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March 9: Rand Paul, drones, overestimating voters' conservatism

On Saturday's Up w/ Chris Hayes, we'll discuss the legal justifications for the administration's use of drones. On Wednesday, Sen.
Sen. Rand Paul filibustering on the Senate floor Thursday in Washington, D.C. (Senate Television/AP Photo)
Sen. Rand Paul filibustering on the Senate floor Thursday in Washington, D.C.

On Saturday's Up w/ Chris Hayes, we'll discuss the legal justifications for the administration's use of drones. On Wednesday, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) launched a nearly 13-hour-long talking filibuster of White House counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan's nomination to head the CIA, over Brennan's involvement in the administration's secret drone program. Paul was objecting to Attorney General Eric Holder's refusal to definitively rule out the use of lethal force, such as a drone strike, on American soil.

After Paul's filibuster, Holder wrote to him on Thursday, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil? The answer is no. The answer to that question is no." Republicans hailed Holder's note as a victory, and went on to confirm John Brennan as CIA Director with a vote of 63-34. Despite Brennan's confirmation, much remains unknown about the legal basis and logistics of the drone program. And it remains unclear whether that legal reasoning could be expanded to include American citizens on American soil.

Then we'll turn to one of the enduring and mystifying paradoxes of American politics: Why do politicians on both sides of the aisle seem to have a much larger appetite for conservative policies than the voters do? Why are lawmakers always talking about "entitlement reform" and spending cuts when most Americans oppose cuts to social insurance programs and support policies that would reduce income differences through more aggressive taxation? A fascinating new working paper from two political science graduate students offers a possible answer: Politicians tend to vastly overestimate just how conservative their constituents are. We'll have one of the authors of the working paper at the table, and we'll ask what the stunning findings say about the state of American politics.

And finally, we'll examine another recent filibuster which garnered much less public attention than Rand Paul's. Republicans have been preventing the Senate from acting on President Obama's nomination of Caitlin Halligan, the former solicitor general of New York State, to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for nearly two and a half years. Republicans say their objections are due in part to the fact that, when Halligan served as New York's solicitor general , she signed a legal brief arguing that gun manufacturers could be held liable for criminal acts committed with their guns. We'll examine the substance of the Republicans' opposition to Halligan's nomination as well as the implications for the court, and for President Obama's judicial nominees.

Joining Chris on Saturday at 8 AM ET will be:

Tim Carney (@TPCarney), senior political columnist for the Washington Examiner, visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, author of "Obamanomics:How Barack Obama Is Bankrupting You and Enriching His Wall Street Friends, Corporate Lobbyists, and Union Bosses."

Kiron Skinner (@KironSkinner), director of Carnegie Mellon University's Center for International Relations and Politics, research fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. She formerly served on the U.S. Defense Policy Board (2001-2007) as an adviser on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and acted as a foreign policy adviser to both Mitt Romney's and Newt Gingrich's presidential campaigns.

Dan Baum (@danielsbaum), author of "Gun Guys: A Road Trip."

Laura Murphy, director of the ACLU's Washington legislative office.

Nan Aron (@NanAron), president of Alliance for Justice.

Jeff Smith (@JeffSmithMO), assistant professor at The New School for Management and Urban Policy, former Missouri State Senator (2006-2009).

Maya Wiley (@mayawiley), founder and president of the Center for Social Inclusion.

Christopher Skovron (@cskovron), political science graduate student at the University of Michigan, co-author of "What Politicians Believe about their Constituents: Asymmetric Misperceptions & Prospects for Constituency Control."