Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul reintroduced the Sixth Amendment Preservation Act late last week, which seeks to end the U.S. policy of indefinite detention.
The bill proposes a repeal of section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, itself a continuation of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force, which he argues is unconstitutional. That section states Congress "affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force pursuant to the Authorization for Use of Military Force… includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons pending disposition under the law of war."
In a statement, Paul said section 1021 "allows our armed forces to indefinitely detain citizens, legal residents and foreign nationals who are alleged to have engaged in hostilities against the United States."
Paul argued there should be a limit on detention authority, stating U.S. citizens apprehended within the boundaries of the U.S. could be held indefinitely without trial.
"Giving the accused their day in court isn't a suggestion," Paul said. "It's enshrined in our Constitution as a cornerstone of our judicial system. My bill reminds our government that the Founders did not put an expiration date on the Sixth Amendment."
The three-page bill states explicitly that "no person shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except consistent with the Constitution." The Sixth Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens "the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed… and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation."
The piece of legislation was previously introduced in the Senate in October 2015. It was referred to the Judiciary Committee and never advanced past that panel.