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Voting To Confirm Judge David Barron, Bernie Sanders Lost My Support In The 2016 Presidential Election

Earlier today, I wrote of a moral test in the U.S. Senate. This afternoon, David Barron’s confirmation to a powerful judicial position was put to a vote in the U.S. Senate.

David Barron’s nomination wasn’t just any old ordinary judicial court appointment. Barron crafted the legal justification for executing American citizens using predator drone aircraft without even attempting to put those citizens on trial, on the mere assertion by the President that he thinks the citizens are guilty of crimes that deserve killing.

Under David Barron’s system, criminal suspects don’t get a grand jury review, they don’t get legal representation, they don’t get trials, they don’t get sentencing hearings, and they certainly don’t get appeals. They just get killed – on no other basis than that the President decides that they ought to be killed.

This legal structure is so fundamentally contrary to the American system of fair trials established by the Bill of Rights that no lawyer who supports the Barron extrajudicial execution standard can be considered reasonably qualified to be the judge of a small town court, much less a federal judge.

sandersdroneSenator Bernard Sanders is not ignorant of this problem. Earlier this month, Sanders wrote that President Obama “has drawn concern from senators who are disturbed by David Barron’s authorship of legal memos that justified the United States’ killing of an American citizen overseas with a drone.”

Yet, this afternoon, Senator Sanders voted in favor of giving Barron a high judicial position in the federal government. Sanders abandoned his scruples in order to do a favor for President Obama and his Democratic allies.

Supporters of Sanders may brush off this vote as just one bad vote in an otherwise excellent record. They’re missing the point, however, that this vote shows that what we expect of Bernie Sanders and what he actually does when political power is at stake are two different things.

In 2008, liberals excused Barack Obama’s support of offshore oil drilling, his abandonment of ethical campaign finance standards, his support of legislation to authorize massive electronic spying against Americans, and his insulting attitude toward atheists, saying that these were just a few bad votes in an otherwise excellent record. Besides, they said, didn’t we hear that speech Obama just gave?

Obama’s liberal supporters said that their candidate was just taking on right wing positions in order to get elected, and promised that, once Obama got into the White House, wonderful things would happen. Yet, once Obama was elected President, he acted just as he had done before. He didn’t abandon his earlier bad votes. He moved to solidify them with his new executive power.

We have no reason to think Bernard would be any different. His vote today supports such a fundamental violation of our civil liberties that it cannot be reasonably excused. Sanders helped put a man who has no respect for our constitutional rights into a high judicial position. If he did it today, he would do it as President.

Bernard Sanders for President has now joined the ranks of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, Andrew Cuomo and other crass Democrats who exploit liberal enthusiasm when they need it, but cannot be trusted to enact liberal policy.

Today, Sanders showed that his campaign just isn’t worth my time.

8 comments to Voting To Confirm Judge David Barron, Bernie Sanders Lost My Support In The 2016 Presidential Election

  • Thank you for this. I’ve been looking for someone, anyone, to bring this to light. I was disappointed in Bernie when he voted for the farm bill that gutted SNAP benefits, but this was the last straw.

  • Bill

    I am no more pleased with Sanders’ vote than you are, Peregrin. But here, I respectfully suggest, you fall prey to the tealiban’s own fallacy, demanding absolute ideological purity or else you’re outta here…the one sure recipe for abject failure and powerlessness. We have all been weighed on the scales and found wanting. The only politician who can maintain snow-white ideological purity in the dirty world of politics is the one who stands for nothing except his or her own personal advancement, with no thought of ever actually accomplishing anything decent or honorable (read: Cruz, Palin, Paul, etc.).

