Working late last Tuesday night, the Rhode Island House of Representatives overwhelmingly moved to pass a resolution calling for the repeal of detention provisions in the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Spearheaded by Representative Dan Gordon, Jr., this resolution joins a growing discourse of opposition to the unprecedented powers of detention invested in the president under the current NDAA. These provisions give the president the power to detain Americans, denying them constitutional rights including due process and habeas corpus. A former Marine and self professed student of history and the U.S. Constitution, Gordon impassionedly spoke of the NDAA’s failings and his loyalty to defend against such actions:
Given the fact that the constitutions of Rhode Island and that of the United States are replete with guarantees of individual liberties, right to habeas corpus, and right to freedom of speech, the offending sections of that law are repugnant to the sensibilities of anyone [who] has a basic understanding of the foundation of this country….
When I took the oath of office, I swore that I would support the constitutions of Rhode Island and the United States. And before one constituent of mine is snatched up in the dead of night, without due process under our laws, they’ll have to pry those documents from my cold dead hands.
Despite passing the House by a vote of 52-15, the resolution drew fire from House republicans for challenging federal authority. As stated by Rep. Brian Newsberry, just moments before attempting to force the “resubmission” of the resolution, “it is inappropriate for the Rhode Island House to be considering federal matters”. If Rep. Gordon is re-elected in November, he says he would, “like to take the next step and draft a bill that would make enforcement of the NDAA’s indefinite detention provisions a felony in Rhode Island”, an action that will undoubtedly increase tensions surrounding the issue of state’s rights and the expansion of executive power. Anyone concerned about these issues can get involved in the struggle to restore due process.