‘Your Right To Trial By Jury Is Precious’: Sen. Rand Paul Stages Nearly 13 Hour Old-School Filibuster Over Drone Strikes

Editor’s note: Key updates are located at the bottom of this story. For the full wrap-up of what transpired over Paul’s nearly 13-hour filibuster, be sure to read all the way down.

The Senate Intelligence Committee voted 12 to 3 on Tuesday to confirm John Brennan as the next director of the Central Intelligence Agency.

However, Brennan may have at least one more hurdle to clear before final confirmation, namely, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has vowed to block his nomination until the White House provides more information on its secretive drone program.

The Kentucky senator doesn’t have the 41 votes necessary to prevent a cloture vote, which would block Brennan’s confirmation, so he’s doing the only thing he can do: He’s stalling all senate business with an honest-to-goodness, old-fashioned filibuster.

“I rise today to begin to filibuster John Brennan’s nomination for the CIA,” Sen. Paul at approximately 11:45 a.m ET on Wednesday.

(Related: You Will Never Believe Who Said ‘Rand Paul Is the MAN’ for Filibuster — Seriously, You Won’t)

“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 right to trial by jury is precious, that no American should be killed on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court,” he added.

And it looks like he’s in it for the long haul.

“They say Lewis Carroll is fiction. Alice never fell down a rabbit hole and the White Queen’s caustic judgments are not really a threat to your security or has America the Beautiful become Alice’s Wonderland?” he asked.

He continued, reading aloud from Carroll’s book:

“No, no,” said the queen. “Sentence first; Verdict afterwards.”

“Stuff and nonsense,” Alice said widely — loudly. “The idea of having the sentence first?”

“Hold your tongue,” said the queen, turning purple.

“I won’t,” said Alice.

“Release the drones,” said the queen, as she shouted at the top of her voice.

At a later point in his speech, Sen. Paul made his intentions crystal clear: “All I’m asking of the president is that he says in public that he’s not in favor of summarily executing people.”

How long do you suppose the Kentucky senator will hold out? According to senate rules, aides are allowed to bring him food and notes. So at least he has got that.

UPDATE: The senator posed an interesting question regarding U.S. civilians the fed’s definition of “enemy combatants.”

“Nobody will ever forget Jane Fonda swivelling around in North Vietnamese armored guns and it was despicable,” he said. “That’s one thing if you want to try her for treason, but are you going to just drop a drone, a hellfire missile on Jane Fonda?”

Courtesy the Washington Examiner:

UPDATE II: So far Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) have all stepped up to give Sen. Paul a hand. Careful to not yield the floor, the Kentucky senator has engaged each one in lengthy discussions regarding civil liberties, the U.S. Constitution, and the government’s definition of an “enemy combatant.”

And it looks like Paul is just getting warmed up.

UPDATE III: Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has just stepped stepped in to discuss “Congressional oversight of executive branch & rules for targeted killings.”

“Every American deserves to know when the government thinks it has the right to kill them” Sen. Wyden said, sharing Sen. Paul’s concerns over the government’s widespread use of drone strikes.

This should be interesting.

UPDATE IV: Here’s a collection of some of Sen. Paul’s most notable quotes (you can see more at his Facebook page):

  • “Are we so frightened that we’re going to give up on our Bill of Rights? Are we going to round up people who have a different color skin because they might have a cousin in Lebanon?”
  • “Are you in favor of martial law by the President? I don’t think many Americans would be.”
  • “No President has the right to say that he is judge, jury, and executioner.”
  • “I will not sit quietly and let the president shred the Constitution.”

And, yes, as of about 3:45 p.m. ET, Sen. Paul has officially crossed the four-hour mark.

UPDATE V: And now Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) has joined Sen. Paul in his filibuster efforts.

UPDATE VI: Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) has now joined in the discussion.

UPDATE VII: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has just taken to the floor to invoke cloture — and Sen. Paul rejects his proposal.

It looks like we may be in for a long evening, folks. The Kentucky senator — with the aid of Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) — is moving forward with the filibuster.

LATEST UPDATES: Yes, we are now in the twelfth hour of Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster.

And although he looks tired, the Kentucky senator is still going, thanks in part to contributions from Republican senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Jerry Moran (Kan.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Saxby Chambliss (Ga.), Sen. Dean Heller (Nev.), John Barasso (Wy.), John Thune (S.D), Mitch McConnell (Ky.), and Mike Lee (Utah).

Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.) also pitched in earlier this afternoon.

Meanwhile, over on the other side of town, these GOP senators were absent this evening — and have yet to pitch in — because they were dining with President Barack Obama:

  • Tom Coburn (R-Okla.)
  • Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.)
  • John Hoeven (R-N.D.)
  • John McCain (R-Ariz.)
  • Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
  • Mike Johanns (Neb.)
  • Lindsey Graham (S.C.)
  • Richard Burr (N.C.)
  • Dan Coats (Ind.)

Republican senators Pat Toomey (Pa.), Ron Johnson (Wis.), and Saxby Chambliss (Ga.) also dined with the president. However, unlike the names mentioned in the above, they’ve participated the filibuster.

As of this writing, Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert (Texas), Paul Gosar (Ariz.), Bill Huizenga (Mich.), Michael C. Burgess (Texas), Keith Rothfus (Pa.), & Jim Bridenstine (Okla.) have arrived in the senate chamber as a show of support for the Kentucky senator.

Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin (Ill.) took to the floor to question Sen. Paul. He asked whether former President George W. Bush had the authority during 9/11 to shoot down hijacked planes. Sen. Paul responded by saying that a military response to an actual attack on U.S. soil is different from what he has been talking about for 12 hours.

Sen. Durbin later asked whether Osama bin Laden was enough of an “imminent threat” for Seal Team Six to summarily execute. Sen. Paul responded with, “Touche.” However, the Kentucky senator should’ve probably just noted that bin Laden was neither a U.S. citizen nor was he on U.S. soil.

Also, via Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.), here’s the resolution Sen. Durbin rejected in the Senate:


And in case you were wondering, Sen. Ted Cruz never gave a “maiden speech,” according to BuzzFeed’s John Stanton. So, yes, Wednesday was the Texas senator’s first time speaking on the senate floor — and it was to back Sen. Rand Paul.

FINAL UPDATE: Sen. Rand Paul yields the floor, bringing his 12 hours and 52 minute filibuster to a close.

“I would go for another 12 hours to try and break Stromm Thurman’s record,” the senator said, “but I’ve discovered that there are some limits to filibustering and I’m going to have to take care of one of those in a few minutes.”

At approximately 12:41 a.m. ET, the senate adjourns.

Final Thought: Sen. Paul just told reporters that he “did not show up today planning to filibuster.” He was under the impression that the vote would be later.

However, once he discovered that Wednesday was the day to stage a filibuster, he went for it. This means that pretty much everything you just saw was unscripted. He was neither properly rested, fed, or prepped. Heck, he wasn’t even wearing “comfy shoes.”

That was all Sen. Paul.


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Featured image paul.senate.gov. This post has been updated.