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Thune Ignores Constitution, Defends Military Detention of U.S. Citizens

Jonathan Ellis rips into the still anonymous's effort to define several leading Republicans out of their own party. Ellis thinks picking just 20 votes out of hundreds is a shoddy way to define fidelity to party values.

I thus suppose Ellis will accuse me of a lack of intellectual rigor if I point to one vote as a failure to defend the Constitution. I nonetheless sally forth on that front with The Displaced Plainsman, who notes that Senator John Thune voted to rip the Constitution, just a little, last week when he helped defeat the Feinstein Amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act. Without the Feinstein Amendment, the Defense appropriations bill allows the United States military to arrest American citizens on American soil and detain them indefinitely.

In other words, if the President doesn't like you, he can send Marines to your house to cuff you and stuff you for as long as he wants. The President—you know, that skinny Marxist whom you don't even trust to manage your health care payments.

I received an e-mail over the weekend from a friend concerned that the United Nations will use the White House Rural Council to take over America. Such fears are a tentacle of the fantastic Agenda 21 conspiracy octopus. I suggested to my friend that true patriots ought to spend less time hyperventilating over imagined agendas imputed to the U.N. and George Soros and more time focusing on unconstitutional policies written in black and white that would have driven our Founding Fathers to take up arms.

This one vote may not mean John Thune is no longer a Republican, but Conor Friedersdorf says it should be enough to motivate "Constitutional conservatives" to primary the senators who voted against the Feinstein Amendment:

The Republicans listed ought to be condemned by "constitutional conservatives." Those are the Tea-Party-affiliated voters who, according to Yuval Levin of National Review, are "focused on restraining government" through "a system of checks to prevent sudden large mistakes while enabling gradual changes supported by a broad and longstanding consensus." These conservatives, Levin says, insist on "constitutional forms that compel self-restraint and enable self-correction" out of "the humble desire for forms that might prevent large mistakes." They are "focused on recovering the U.S. Constitution, and especially its limits on government power," because in the view of the Framers, "there is no omniscience; there is only imperfect humanity." We therefore need "checks on all of our various excesses, and a system that forces us to think through important decisions as best we can." If a bloc of voters with those attitudes in fact exists, they've now got a list of senators to challenge in the next primaries they face.

As yet, there is no hint that there will be such a rebellion [Conor Friedersdorf, "Ceding Liberty to Terror: Senate Votes Against Due-Process Rights," The Atlantic, 2011.12.02].

Conservatives, if you are willing to knock your fellow Republicans over ill-crafted illegal immigration legislation or tempest-in-a-teapot history standards, why do you not assail Senator John Thune over his defense of indefinite military detention that directly threatens basic due process?

By the way, Senator Tim Johnson voted for the Feinstein Amendment. Thank you, Senator Johnson, for defending the Constitution.


  1. Stan Gibilisco 2011.12.05

    After drilling down among your links, Cory, I discovered something that astonished me: Nearly all of the Senators who voted against the Feinstein amendment were Republicans, and nearly all of the Senators who voted for it were Democrats.

    As a Republican (in name at least), I can't imagine what's in my colleagues' heads over there. Maybe they burn some weird weed in West Virginia, and the prevailing winds and vortices concentrate the smoke, which attaches itself to conservative brain cells only, in the D.C. area.

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