It looks as though Sen. Rand Paul will filibuster the Senate confirmation of David Barron today. Paul is demanding the release of memos Barron wrote on the administration’s drone policy before he’ll allow the process to continue. Like his previous historic filibuster, Paul’s stand may have bipartisan support as civil libertarians from both parties come to his aid. Business Insider reports on some of Paul’s prepared remarks.
“I rise today to oppose the nomination of anyone who would argue that the President has the power to kill American citizens not involved in combat,” Paul will say on the Senate floor Wednesday. “I rise today to say that there is no legal precedent for killing American citizens not directly involved in combat and that any nominee who rubber stamps and grants such power to a President is not worthy of being placed one step away from the Supreme Court.”
The efforts will serve as a sequel to the historic, 13-hour filibuster Paul staged last March over the Obama administration’s drone policy. In his earlier anti-drone filibuster, Paul opposed the nomination of John Brennan to become the director of the CIA.
This time, however, Paul’s lengthy speech will almost assuredly just be for show. The Senate changed its rules on filibusters last year and nominees can now advance with a simple majority vote instead of crossing the previous 60-vote threshold. This means Democrats can move along Barron’s nomination by themselves.
“Sen. Paul isn’t relevant here,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Business Insider Friday. “Barron’s nomination will survive or fall based on whether the Senate Democrats support him or not.”
Whether Democrats will provide enough votes for the nomination remains unclear, but Barron has been gaining support within the caucus as of late, the Senate aide said.
The controversy around Barron’s nomination stems from his time at the Justice Department, where he formerly worked as the Acting Assistant Attorney General of the Office of Legal Counsel. In that capacity, Barron reportedly authored at least two classified opinions justifying the legal rationale of the 2011 move to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen who became an Islamic extremist.
Some civil-liberties groups and Democratic senators have stopped short of opposing Barron’s nomination outright. However, they have urged the White House to make more information about the administration’s drone policies public. The ACLU sent a letter to members of Congress last week urging them to read the memos before deciding on their votes.