House members attempt to curb president's power of indefinite detention

Last month, these members supported nearly identical language as an amendment to the NDAA, known as the Amash-Smith amendment, but it was rejected 182-231. In that vote, only 19 Republicans voted for it.

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Supporters of the bill, H.R. 5936, argue that under the NDAA as approved, the president could declare a U.S. citizen as an enemy of the state and indefinitely detain that person. While opponents say Americans do not lose their right to habeas corpus, or a hearing before the court, supporters say that would not necessarily be enough to save an American from indefinite detention, if it was claimed they were associating with terrorists.

Under the bill, anyone detained on U.S. soil would have all due rights and liberties under the Constitution. The bill would also terminate the ability of the administration to hold suspects in mandatory military detention in some cases.

Rather than accept the Amash-Smith amendment to the NDAA, the House accepted one from Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) and Scott Rigell (R-Va.), which affirmed that U.S. citizens would not be denied habeas corpus rights. During debate, Gohmert argued that the Amash-Smith language would go too far, potentially giving illegal immigrants who commit terrorist acts rights in the United States rights to which they are not due.

Amash and Smith, however, say the Constitution grants rights to anyone arrested on US soil, not just U.S. citizens, and that their amendment was designed to protect those rights. They also argue that the courts have shown they are able to bring terrorist subjects to justice.