Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, is planning a follow-up to the historic talking filibuster he staged last year over the Obama administration’s drone policy. However, 0thanks to new Senate rules, the sequel likely won’t be as good as the original.
Paul said in a statement on Thursday he will filibuster President Barack Obama’s nomination of David Barron to fill a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. Paul said he was concerned about legal opinions Barron wrote on the use of drones against U.S. citizens, something that did not dissipate after Paul read the memos.
“I’ve read David Barron’s memos concerning the legal justification for killing an American citizen overseas without a trial or legal representation, and I am not satisfied,” Paul said in the statement.
“There is no valid legal precedent to justify the killing of an American citizen not engaged in combat. In fact, one can surmise as much because the legal question at hand has never been adjudicated. Therefore, I shall not only oppose the nomination of David Barron, but will filibuster.”
An aide to Paul said he will “do everything in his power” to oppose the nomination — including a possible talking filibuster.
Paul’s efforts this time, however, might be for little more than show. The Senate changed its rules on filibusters last year, and nominees can now advance with a simple majority vote — instead of the previous 60-vote threshold. Democrats, then, can move along Barron’s nomination by themselves.
“Sen. Paul isn’t relevant here,” a Senate Democratic leadership aide told Business Insider. “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. White House lawyers met with Senate Democrats earlier this week in an attempt to alleviate their concerns.
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. He 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 outright opposing Barron’s nomination, but 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.
Paul gained notoriety with his talking filibuster last year opposing the nomination of John Brennan to become the director of the CIA. He spoke for nearly 13 hours.
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