    That said, I hasten to emphasize that I understand and share your disappointment. Bernie was a jerk for bending on this one. I wholly support the notion that the government should not kill its own citizens without due process and equal protection…and would certainly approve if the government would just pass altogether on killing its own citizens. But nothing is simple, and neither is the Barron case. In the Civil War, the U.S. government slaughtered hundreds of thousands of its own citizens wholesale, citizens who had chosen to make themselves enemy combatants. It was either that, or allow ourselves to be overrun by them. Should Lincoln have attempted to arrest, indict, and try every rebel soldier on the field at Gettysburg…clearly an impossibility…or should he have held his nose and done what he did? And were those who then voted for a second term in office for him complicit in his crime? Should they have (God forbid) voted for Douglas instead?

    • Stephen Kent Gray

      Bill, technically speaking Confederates weren’t American citizens. I know the Union didn’t recognize secession in theory, but recognized it in practice. By seceding they renounced all American citizenship. The Union said they didn’t recognize that, but their actions showed otherwise.

      America wanted to both have its cake and eat it too. By saying the Confederacy was still part of the Union and that Confederates were de jure American citizens despite their secession, it justified the ends of American territorial integrity. By acting as though the Confederacy was another country and that Confederates weren’t American citizens de facto, it justified the means of said ends.

      During Reconstruction, the South was temporarily knocked down till territory status by having no representation until the South reintegrated with America. Examples can include the fact that to become an American citizen again, a Comfederate had to undergo a loyalty examination. This makes no sense if Confederates were American citizens all along, but makes sense with the secession being a de facto reality.

  • Lydia Kelemen

    Bill, your argument falls flat : “citizens who had chosen to make themselves enemy combatants.” When there is a total disregard for due process one does not know for certain that the accused is an “enemy combatant.” This is why we have trials and jury decisions. This man as a Federal judge will sit just one short step away from the Supreme Court. It is outlandish that anyone can dismiss the necessity of adhering to our system of due process.

  • Also, citizens engaged in war against the United States effectively waive their due process. We aren’t talking about American citizens on a battlefield. We’re talking about an American citizen who was clearly a bad person but did nothing to waive his rights. Due process applies equally to the good guys and the bad guys. Otherwise it’s meaningless.

    As for “ideological purity,” there was no reason for Sanders to throw away his principles on this vote, and every reason to stand by them. If he can’t stand up for something as basic as due process, how could you trust him to stand up for anything else? I would think, after Obama, that progressives are tired of politicians who talk a good game and then fail to live up to their promises.

  • Pinkerton

    Here’s the reason your analysis doesn’t work, Bill: The only way a Sanders For President 2016 campaign would make sense would be for him to stand as the candidate of progressive principles. That was his niche, the way he could differentiate himself from others.

    Now, he’s lost that point of differentiation. Now, if he runs, he’ll have to run a campaign of: Gosh, I Like Progressive Principles In The Abstract, But You Sometimes Have To Sacrifice Those In Order To, Uh… Stuff.

    That’s Hillary Clinton. That’s Joe Biden. If we want that kind of Not Really Progressive Democrat, there are already plenty of those options. Sanders just sank back into the crowd of ethical mediocrity.

    Really, why should we bother with Sanders, now? Why should we give him the time of day? He was relying on a campaign of activists, and he just turned his back on us?

    • Bill

      “Really, why should we bother with Sanders, now?”

      Perhaps because Gotama Buddha has expressed a lack of interest in pursuing the nomination?

      • J Clifford

        Pinkerton’s question isn’t that ridiculous, Bill.

        Candidates for political office ask for a great deal of power. The President of the United States is the most powerful elected office in history.

        When a candidate like Bernard Sanders promises that he’ll run a campaign of special integrity, and then he betrays that promise, he deserves rejection.

        There is a HUGE distinction, Bill, between 1) expecting presidential candidates to oppose the execution without trial of criminal suspects and 2) expecting presidential candidates to be absolutely perfect.

        In expecting presidential candidates to support the Bill of Rights, we are merely expecting presidential candidates to be adequate.

        This is not an issue that’s on the scale of disagreements about trade policy.

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