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US Civil Liberties

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Thomas Chapman

on 28 February 2013

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Transcript of US Civil Liberties

The Constitution is balanced It is arguable that the Constitution is balanced and this is highlighted by the US PATRIOT Act, The reaction to the Newtown massacre, the proceedings at Guantanamo Bay. In all cases it has been noted that there is a serious threat to homeland security and active decisions have been made to maintain security; meanwhile it does not excessively limit the civil liberties of the innocent individual.

Rasul v Bush (2004), Handan v. Rumsfeld (2006) and Boumediene v. Bush (2008) all highlight the ability of the constituion to organically change, these cases all provided significant changes to the running and actions within Guantanamo Bay, thus creating harmony between successful detention and maintain crucial civil liberties.

It would be argued that the Constitution allows, the long term protection of Civil Liberties for a temporary loss. It provides the room to be reactionary for the short term to protect security and in turn civil liberties and then in due course the judiciary is able to maintain civil liberties. This is most notable with Lincoln suspending Habeas Corpus in order to ensure the protection of the United States from the Confederates. Conclusion In conclusion it would seem that there are times when the US Constitution has been largely ineffective in controlling an excess of power, however this perhaps not because of the constitution directly,but that the constitution is seen as unalterable document too often, where as it is arguable that its success lies in its ability to be successfully interpreted and evolve, as such its definitions of civil liberties are malleable. However the US PATRIOT Act is an example where civil liberties have been seriously endangered. This does not mean however does not in itself disrepute the credibility of the act, it can be argued that sometimes in times of crisis certain liberties must be forgone in the short term for their protection in the long run. By Thomas Chapman How effective has the US Constitution been in defending civil liberties at a time of heightened concern about homeland security? The Constitution is too flexible Perhaps most prominent is the treatment of Japanese-Americans in suggesting that the Constitution is too flexible. It allowed innocent US citizens to be rounded up and segregated because of their ancestry, it suggest that perhaps their is too much room to maneuver and this can lead to abuse of the key civil liberties.

Guantanamo Bay also indicates that the Constitution is too flexible as the US government were able to detain people without trial and the proceed to torture and abuse them, it would seem it is this sort of behavior that the Constitution was designed to specifically prevent.

The US PATRIOT Act again can suggest that the Constitution is not strong enough. This is because George Bush was able to push through legislation (largely due to the emotional, non-rational response of Congress to 9/11) which enable federal agents powers which significantly threatened the liberties of innocent american citizens.

Finally many Republicans would argue that the executive actions proposed by Obama after the Newtown Massacre are violation of the right to bear arms granted by the 2nd amendment. Civil Liberties are paramount but the supreme court is ineffective Introduction In recent years the threat of terrorism has meant that one of the fundamental functions of the Constitution has come into conflict with the maintaining of national security. The US Constitution enshrines fundamental liberties that all citizens are entitled to, however since 9/11 it is arguable that these liberties have become somewhat a subordinate to national security. President Lincoln suspends constituional freedoms during Civil War Abuse of the Civil Liberties of Japanese-Americans during WWII Guantanamo Bay Rasul v Bush (2004),
Handan v. Rumsfeld (2006)
Boumediene v. Bush (2008) Bush administration response to 9/11 US PATRIOT Act Views of Civil Liberty Groups Obama’s response to the Newtown massacre and the response of Pro Gun groups Joshua Kleinfeld, an author who has researched this issue, wrote that 'when Lincoln suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus, he clothed himself with more power then any individual had possessed in America before, or since' During his term as president Lincoln suspended Habeas Corpus, which protect Americans from being imprisoned unjustly, it essentially creates a gap between freedom and despotism. In 1942 the US Government relocated 110,000 Japanese-Americans into "War Relocation Camps".

In 1944, the Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the exclusion orders, while noting that the provisions that singled out people of Japanese ancestry were a separate issue outside the scope of the proceedings. Quantanamo Bay has caused major legal issues worldwide. Its detainees are thought to be tortured and abused, however the US government insist that the detention camp is essential in the War on Terror. Fundamentally the reason the torture etc. was allowed at Guantanamo was due to the detainees being described as "enemy combatants" and therefore were without legal protection, and in particular the protection of the Geneva Convention

In these three cases the Supreme Court essentially limited the executive power and concluded that the all detainees has the writ to Habeas Corpus and the protection of the Geneva Convention. After 9/11, the Bush administration responded with a strategy that included two elective wars, illegal surveillance, indefinite detention without trial of both citizens and non-citizens, torture, secret prisons, ethnic and religious profiling, infiltration and intimidation of activist groups, dereliction of multiple international human rights agreements, and support for brutal pro-U.S. dictators overseas. Both liberal and conservative groups alike have criticized the U.S. Patriot Act, passed in the wake of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, because they say it violates probable cause and due process rights protected by the Constitution of the United States.

The Patriot Act significantly expanded the power of U.S. law enforcement by giving them unprecedented authority to track and follow terrorists. The act also gave terrorism investigators access to evidence-gathering tools that agents in criminal inquiries have been able to use for years, but some see these powers as being unconsitutional. Our way forward lies in decisively turning our backs on the policies and practices that violate our greatest strength: our Constitution and the commitment it embodies to the rule of law. Liberty and security do not compete in a zero-sum game; our freedoms are the very foundation of our strength and security. The ACLU's National Security Project advocates for national security policies that are consistent with the Constitution, the rule of law, and fundamental human rights. The Project litigates cases relating to detention, torture, discrimination, surveillance, censorship, and secrecy. President Obama has proposed to introduce a series of measures to control the possession of firearms and to prohibit the selling of assault rifles. This in sum contradicts with the right to bear arms as ascribed in the 2nd amendment. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/16/obama-executive-actions-gun-violence Feedback - It is clear that the Us Constitution does first and foremost seek to protect the civil liberties of Americans, however there are instances where due to the nature of the supreme court it has been too easy for a president to put legislation through congress and then has been insufficiently checked by the Supreme Court, this is perhaps most obvious with the USA PATRIOT Act and Bush's response to the events of 9/11. Bush had managed to appoint sympathizers to his policy in the supreme court and therefore little argument was put forward to the acts passed.

However, Rasul v Bush (2004), Handan v. Rumsfeld (2006) and Boumediene v. Bush (2008) are all cases which may go so far as suggesting that the supreme Court is in fact doing its job in insuring that there is no an excess of power, the reduction in power of detention that Guantanamo Bay had is a significant suggestion of this.
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