Civil Liberties in Times of Emergency

With the capture and arrest of the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings, there are three opinion pieces I want you to read, as well as the first three paragraphs in particular from the front page of Thursday’s paper. As you hopefully know, at first authorities considered charging the surviving bomber as an enemy combatant, and deliberately decided not to Mirandize him once he regained consciousness. Remember that he is a naturalized US citizen captured on American soil and has so far not been tied to any international terrorist organizations.

http://www.stltoday.com/news/national/boston-bomb-investigation-extends-to-russia/article_047ec30a-d724-5b49-9811-c4c0941fd3dc.html (first three paragraphs are particularly important).

First, from an editorial from the Post-Dispatch: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/the-platform/editorial-president-or-terror-suspect-the-rule-of-law-applies/article_411048ff-1e15-5032-8b1c-9756bc4a7d93.html

And this one from conservative commentator George Will: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/george-will/george-will-the-shame-of-deference/article_20bdbf54-e3fd-5fdb-aab5-7d8bb93e623e.html

And from moderate Kathleen Parker: http://www.stltoday.com/news/opinion/columns/kathleen-parker/kathleen-parker-the-terror-of-not-knowing/article_033f880d-56ef-5535-b1c5-0b7df2d2b74b.html

This is a great chance to APPLY what we learn and use it to determine our course of action. It is also a good chance to review the Constitutional Amendments and Supreme Court decisions as well as other historical precedents that apply to our understanding of  civil liberties. We will be discussing this in class next Tuesday, April 30. Take notes and CONSIDER your answer to these questions:

What are civil liberties? What is the purpose of civil liberties? Are they negotiable or variable? What does history show us about limitations on civil liberties in times of war or crisis? What points does George Will make about previous instances of racially-based civil liberties decisions? What point does Kathleen Parker make about the ease of stripping those perceived as “alien” or “other” of their rights and claims to humanity?

Here is a link outlining very briefly the current case law on the matter of enemy combatants and civil liberties: http://web.law.duke.edu/publiclaw/civil/index.php?action=showtopic&topicid=24

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