Judge Strikes Down NDAA, Rules Obama Must Obey Constitution
In a considerable setback for a president eager to ravage the due process rights of the American people, Federal Judge Kathleen Forrest granted a preliminary injunction on Wednesday, striking down those sections of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 which sought to provide Barack Obama the power to indefinitely detain citizens without benefit of their 5th Amendment rights.
Signed very quietly into law on New Year’s Eve, the controversial Act has been roundly criticized as unconstitutional by groups on both the political left and right. Of greatest concern was Section 1021, which grants the United States military authority to exercise police powers on American soil. Upon order of the president and at his sole discretion, agents of the military are empowered to detain “until the end of hostilities” anyone the president believes to have “substantially supported” al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”
Judge Forrest concluded that the Section “…failed to ‘pass Constitutional muster’ because its broad language could be used to quash political dissent.” In a statement clearly directed to lawmakers, she added, ”Section 1021 tries to do too much with too little – it lacks the minimal requirements of definition and scienter that could easily have been added, or could be added, to allow it to pass constitutional muster.” That is, Congress failed—perhaps deliberately– to define “substantial support” of terrorist groups or describe those activities which might be construed as crossing the legal line. And no law may be enforced if those to whom it applies are unable to clearly understand what a violation of that law entails.
Yet in his signing statement, Obama wrote that he had in fact forced Congress to “…[revise] provisions that otherwise would have jeopardized the safety, security and liberty of the American people.” So rather than the grand inquisitor, committing to prison any American citizens he chose to view as enemies, Obama claimed to be their champion and savior, protecting them from the excesses of an over-zealous Congress!
“I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens,” wrote Obama. “My Administration will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law.” This of course was an outright lie, given the expressed meaning of the statute as Obama himself had demanded it be written. Leave it to Barack Obama to demand he be given absolute authority over the American public, yet claim in the next moment that he will not take advantage of it!
The Department of Justice, which defended the NDAA before Judge Forrest, will undoubtedly appeal her ruling. It is a judicial process Americans must watch closely as the free exercise of our Constitutional rights depends upon the outcome.