Civil Liberties

Government Is Lousy at Protecting Civil Liberties, Say Americans

People doubt the government's role as a protector but send mixed messages about their value of freedom.

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Disappointment in government brings an otherwise divided country together once again, as Americans lose faith in the state's ability to protect civil liberties. Granted, people are often their own worst enemies, threatening the freedom of those they don't like. But there's a realistic and growing recognition of the danger posed by the powers-that-be, and loss of confidence in their supposed roles as protectors.

"In 2011, 10 years after the terrorist attack, nearly two-thirds were willing to sacrifice rights and freedoms to protect the country from terrorism" finds a recent Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (AP-NORC) poll. More recently, "just over half were willing to surrender their civil rights and freedoms to combat terrorism."

More remarkably, when asked about specific rights, the percentage of the public saying the government does a good job protecting them has declined sharply in the past decade. In 2011, 84 percent of respondents said the U.S. government did a good job protecting the right to vote; that dropped to 43 percent in 2021. For peaceful assembly, the number dropped from 75 percent to 42 percent. For freedom of speech, it dropped from 71 percent to 45 percent. For freedom of religion, from 75 percent to 51 percent. For the right to trial by an impartial jury, from 67 percent to 44 percent. For the right to keep and bear arms, from 57 percent to 35 percent, and so on. In fact, for none of the rights about which people were polled have the numbers done anything but drop in terms of people's confidence about government protections.

Of course, given that everything is subject to partisan considerations, members of the political tribes don't necessarily see eye-to-eye on how well officials respect our rights.

"Democrats tend to see the government as doing a good job at protecting various rights and freedoms, while Republicans are more inclined to say the government is doing a poor job. However, there are no significant partisan differences regarding the right to vote, freedom from cruel and unusual punishment, freedom from punishment without trial, equal protection under the law, or freedom from unreasonable search and seizure," AP-NORC adds. Independents, for their part, either split the difference between Republicans and Democrats (such as on freedom of speech and of the press) or are especially dubious about government protections (such as for freedom from punishment without trial and the right to vote).

Of particular interest after the 9/11 attacks and since the 2013 revelations by Edward Snowden about the pervasive surveillance that followed is AP-NORC's separate report about plummeting support for such snooping. It seems that government eavesdropping has little in the way of a fan base.

"Twenty years after 9/11, less than 3 in 10 adults consider warrantless government analysis of internet activities and communications an acceptable means for monitoring threats against the U.S.," the poll finds.

Support for government monitoring of domestic phone calls was never high, but has fallen from 23 percent in 2011 to 14 percent in 2021. Support for monitoring phone calls outside the United States fell from 49 percent to 28 percent. Support for monitoring internet searches fell from 48 percent to 27 percent. And, for reading private emails, the numbers fell from 30 percent to 17 percent over those years. Some 60 percent of Americans do, however, continue to favor surveillance cameras in public places, though that's down by more than 10 percent.

It's as if years of intrusiveness, abusive politicians, and weaponization of the power of the state by officials against their political opponents have eroded the credibility of the U.S. government!

Unfortunately, officialdom's unreliability as a guardian of personal freedom doesn't come out of the blue—there's a constituency for that shakiness. For example, multiple polls in recent years have found that, while people voice support for free speech in the abstract, they're not so happy about protecting speech that upsets them.

"'The government should be able to take action against newspapers and TV stations that publish content that is biased, inflammatory, or false," agreed 57 percent of respondents to a 2019 Campaign for Free Speech poll. Never mind that "biased" and "inflammatory" are often in the eye of the beholder and core elements of expression, and "false" is a charge subject to new information and continued debate.

"College students broadly support free speech, yet increasingly favor restrictions on speech — particularly speech that targets minority groups," a 2020 Knight Foundation poll found. Forget that minorities are among those most likely to be on the receiving end of speech curbs allegedly crafted for their safety.

Notably, the American Civil Liberties Union has grown extremely ambivalent about defending liberties at odds with its staff's preferred outcomes on issues ranging from speech to medical coercion.

