The California State Senate on September 3 unanimously approved a bill to severely limit the federal government’s unconstitutional power to indefinitely detain citizens of the Golden State under provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
By a vote of 37-0, state senators expressed bipartisan support of the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus. The measure’s successful passage by both houses of the state legislature (the state assembly passed the bill by a vote of 71-1) is a victory for civil liberties and a remarkable demonstration of the ability of lawmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum to work together.
The act — the California Liberty Preservation Act (AB 351) — will now go to Governor Jerry Brown for his signature or veto.
Originally sponsored by State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a conservative Republican (now running for governor), the bill’s senate sponsor was one of that body’s “most liberal lawmakers,” Mark Leno.
"Indefinite detention, by its very definition, means that we are abrogating, suspending, just throwing away the basic foundations of our Constitution and of our nation," Leno said.
After being warned by some of his fellow Democrats that siding with Donnelly was tantamount to political suicide, Leno stood firm in defense of liberty.
"It doesn't matter where one finds oneself on the political spectrum," he said. "These two sections of this national defense act are wrong, unconstitutional and never should have been included."
Grassroots support for the act comes from a broad, politically diverse coalition, as well.
AB 351 is backed by the Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety, the Bill of Rights Defense Committee, the Tenth Amendment Center, the California American Civil Liberties Union, San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu, the Libertarian Party of California, and the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors.
Specifically, if enacted, the bill would shield from federal assault several fundamental constitutionally guaranteed civil liberties, “including the right of habeas corpus, the right to due process, the right to a speedy and public trial, and the right to be informed of criminal charges brought against him or her.”
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