20,000 signatures reached
To: The U.S. Senate
Tell the Senate: Keep “assassination memo” nominee David Barron off the federal bench
I urge you to oppose David Barron’s confirmation to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Assassinating Americans citizens without charge, trial, and the presentation of evidence is unconstitutional — and advancing a legal justification for the executive branch to do so renders Mr. Barron unfit for the federal judiciary.
Why is this important?
Killing American citizens on the basis of mere suspicion, without due process — including charge, trial, and the presentation of evidence before a neutral judge — is the ultimate example of unconstitutional executive fiat. Yet David Barron, President Obama’s nominee to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, wrote multiple Justice Department memos presenting a legal justification for the executive branch to do exactly that.
The Obama administration’s targeted killing program has long remained shrouded in secrecy. We do know, however, that the administration uses armed drones to kill people, including Americans, who are suspected — but never proven — of supporting terrorism.
Barron’s analysis supported the extra-judicial assassination of U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed by a CIA drone strike in Yemen in 2011. While al-Awlaki was publicly outspoken about his criticism of the US, and his support for violent extremism, the appropriate forum to examine those concerns would be a trial for treason, not secret assassination without judicial review. Al-Awlaki’s 16 year-old son, born in Denver and never even accused of involvement in any threat to US national security, was also killed in a separate drone strike.
During the Bush Administration, President Obama spoke eloquently on the Senate floor about the vital importance of due process – even for accused terrorists. While President Obama and many others in his administration have changed their tune since entering office, I and many other Americans continue to believe in the U.S. Constitution and the due process it guarantees.
Despite a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit initiated by the American Civil Liberties Union and New York Times, and repeated calls for transparency from the American people and a bipartisan group of Senators, the Obama administration has refused to release Mr. Barron’s legal reasoning to the public.
Without access to Mr. Barron’s legal analysis claiming the authority to assassinate Americans without trial, it is impossible for the American people to know whether Mr. Barron actually understands the law.
It is clear from the conclusion that he does not. Killing Americans who have neither been charged with, nor convicted of, a crime represents a dramatic departure from the rule of law as understood for centuries. The U.S. Constitution does not allow our executive branch to presume the roles of judge, jury and executioner. Judicial constraints on the power to arbitrarily assassinate are a bedrock of our legal system, secured in the Magna Carta nearly a millennium ago.
Even were the administration to allow access to Mr. Barron’s legal analysis, his nomination should be rejected. His work enabling assassination without trial represents a dangerous complicity in the expansion of executive power that should disqualify him to serve on the federal bench.
Beyond the assertion of executive fiat, the administration’s further refusal to release Mr. Barron’s legal memos and opinions amounts to a disturbing and un-American “trust us” policy. No American —and certainly not Senators —should trust any President to unilaterally decide which American citizens to kill, when and why.
Whether or not you trust President Obama and his advisers to make that type of decision, imagine a future President Ted Cruz or Sarah Palin having the power to kill Americans at will. We can’t allow that to happen.
The U.S. Senate may soon vote whether to confirm Mr. Barron’s lifetime nomination to the federal bench. Please sign my petition today to let Senators know that Mr. Barron’s role in claiming the legal authority for the executive branch to unconstitutionally assassinate Americans disqualifies him from serving as a federal judge.