Press Releases

Bill would prohibit indefinite detention of U.S. citizens without trial, charge

Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) today introduced the Due Process Guarantee Act, a bill to protect Americans from being detained indefinitely, without trial or charge.

The Due Process Guarantee Act amends the Non-Detention Act of 1971 by clarifying that a congressional authorization for the use of military force does not authorize the indefinite detention – without trial or charge – of U.S. citizens who are apprehended domestically.

The bill also codifies a “clear-statement rule” that requires Congress to expressly authorize detention authority when it comes to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents. The protections for citizens and lawful permanent residents is limited to those apprehended in the United States and excludes citizens who take up arms against the United States on a foreign battlefield.

“Our Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to due process,” said Senator Feinstein. “We shouldn’t suspend that right when Congress authorizes the use of military force. Our criminal justice system has proven it can convict terrorism suspects within the bounds of law. We need to unequivocally state that the government cannot indefinitely detain American citizens apprehended inside this country without trial or charge.”

“America should never waver in vigilantly pursuing those who would commit, or plot to commit, acts of treason against our country,” said Senator Lee. “But the federal government should not be allowed to indefinitely imprison any American on the mere accusation of treason without affording them the due process guaranteed by our Constitution. By forbidding the government from detaining Americans without trial absent explicit congressional approval, the Due Process Guarantee Act strikes the right balance between protecting our security and the civil liberties of each citizen.”

The bill is cosponsored by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), and Susan Collins (R-Maine).