Utah lawmakers sound off against federal detention bill
Utah lawmakers are urging Congress to repeal the National Defense Authorization Act, alarmed that the bill could permit the indefinite detention of U.S. citizens.
A resolution making its way through the Utah House requests that Congress either repeal or clarify the intent of the act "to protect the rights guaranteed by the United States Constitution and the Utah Constitution."
The bill would give the military the power to detain citizens who support terrorist organizations without a trial until the end of hostilities.
Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, said that over time even well-intentioned federal legislation has expanded, and "I have a legitimate fear this National Defense Authorization law will do the same thing."
The resolution, which is nonbinding, has the support of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Utah Eagle Forum.
"Our concern is in the definition of 'terrorist,' " said the Eagle's Forum's Dalane England.
Marina Lowe, government counsel with the ACLU, said there is concern the law could lead to violations of civil rights, and the fact that there is at least ambiguity about the act means it should be reconsidered.
Virginia recently passed legislation prohibiting state employees or resources from being used to enforce the federal act.
Other states, including Washington and Arizona, are considering similar bills.
Lowe said there was discussion of passing binding legislation in Utah, but Weiler opted for the resolution.