DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA – Protecting Americans from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial, is the focus of a bill introduced Wednesday in the U.S. Senate by Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
The Due Process Guarantee Act is also sponsored by Sens. Ted Cruz , T-Texas, Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Chris Coons, D-Del.
“America should never waver in vigilantly pursuing those who would commit, or plot to commit, acts of treason against our country,” Lee said. “But the federal government should not be allowed to indefinitely imprison any American on the mere accusation of treason without affording them the due process guaranteed by our Constitution.
“By forbidding the government from detaining Americans without trial absent explicit congressional approval, the Due Process Guarantee Act strikes the right balance between protecting our security and the civil liberties of each citizen.”
The bill also expands the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to include green card holders in addition to citizens. Lee and Feinstein have sponsored similar legislation several times in the past, most recently in January 2015, without success.
In years past, some have argued that the indefinite detention of Americans is permissible under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF.
The Due Process Guarantee Act clarifies that the AUMF and other general authorizations cannot be construed as acts of Congress that permit indefinite detention and codifies the “clear statement rule” to clarify that indefinite detention can only occur if Congress expressly authorizes it.
“We must not betray our country’s most sacred values by making a false choice between civil liberties and national security,” Feinstein said. “No person should be detained indefinitely without charge or trial, and this bill is a step toward making that clear in the law. We have demonstrated time and again that the federal court system is perfectly capable of handling terrorists.”