235 years ago, 56 brave patriots signed their names to a document declaring all individuals are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
Today, we find these rights endangered by vague language contained within the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). If interpreted incorrectly, this language could allow the indefinite detention of American citizens.
I will not stand for this degradation of our rights. I can’t. On January 5, 2011, I placed my hand on a Bible and swore before God to defend the Constitution against “all enemies both foreign and domestic.”
Sometimes our enemies are not obvious. In fact, the enemy that keeps me up at night is the slow erosion of our Constitutional rights. Over the last 30 years, Congress has wrongly handed over many of its Constitutional powers to the Executive – increasing the scope of government and decreasing our liberties.
The NDAA continues this trend by allowing the President to hold any individual associated with terrorist forces in “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of hostilities.” While these provisions mention certain protections for American citizens, the language defining these exemptions could be interpreted to provide no protection.
To temporarily protect our rights, I entered into an exchange with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon on the floor and placed it into the Congressional Record. Our exchange sets the “legislative intent” that nothing in this language allows Americans to be held indefinitely. This is important because courts must consider legislative intent when they are uncertain about a law’s meaning.
However, temporary protection is not enough when liberty hangs in the balance. We need certainty. We must provide language clear as day that U.S. citizens are provided rights untouchable by this President or future Presidents.
To provide this lock-solid protection, I introduced a bill to fix the NDAA and provide a bright line of clarity for American rights. H.R. 3676 is a one-page bill clearly stating that nothing in the NDAA allows an American to be held in custody without due process or the right to trial.
H.R. 3676 is supported by both ends of the political spectrum. My bill has 61 sponsors – ACLU liberal Democrats and Constitutional conservative Republicans – because liberty is not a partisan issue, it is an American issue.
Honoring my oath and honoring the faith Louisiana has placed in me, I will be working to ensure Congress passes and the President signs into law H.R. 3676.
Please contact your representative and ask him to cosponsor H.R. 3676. Together, we can return to the vision of our Founding Fathers and guarantee liberty and freedom.