"To the ACLU's critics, its support of vaccine mandates is another sign that an organization that was often willing to take unpopular stances in the name of liberty has abandoned its roots to fall in line with progressivism," The Atlantic's Russell Berman commented last week.

Much of the public has simply lost patience with checks and balances that, by design, shield liberties by placing limits on the power of their preferred officials.

"While fewer than one in 10 Americans consistently supports an authoritarian option, a third of Americans 'dabble' in authoritarianism," the Democracy Fund Voter Study Group observed last year of popular support for "a strong leader who doesn't have to bother with Congress or elections."

Many people rightly doubt the credibility of government as a protector of civil liberties, but the public is sending very mixed messages about the value it places on freedom and on restrained power. To defend civil liberties only when you approve of their use, and if they don't get in the way of your favorite political leaders, is to not defend civil liberties at all.

But, whether or not they understand the implications, growing numbers of Americans are unimpressed by the protections the U.S. government offers for civil liberties across the board. They want government officials to back off their surveillance efforts, at home and abroad, and they're less willing than in the past to trade their freedom for empty promises.

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  1. To defend civil liberties only when you approve of their use, and if they don’t get in the way of your favorite political leaders, is to not defend civil liberties at all.

    Yup.

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  2. A picture of KAR at the top of the article. Nice of Reason to include someone from the commentariat.

  3. It is quite difficult to separate personal preferences from constitutional freedoms. Our leaders and advocacy groups exemplify this every day. No wonder people have been moving out of NY & CA.

    1. Folks have been dying to leave NY. And not just the ones that were in Cuomo’s elder care facilities.

      1. Many of them were dying to leave Michigan too.

    2. There seems to be a continual expansion of what is considered a right. I call this the hedonistic adaptation of rights. If there is any progress in society, it is eventually expected that everyone has a right to it. For example, access to high speed internet, cell phones, immediate access to the best health care. These are not rights, and the problem is that every time we move the bar on what is a right, it requires the government to expand to arbitrate disputes over that right.

      1. To finish out this thought, inevitably when the government expands, our real rights are lost.

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        2. That’s right. For your neighbor to have the “right” to eat cake, you have to bake it (since the government itself produces nothing). By recognizing an ever-increasing range of “rights” we invite the government to further impose on our labor / resources.

  4. So after decades of serving us one shit sandwich after another on the platter of “FreedomN’Equallity!”, you’re surprised it’s not a big selling point anymore?

  5. The first three words of the headline are an accurate summary.

    1. Yes. Government is a necessary evil. It should be kept to a minimum.

  6. It’s too a point where people are happy to give up their liberties if they believe it harms their enemies more, and government is more than happy to oblige.

    1. Then why did you vote for senile Joe

      1. So finally admit that you voted for Trump in order to give up liberties if it meant smiting your enemies. It would be refreshing of others were so honest.

        1. I knew this would veer into the “If only you dumb Trumpers would admit you were conned, then maybe I’ll concede Biden is bad, but not bad as Trump!”. That and you enjoy stirring the pot.

          1. What are you talking about? Biden is shitloads worse than Trump. But that doesn’t absolve Trump of what he did while in office or turn his followers back into whatever they were before they became drooling idiots.

            1. Lowest black unemployment in history?

        2. “So finally admit that you voted for Trump in order to give up liberties if it meant smiting your enemies. It would be refreshing of others were so honest.”

          As a TDS-addled lefty shit, sarc continues lying to deflect attention from his support of droolin’ Joe.
          Fuck off and die, asshole.

        3. That’s quite a leap. You really think people voted for Trump knowing they would lose constitutionally protected civil liberties?

    2. It’s worse than that, Americans openly mock and ridicule other Americans that advocate and cherish liberty.

      1. True believers have always put compliance and ideological purity first, and hated anyone who is not a member of the faith.

      2. I honestly can’t wrap my head around the mindset that leads someone to type “freedumb”

        1. True.

          Neither do I understand the mindset of those who scream racial epithets out of a speeding car.

          I do know they are the same mindset.

        2. I think it is narcissism.

          People unable to see why anyone would want to do things THEY don’t value. Or unable to care about what’s important to people (or part of society) they don’t understand.

