On August 12 the California Senate Appropriations Committee sent to the floor a bill making it more difficult for residents of the Golden State to be indefinitely detained under provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Known as the California Liberty Preservation Act, AB 351 is backed by a politically diverse coalition, including 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.
The bill’s primary sponsor is current gubernatorial candidate Assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R-33rd District). Donnelly’s bill specifically guarantees the right of citizens of California to be free from any federal law, including the NDAA, that would authorize their indefinite detention in violation of habeas corpus.
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.”
Relying on the 10th Amendment’s reservation to the states and the people all powers not specifically delegated to the federal government in the Constitution, the bill is a constitutionally sound expression of state sovereignty.
In a press release issued by his office after the committee approved his bill, Assemblyman Donnelly recognizes his duty to resist attempts by Washington, D.C., to deny Americans of their most basic freedoms.
“The NDAA gives the executive branch — under not only President Obama, but also every future president — unprecedented power to detain US citizens without due process. This runs counter to the very principles that make America great, and violates our nation’s commitment to the rule of law,” said Assemblyman Donnelly.
He continued, “We have a moral duty to protect Californians from the disastrous consequences made possible by NDAA. When Constitutional protections are ignored, racist hysteria allows vulnerable groups to be targeted. It was not long ago we memorialized the tragedy of Japanese American internment camps on the floor of the California State Assembly. I am grateful for today’s committee vote, which shows Californians that their representatives are serious about ensuring similar violations of freedom and human rights abuses never happen again within our State.”
While the text of the bill lays out specific ways in which the NDAA denies citizens many of the most basic constitutionally protected civil liberties, the surprising scope of the NDAA is still unfamiliar to most Americans.
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Photo: dome of California state capitol building