Moral Low Ground

Civil Liberties

Rejecting NDAA, California Gov. Jerry Brown Signs Bill Banning Indefinite Detention

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican, authored the anti-NDAA bill (Photo: California government)

Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican, authored the anti-NDAA bill (Photo: California government)

California’s governor signed into law a measure banning indefinite detention in the state, as well as state cooperation with federal government attempts to detain people under the highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The Huffington Post reports Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, signed AB 351, the ‘Civil liberties- suspension of habeas corpus for American citizens’ act, into law earlier this week. The measure, which was authored by Assemblyman Tim Donnelly, a Republican representing Twin Peaks, effectively bans state cooperation with any federal enforcement of ‘indefinite detention’ of so-called ‘enemy combatants’ without due process of law.

Such imprisonment is allowed under a provision of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which permits the indefinite military detention without charge or trial of American citizens. President Barack Obama quietly signed the NDAA into law on New Year’s Eve 2011, defending the measure as a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism. Federal Judge Katherine B. Forrest ruled that the NDAA’s indefinite detention provision was unconstitutional in September 2012, writing that it “impermissibly impinges upon guaranteed First Amendment rights.” A month later, a higher federal court issued a temporary stay of Forrest’s injunction against the NDAA, affirming the act’s indefinite detention provision.

Not only does California’s new law ban indefinite detention and state cooperation with any implementation of the NDAA, it also targets any future federal statutes that codify indefinite detention.

Donnelly released the following statement hailing the passage of AB 351:

The signing of this bill into law is a victory for the people of California and proof that defending liberty is not a partisan issue. This law guarantees that our constitutional civil liberties will be protected from federal overreach. Indefinite detention, by its very nature, discards many of the ideals that our Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution.

This law is the fulfillment of our promise, made to those citizens who were interned in World War II, that never again will our state allow people on California soil to be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process.

Internment of Japanese Americans-- shameful precedent (Photo: California State Library)

Internment of Japanese Americans– shameful precedent (Photo: California State Library)

Virginia and Alaska have already passed laws banning state cooperation with federal authorities seeking to indefinitely detain anyone without due process.

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