          The concept of fundamental freedom as a force for positive change actually needs imagination to be understood. Society and modern life is unfathomably complex and diverse. Someone with empathy can see how a different community solves problems in a different way and not be threatened. A narcissist only thinks about what THEY want, know, and do, and cannot imagine other perspectives.

  7. The notion that all of our problems are caused by “too much freedom” is painfully widespread.

  8. ACLU was always just part of a long con. They never cared about civil liberties. They said they did because they wanted to protect their real anti-American ideology. Now that enemies of Americans are in control, the ACLU will never protect anyone from them.

  9. What the hell does the aclu know about defending civil librities?

    1. Isn’t that the issue?

      There was a day when they were the only ones willing to hold their nose when unpopular opinions that were legal were squished and defend them. Even Nazis, about the least popular of interest groups, whom ACLU defended when they wanted to hold a rally. I hate Illinois Nazis as much as Jake and Elwood, but defending the edge cases protected the more mainstream.

      I mean, that was over 40 years ago, I know, but now the change is complete.

      1. Defending the edge cases did protect the more mainstream, but the ACLU was defending those edge cases in order to defend a different edge case, communism. The defense of the mainstream was just a side benefit for us, not their actual goal.

        That’s why once the threat was coming from their own direction, they lost their interest in defending the edge cases, or even the mainstream. They were really just in it to protect the left from the right, and the left doesn’t need protection from itself.

  10. We no longer have any “give me liberty, or give me death” types of people.
    We are doomed to suffer.

    1. We have them, but now we just call a SWAT team that gladly gives them death.

  11. A government that uses violence against peaceful people is illegitimate.

    1. I’m putting that on a tee shirt. Is it a quote from someone else? I’d like to give proper credit.

  12. Again Reason sugar coats it for the Biden Administration.

    Government Is The Biggest Threat To Civil Liberties

  13. Can you really be said to be lousy at doing something, when you’re actually trying to do something else? I’m terrible at vegetarian cooking, when I’m grilling ribs.

    The government isn’t trying to protect civil liberties. It’s trying to abolish them.

  14. More remarkably, when asked about specific rights, the percentage of the public saying the government does a good job protecting them has declined sharply in the past decade. In 2011, 84 percent of respondents said the U.S. government did a good job protecting the right to vote; that dropped to 43 percent in 2021. For peaceful assembly, the number dropped from 75 percent to 42 percent. For freedom of speech, it dropped from 71 percent to 45 percent. For freedom of religion, from 75 percent to 51 percent. For the right to trial by an impartial jury, from 67 percent to 44 percent. For the right to keep and bear arms, from 57 percent to 35 percent, and so on. In fact, for none of the rights about which people were polled have the numbers done anything but drop in terms of people’s confidence about government protections.

    These are all rights which have been whipped up in the news as being under threat but which have not actually had any substantial change in their protection status recently. Many of those rights are in a bad spot, but they’ve been in a similarly bad spot for a long time. Do you really think 30% of the country just woke up to the gross infringement on their liberties in the past ten years or do you think Americans are just good at being whipped up into a frenzy about whatever the media titans decide they should care about this week?

    1. Well, you do have a point there, to some extent. Democrats have been trying to beat back anything resembling election security at the state level by calling it “vote suppression”, so likely a fair percentage of Democrats at this point think the right to vote is under assault, and wrongly by any rational measure.

      But some of our civil liberties are under actual attack. Censorship on social media is ramping up, and while some people will argue that it’s not a 1st amendment violation for platforms like Twitter or Facebook to deplatform people, or for hosting services like Amazon to cut off sites that refuse to join in, that’s still rationally understood to be a threat to freedom of speech.

      Likewise, there are some current trends at the BATF that would make people rationally worry about attacks on the RKBA, especially given the politics of the current administration.

      1. Which threats are real and which ones are conjured by media very much seems to depend on what media one consumes. Curious, no?

