On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, 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 first threatened to filibuster Barron last week.
According to his office, Paul will take to the Senate floor Wednesday morning to begin an old-fashioned, talking filibuster of Barron’s nomination. Paul opposes Barron because of his concerns about legal opinions Barron wrote in support of the use of drones against U.S. citizens.
A spokesperson for Paul told Business Insider the senator plans to speak for an “extended amount of time.” They also provided us with a preview of his 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.
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