Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act, a bill to protect Americans from being detained indefinitely, without charge or trial.
The legislation aims to end ongoing legal ambiguities by affirming and strengthening the principles behind the Non-Detention Act of 1971.
“Detaining U.S. citizens and green card holders indefinitely without charge or trial violates our fundamental values as a nation and represents a repetition of the horrific mistake made with the internment of Japanese-Americans” Feinstein said. “While some argue we need such detentions to stop violent extremists, I wholeheartedly disagree. Our criminal justice system has proven time and time again that it can successfully convict terrorism suspects within the bounds of law.”
“America should never waver in vigilantly pursuing those who would commit, or plot to commit, acts of treason against our country. 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,” Lee said. “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.”
In recent years, some have argued that the indefinite detention of Americans is permissible under the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (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.
The bill also expands the Non-Detention Act of 1971 to include green card holders in addition to citizens.
In December 2012, the Senate passed this legislation as an amendment to the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act with 67 votes, but it stalled in the House of Representatives. This legislation is almost identical to that language.