Flashback: ‘I will speak until I can no longer speak’ (2013)

(In March of 2013, Sen. Rand Paul filibustered for 13 hours in righteous opposition to the character of a nominee and the policies of a president. His case rested on solid constitutional ground. Considering the crew of the new administration’s “pirate ship” and what they’ve promised to do, Sen. Paul’s words are worth recalling. These excerpts are from the first hour of his filibuster.)

“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA. I will speak until I can no longer speak. I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court. That Americans could be killed in a café in San Francisco or in a restaurant in Houston or at their home in Bowling Green, Kentucky, is an abomination. It is something that should not and cannot be tolerated in our country. I don’t rise to oppose John Brennan’s nomination simply for the person. I rise today for the principle.”

“The President says, ‘I haven’t killed anyone yet.’ He goes on to say, ‘And I have no intention of killing Americans. But I might.‘ Is that enough? Are we satisfied by that? Are we so complacent with our rights that we would allow a President to say he ‘might’ kill Americans? But he will judge the circumstances, he will be the sole arbiter, he will be the sole decider, he will be the executioner-in-chief if he sees fit.”

“The Constitution left your rights as unenumerated. Your rights are limitless.”

“The [Department] of Justice put out a bulletin within the last year describing people who you need to be worried about. These are the people that you’re supposed to say something about. If you see something, you’re supposed to say something. Who are these terrorists that live among you?

People who might be missing fingers on one hand, people who might have stains on their clothing, people who might have changed the color of their hair, people who like to pay in cash, people who own more than one gun, people who own weatherized ammunition, people who have seven days of food in their house. These are people that you should be afraid of and that you should report to your government. So says your government.”

“Patrick Henry wrote that the Constitution wasn’t given or written or put down to restrain you. The Constitution was to restrain us. There’s always been, since the beginning of time, since we first had government, this desire to restrain the government, to try to keep the government from getting too strong, to keep the government from taking your rights. It’s interesting when you look at the Constitution, the Constitution gave what are called ‘enumerated powers’ to government, and Madison said that these enumerated powers few and defined. The liberties you were given, though, are numerous and unenumerated — unlimited. So it is about 17 powers given to government which we’ve now transformed into about a gazillion or at least a million new. We don’t pay much attention to the enumerated powers in the Constitution anymore. But the Constitution left your rights as unenumerated. Your rights are limitless.