Arizona House Introduces Legislation to Nullify Indefinite Detention
On March 16, 2016, the Federalism and States’ Rights Committee of the Arizona State House of Representatives approved SB 1437 and referred it to the House Rules Committee. The purpose of the bill is to nullify provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that allows the Executive Branch to suspend habeas corpus (Article 1, Section 9, Clause 2) and revoke the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.
The NDAA provides unilateral authority to the President of the United States (POTUS) to use the military to apprehend and indefinitely detain U.S. citizens suspected of anything deemed as a threat to the U.S. The Posse Comitatus Act (PCA) of 1878 prevents the use of the military as a posse comitatus, but the NDAA is a de facto repeal of the Act. The PCA reads:
Whoever, except in cases and under circumstances expressly authorized by the Constitution or Act of Congress, willfully uses any part of the Army or Air Force as a posse comitatus or otherwise to execute the laws shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than two years, or both.
The NDAA is another example of how members of Congress conspire to transfer unlimited, unconstitutional powers to the Executive Branch as a means to shirking their responsibilities and avoiding accountability.
The section of the NDAA that provides the President with arbitrary power to apprehend and indefinitely detain “covered persons” is Section 1021. Section 1021 reads as follows:
Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force…includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons…pending disposition under the law of war.
There is no definition of “covered persons” in the NDAA, so the provision can apply to anybody. The president is granted absolute power to deploy the military to round up U.S. citizens he has determined are guilty of undefined, undisclosed charges, and imprison them for an indefinite period of time.
The State House in Arizona has introduced SB 1437 to nullify the unconstitutional measures in the NDAA. The legislation nullifies “any National Defense Authorization Act or any similar law or authority enacted or claimed by Congress or the President of the United States.” The bill makes it unconstitutional and unlawful for any person to do the following:
- Arrest or capture any person in this state or any citizen of this state within the United States with the intent of detention under the law of war.
- Actually subject a person in this state or any citizen of this state to disposition under the law of war.
- Execute any person in this state or any citizen of this state within the United States without judicial sentencing after trial and conviction in a court ordained and established under Article III of the United States Constitution or under the constitution of Arizona.
The legislation provides an opportunity for members of the Arizona House to show their resolve to uphold states’ rights against the never-ending, tyrannical machinations by the federal government to turn states and their citizens into fed gov subjects.
The only recourse states have against unconstitutional, federal laws is nullification. SB 1437 is an attempt by the Arizona State House to protect Arizonans from despotism by upholding their constitutional rights. Every state should follow Arizona’s lead and pass similar legislation to protect its citizens.