There have been numerous stands against the US drone policy, most notably from Rand Paul, but the latest from a federal judge is perhaps the most articulate. Simply put, the Executive branch cannot have the power to nullify constitutional rights without some sort of check — the most explicit concept of the American government.
The judge remarked that she understood the “political question doctrine,” and said she, as a judge, had applied it. She went on, bluntly: “I understand the law, but what I am trying to understand is, where is this cabined?…The Executive is not an effective check on the Executive with regard to an individual’s rights. You cannot ask a judge to hold that only the Executive will check himself.”
The constitutional limit, she suggested, “is the courthouse door.
And yet you say there is no courthouse door.” When Hauck countered that the President had been working in tandem with Congress to keep the drone policy in check, Judge Collyer said that “the Constitution has [established] three branches. But you say that Articles I and II overcome the obligation of an Article III court to interpret the Constitution….I consider us a nation of laws. That’s what we’re talking about. Everyone from the President down to the homeless person has to follow the law. Your argument has no end to it.”
She added: “You claim full authority for the President and Congress, with no oversight [from a court]. That is very troubling.”
In case this does happen, at least one town in Colorado will be able to fight back. They proposed a bill that will allow licensed hunters to shoot down drones and would also allow any citizen feeling threatened by a drone to shoot it.
“Whereas, many Western communities in rural America provide monetary incentives (bounties) for the killing of predators that are injurious to Man and his interests, the Town of Deer Trail likewise establishes hunting licenses and bounties for the killing of unmanned aerial vehicles, in keeping with the Western traditions of sovereignty and freedom,” reads the ordinance proposed by Deer Train resident Phillip Steel (you can see the text here). Bagging a part of a U.S. government drone, such as a wing or fuselage, will garner the hunter $25. Shooting down a whole drone earns $100. However, there are restrictions. The license costs $25 per year, and the applicants must read and understand English (perhaps because of fears that the drone-hunting bounty will draw illegal workers who will displace U.S. citizens?).
Brilliant. So in the case that the Executive branch sneaks their plans by a court, we'll at least have somewhere to go when the drones turn on us.