out on this one.