On February 6, the New Hampshire state House of Representatives approved HB 1279, a bill that would protect citizens from being indefinitely detained by the federal government, as permitted by the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Although State Representative Tim O’Flaherty, a Democrat from Hillsborough, is the primary sponsor of the bill, it enjoys the bipartisan support of two other Democrats and two Republicans.
“Some things are so bad that people know it’s time to drop party affiliations and work together. Indefinite detention is really nothing more than kidnapping sanction by law, and the resistance to it from both parties in the state is refreshing news,” said Mike Maherry, communications director for the Tenth Amendment Center.
Specifically, the New Hampshire bill declares that “indefinite detention or transfer to jurisdictions outside the United States of citizens of New Hampshire in particular and citizens of the United States in general are unlawful” pursuant to the state constitution of New Hampshire and the Fourth, Fifth, and Sixth Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.
Then, citing the powers reserved to the states by the Ninth and Tenth Amendments, the bill mandates that:
No New Hampshire agency, political subdivision, or employee of either acting in his or her official capacity, and no member of the New Hampshire national guard under the command of the governor, may knowingly engage in any activity that aids an agency of or the armed forces of the United States in the execution of ... the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012, Public Law 112-81, section 1021, or any other similar law, order, or regulation, in the investigation, arrest, detention, extra-judicial transfer to foreign jurisdictions or entities, military tribunal, or trial, of any person within the United States.
O’Flaherty’s efforts, as well as those of like-minded lawmakers in other states, are critical if the protections afforded by the Bill of Rights are to be preserved and handed down to future generations.
The hour is now late, though. It is vital to remember the history of the enactment of these unconscionable and unconstitutional provisions and to remind lawmakers of their obligation to prevent them from being imposed upon the people they represent.
On December 31, 2011, with the president's signing of that law, the writ of habeas corpus — a civil right so fundamental to Anglo-American common law history that it predates the Magna Carta — is voidable upon the command of the president of the United States. The Sixth Amendment right to counsel is also revocable at his will.
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Photo: New Hampshire State House