Executive Session

Floor Speech

By:  Mitch McConnell
Date: Oct. 3, 2011
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, I will vote to confirm Judge Henry Floyd to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit despite my strong disagreement with his ruling in an important case that involved our national security. As a Federal district court judge in 2005, Judge Floyd ruled that the President of the United States did not have the authority to detain as an enemy combatant Jose Padilla, the so-called Dirty Bomber, because Mr. Padilla was an American citizen who was apprehended in the United States. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed Judge Floyd in that case. The Fourth Circuit noted, correctly in my view, that under the plain language of the Authorization for Use of Military Force and the plurality opinion of the Supreme Court in Hamdi versus Rumsfeld, the place of Mr. Padilla's eventual capture was immaterial to the authority of the Commander-in-Chief to detain him as an enemy combatant. Mr. Padilla had associated himself with al-Qaida in Afghanistan during hostilities against U.S. forces. Mr. Padilla then fled to Pakistan, whereupon he met with Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who directed him to travel to the United States to blow up apartment buildings. Mr. Padilla was in the United States at the time of his capture in order to carry out this mission. As a result, the Fourth Circuit correctly held that the President could properly designate and detain Mr. Padilla as an enemy combatant. Judge Floyd erred in adopting a rule that would, in essence, allow enemy combatants to escape military jurisdiction if they simply succeed in entering--or re-entering--the United States--and in Mr. Padilla's case, for the purpose of conducting additional and lethal operations against the United States and its citizens.

Judge Floyd has had an accomplished legal career, and has served with distinction as a state and federal judge for nearly two decades. Because of this lengthy and distinguished judicial record, I supported his nomination to the Fourth Circuit, despite my serious disagreement with his ruling in the Padilla case.


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