(Jan. 30, 2012) – With the introduction of the Washington State Preservation of Liberty Act, Evergreen State legislators have the opportunity to exercise their right and duty, and interpose on behalf of their citizens to halt a deliberate, palpable, and dangerous exercise of federal power.
Five Washington state representatives introduced HB 2759 on Tuesday. The bill condemns the unlawful detention of United States citizens and lawful resident aliens under the National Defense Authorization Act, and forbids “any state employee, member of the Washington National Guard or any agent of a corporation doing business with the state” to cooperate in the federal detainment or investigation of a U.S. citizen or resident alien.
It also prohibits the United States military from conducting within the boundaries of the state of Washington, an investigation or detainment of a United States citizen or lawful resident alien located within the state of Washington, except for a few narrowly prescribed circumstances.
The bill meticulously makes its case, asserting that the NDAA leaves the door open for indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without due process, violating the U.S. Constitution. While the language of the bill acknowledges the danger of terrorism, it insists protecting Americans cannot come at the expense of their constitutionally protected rights.
It is indisputable that the threat of terrorism is real, and that the full force of appropriate, and constitutional, law must be used to defeat this threat. However, winning the war against terror cannot come at the great expense of eviscerating the unalienable rights recognized by and protected in the United States Constitution and the Constitution of the state of Washington. Indeed, undermining those constitutional rights serves only to concede to the terrorists’ demands of changing the fabric of what has made the United States of America a republic granting the greatest number of people the greatest amount of liberty, justice, security, opportunity, prosperity, happiness, peace, and good ever known or experienced by humankind throughout the history of the world.
The detention provisions in the NDAA are vague, overbroad and open to interpretation. Pres. Obama tacitly acknowledged detention power exists when he promised not to exercise it in his signing statement. That leaves Americans to trust in the good character and moral clarity of Obama, Rick Santorum or whoever happens to reside in the White House to protect them from abuse of detention power.
Washington lawmakers have the opportunity to stand in the gap and ensure their citizens will not find themselves subject to the capricious whims of federal agents. By taking a stand, Washington can join those heroic state officials who stood up against federal power to protect black citizens in the waning years of slavery. In the 1840s and 1850s state and local governments in northern states stepped in and thwarted the enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Acts, which allowed the federal government to arrest and detain black people, and send them back into slavery with little or no due process. NDAA has the potential to become the Fugitive Slave Act of the 21st century, and it once again falls upon the states to protect the rights and liberties of their citizens.
Representatives Jason Overstreet (R-Blaine), Matt Shea (R- Spokane Valley), Vincent Buys (R-Lynden), Cary Condotta (R- East Wenatchee) and David Taylor (R-Moxee) sponsor HB 2759.
Washington joins Virginia and Tennessee considering legislation to nullify NDAA detention provisions, and sources close to the Tenth Amendment Center indicate several other states will soon follow suit. These states join several local governments that have also taken a stand against unconstitutional detention of American citizens.
To track NDAA: Liberty Preservation Act legislation across the U.S., click HERE.