April 10, 2013
The Arizona House of Representatives will not cooperate with the federal government in denying due process to citizens of the Grand Canyon State.
By a vote of 34 to 24, the House passed HB 2573, a bill that would, among other things, prevent state officials from participating in the indefinite detention of Americans by the president as authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA).
The measure would amend Title 41 of the Arizona code by adding a section prohibiting state governmental compliance with unconstitutional federal mandates.
A majority of Arizona’s state lawmakers recognize that Arizona is, along with her 49 sister states, a sovereign entity endowed with what James Madison described as “numerous and indefinite powers.” The federal government, on the other hand, possesses only “few and defined” powers, Madison wrote in The Federalist, No. 45.
Thankfully, there are yet found among the nation’s hundreds of elected state and local representatives a small but well-informed minority that understands and appreciates that concept and the significant role states are designed to play in the defense of liberty.
One such official is Arizona state Representative Carl Seel (R-Phoenix), HB 2573’s chief sponsor.
“Every public officer is required to uphold the Constitution not only of the United States [but], in our case, the state of Arizona as well,” Seel said, as quoted in the Arizona Daily Star. The article goes on to quote Seel explaining that his bill “best reflects preserving, where possible, the individual civil liberties.”
While text of the bill lays out specific ways in which the NDAA denies citizens of many of the most basic constitutionally protected civil liberties, the surprising scope of the NDAA is unfamiliar to many.
President Barack Obama signed the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) into law on January 2, renewing the power to apprehend and detain Americans indefinitely granted in the previous year’s version.
Next, as for the most pernicious parts of the NDAA 2012 that remain in effect, a bit of history is in order.
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.
One of the most noxious elements of the NDAA is that it places the American military at the disposal of the president for the apprehension, arrest, and detention of those suspected of posing a danger to the homeland (whether inside or outside the borders of the United States and whether the suspect be a citizen or foreigner). The endowment of such a power to the president by the Congress is nothing less than a de facto legislative repeal of the Posse Comitatus Act of 1878, the law forbidding the use of the military in domestic law enforcement.
Furthermore, a key component of the NDAA mandates a frightening grant of immense and unconstitutional power to the executive branch. Under the provisions of Section 1021, the president is afforded the absolute power to arrest and detain citizens of the United States without their being informed of any criminal charges, without a trial on the merits of those charges, and without a scintilla of the due process safeguards protected by the Constitution of the United States.