Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"It's Okay to Kill the US citizen, but Not to Detain Them"

The Republican National Lawyers Association joined a coalition of groups in opposing David Barron to be a judge on the First Circuit.  Barron’s nomination has drawn widespread criticism from the left (ACLU) and right-of-center groups.  An excerpt from the letter:

Because the First Circuit is so small – with a maximum of just six full-time judges – Barron could quickly do a lot of damage to the body of federal law governing the First Circuit. The people of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Puerto Rico would suffer as a result.

For example, Professor Barron is not content to just praise Kelo vs. City of New London, the 2005 Supreme Court decision that allowed local governments to seize residents’ homes to give to private developers. Barron wants to go further in eroding private property rights, calling for "a degree of land use regulation that it is not clear current views of due process … permit." He would go so far as to “challenge the way state legislatures and executive branches are now configured” because "state legislatures … by most accounts are really not suited to assume the kind of [land use] planning tasks that a progressive vision would require."

Professor Barron’s desire to erode private property rights is just part of his push for a dramatic increase in the federal regulation of business and free markets generally. Barron advocates for “a progressive federalism” that “would give states and local governments much greater room to regulate the private market” and “private business.”

Although Barron sees himself as a progressive, his politicized view of the law should worry even progressives. For example, as head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), Barron was the legal architect of the Obama Administration’s strategy of using drone strikes to kill American citizens deemed wartime enemies without a trial or other due process. Even the liberal American Civil Liberties Union notes that Barron is apparently the only “federal government lawyer in modern American history” to sign “a legal opinion authorizing, without any judicial order, the killing of an American citizen away from a battlefield.” When asked by legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin whether this opinion means "it's okay to kill the US citizen, but not to detain them," Baron agreed.

Mr. Barron is an extremist who has no business being a judge.  Senator Reid executed the so-called “Nuclear Option” to clear the way for such nominees but we remain hopeful that moderate Democrats, or at least those in tough election races, will join with Republicans and stop this far outside the mainstream judge from being confirmed to a lifetime job.  

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