Paul blasts nominee as cloture vote nears

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Wednesday that judicial nominee David Barron made up a legal defense for killing U.S. citizens out of “whole cloth” because no legal precedent existed.

“I rise in opposition of the killing of American citizens without trial,” Paul said on the Senate floor. “Any nominee who rubber stamps and grants that power to the president is not worthy of being one step away from the Supreme Court.”

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President Obama has nominated Barron to serve on the First Circuit Court of Appeals, but lawmakers have questioned the nomination because of his controversial legal memos.

Barron wrote the legal justification for drone strikes that killed U.S. citizens in Yemen who were suspected of being terrorists. Paul said no jury convicted the men of being terrorists, therefore the administration had no right to kill them.

“Are we comfortable killing them based on accusations that no jury has reviewed?” Paul asked. “It is easy to argue for trials for the prom queen … not terrorists.

“Due process is about protecting everyone especially minorities.”

At 12:15 p.m., the Senate will vote to end debate on Barron’s nomination. If cloture is invoked, his final confirmation vote will be Thursday afternoon.

Paul has threatened to filibuster Barron’s nomination but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) filed cloture on the nominee last week, meaning Paul can’t stop the vote since the Senate rule change allows Democrats to end debate with a simple majority instead of 60 votes.

Paul would need at least five Democrats to vote against ending debate on Barron’s nominations, but last week the administration held a meeting with Senate Democrats to reassure them and shore up support. The administration also announced Tuesday that they'd release the memos to the public — something that will likely sway some Democrats who were on the fence.

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