Get Ready for Rand Paul’s Next Drone Filibuster

He may talk a bunch, but he actually can’t block Obama’s judicial pick the way he could last year.

National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Elahe Izad
May 16, 2014, 10:02 a.m.

Rand Paul drew praise from both the Right and Left last year when he moun­ted a 13-hour, talk­ing fili­buster from the Sen­ate floor to block a nom­in­a­tion over ob­jec­tions re­lated to drone killings of Amer­ic­an cit­izens. And he might do it again this year.

The Re­pub­lic­an sen­at­or from Ken­tucky plans to block the nom­in­a­tion of Dav­id Bar­ron to the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the First Cir­cuit. Bar­ron, a former Justice De­part­ment of­fi­cial, was a main au­thor of a secret Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion “drone memo,” which re­portedly offered a leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for the killing of Amer­ic­an ex­trem­ist An­war al-Aw­laki, who was liv­ing in Ye­men at the time. After mount­ing pres­sure from both lib­er­als and liber­tari­ans, the ad­min­is­tra­tion al­lowed sen­at­ors to read the memos, of which there are two doc­u­ments.

“I’ve read Dav­id Bar­ron’s memos con­cern­ing the leg­al jus­ti­fic­a­tion for killing an Amer­ic­an cit­izen over­seas without a tri­al or leg­al rep­res­ent­a­tion, and I am not sat­is­fied,” Paul said in a state­ment Thursday. There is “no val­id leg­al pre­ced­ent to jus­ti­fy the killing of an Amer­ic­an cit­izen not en­gaged in com­bat,” the sen­at­or ad­ded, say­ing he plans to fili­buster Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion.

Sen­at­ors look to block ac­tion on the Sen­ate floor all the time, but not through a talk­ing fili­buster. Asked wheth­er Paul’s plan to block Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion means an­oth­er mara­thon fili­buster, Paul’s press sec­ret­ary said he “will do everything in his power to op­pose the nom­in­a­tion of Dav­id Bar­ron, and thus a fili­buster is not out of the ques­tion.”

Thanks to C-SPAN and so­cial me­dia, talk­ing non­stop to thwart a bill — which was how law­makers fili­bustered bills in the old days — has the po­ten­tial to draw massive amounts of at­ten­tion. Take Demo­crat­ic le­gis­lat­or Wendy Dav­is’s fili­buster of an abor­tion bill in the Texas state House. Her ef­fort went vir­al and pro­pelled her to the na­tion­al stage.

Paul’s fili­buster last year spurred sur­pris­ing sup­port from both con­ser­vat­ives and lib­er­als. Back then, the sen­at­or was block­ing the con­firm­a­tion of John Bren­nan to lead the CIA, after the ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­fused to rule out the use of drone strikes on Amer­ic­an soil.

“I will speak un­til I can no longer speak,” Paul said on the Sen­ate floor last March. “I will speak as long as it takes, un­til the alarm is soun­ded from coast to coast that our Con­sti­tu­tion is im­port­ant, that your rights to tri­al by jury are pre­cious, that no Amer­ic­an should be killed by a drone on Amer­ic­an soil without first be­ing charged with a crime, without first be­ing found to be guilty by a court.”

The tim­ing of the fili­buster, which spawned the hasht­ag #Stand­With­Rand, came shortly be­fore the con­ser­vat­ive con­fab at CPAC. There, it be­came clear that Paul’s polit­ic­al stock had ris­en con­sid­er­ably thanks to his speech.

But there’s a cru­cial dif­fer­ence between last year and the cur­rent case. Where­as Paul’s fili­buster did ef­fect­ively block Bren­nan’s nom­in­a­tion from mov­ing for­ward, this po­ten­tial speech will take place in a post-nuc­le­ar Sen­ate. The up­per cham­ber has since changed how it con­firms ju­di­cial nom­in­ees — last March, 60 votes were needed to con­firm a nom­in­ee; now, just 51 are re­quired. That means that Paul can talk all he wants, but it won’t mat­ter much if 51 Demo­crats back Pres­id­ent Obama’s nom­in­ee.

Lib­er­als have also voiced con­cerns over Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion. Demo­crat­ic Sen. Mark Ud­all of Col­or­ado, for in­stance, has said he won’t back Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion un­til the memos are made pub­lic.

On Thursday, White House coun­sel met with the Demo­crat­ic caucus to dis­cuss the memos and Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion. A Sen­ate vote on Bar­ron’s nom­in­a­tion will come next week.

“It’s a dif­fi­cult is­sue. He’s a bril­liant judge, who on most is­sues, is in sync with the vast ma­jor­ity of Demo­crats. And the ques­tion is this memo,” Chuck Schu­mer, the Sen­ate’s No. 3 Demo­crat, said be­fore the meet­ing. “The people who have read the memos — I have not at this point — say when you read them, it’s far more ex­culp­at­ory of Bar­ron than the news re­ports might in­dic­ate.”

What We're Following See More »
SAYS TRUMP JUST ATTACKING REPUBLICANS
Former Top Aide to McConnell Says GOPers Should Abandon Trump
2 days ago
THE LATEST
“YOU CAN’T CHANGE HISTORY, BUT YOU CAN LEARN FROM IT”
Trump Defends Confederate Statues in Tweetstorm
2 days ago
WHY WE CARE
CEOS HAVE BEEN FLEEING FOR THE EXITS
Trump to End Business Councils
3 days ago
THE LATEST
FROM STATEMENT
McConnell: “No Good Neo-Nazis”
3 days ago
THE LATEST
NO FORMAL LEGISLATIVE EFFORT
CBC Members Call for Removal of Confederate Statues from Capitol
3 days ago
THE LATEST

"Members of the Congressional Black Caucus are reviving calls to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol following the violence at a white nationalist rally in Virginia." Rep. Cedric Richmond, the group's chair, told ABC News that "we will never solve America's race problem if we continue to honor traitors who fought against the United States." And Mississippi Rep. Bennie Thompson said, “Confederate memorabilia have no place in this country and especially not in the United States Capitol." But a CBC spokesperson said no formal legislative effort is afoot.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login