        When you step back though you realize that, for all the democratic saber rattling, there hasn’t been any notable movement on guns since Trump banned bump stocks and for the decade preceding that gun rights have actually been ascendant, ever since the Protection of Lawful Commerce Act and the Heller decision. To say that gun rights are in a worse place than they were ten years ago is questionable. To say they are in a worse place than they were twenty years ago is a flat out lie.

        I think people need to take a moment to seriously evaluate the specters that haunt them. I’m not saying there aren’t real problems. There are real (and many new!) issues with many of the freedoms we are supposed to have, but a lot of those issues aren’t new, and in many cases the issues people supposedly have (like voting access) aren’t issues at all or (like the right to bear arms) have actually been improving. But the shadows, apparently, have never seemed darker and I think it’s worth rethinking why that is.

        1. There’s also an amplifying factor to a lot of this in that there are paid rabblerousers and bots out there specifically banging on divisive issues.

          So, when a “threat” gets some traction, the forums in news site (including here), the reddits, the twitters, etc… all get filled up with posts supporting it so it looks like there’s a groundswell of support, or with posts muddying the waters so people are afraid and doubtful. Or just trash so people can no longer engage on the issue.

          Bandwagon theory is a thing. Propaganda works, and everyone from China to the political parties to private actors is using it to amplify divisions.

        2. I think the reason is Balkanization and that is coming from information disseminators.

          I can stay away from media for my mental health, but that’s not going to keep others away from it. That just makes it easier for media to tell my neighbors that my kids should be masked at school without me having the opportunity to push back.

          And I don’t really see any kind of a solution to this. Everyone has the same access to the same information and we have all of it at our finger tips, but that is overwhelming and we all go to what is easy to access. CNN and ABC are easily accessible. Facebook and Twitter are easily accessible.

          If your neighbors that access different information than you are prevented from making information easily (and unobtrusively) accessible to you, then are you really neighbors? You live in two different worlds and may be opposed to eachother with no way to effectively communicate.

          I need solutions to this. Some way to push my neighbors out of their houses and into the street talking and interacting with eachother.

        3. Support for gun control is really only politically strong in a few states, and in urban areas inside some other states. This has mostly limited the attack on such rights to being regional and local, not nation-wide. But the courts haven’t been much help here; Heller and McDonald were decided over a decade ago, and the Court has been refusing cases ever since. It’s as though after Brown the Court had decided to stop taking Jim Crow cases.

          But it would be a mistake to think there’s no threat. It’s like thinking there’s no battle going on just because the rope in a tug of war isn’t moving. There’s actually a vicious battle going on beneath the surface that’s producing that stasis.

          So there’s not much movement, but the threat itself is very real.

      2. “Democrats have been trying to beat back anything resembling election security at the state level by calling it “vote suppression”, so likely a fair percentage of Democrats at this point think the right to vote is under assault, and wrongly by any rational measure.”

        Both Republicans AND Democrats, given that unsecured elections are a bigger threat to voting rights, which include actually having your vote count.

      3. I’m surprised that manufacturers of ammunition are continuing so unmolested. You would think that the disarmers would try to cut off the supply of bullets—it would be much easier than taking away guns.

  15. If the people commenting here are any indication, they don’t recognize that inalienable rights protect freedom.

    Instead they deny the effects of someone else’s inalienable rights as wrongly limiting their freedom.

    1. I just noticed that Yom Kippur starts tonight. Shouldn’t you be doing your normal bullshit routine of telling everyone that the Kol Nidre means what it doesn’t?

      1. That’s a great idea and it sounds like you’re itching to refute it. Fill your boots.

        You’re referring to the Kol Nidre that will be chanted in synagogues all over the world at sunset today as Jews welcome the darkness of a new day.

        Their holiest prayer on their holiest day is clearly a plan to lie. The faithful can lie for another year with the comfort and blessing of their religion.

        If Satan is the father of lies, members of the Jewish religion are his faithful children.

        Here is the Kol Nidre text. The holiest Jewish prayer on the holiest Jewish day.

        “All vows, obligations, oaths, and anathemas [curses]which we may vow, or swear, or pledge, or whereby we may be bound, from this Day of Atonement until the next we do repent. May they be deemed absolved, forgiven, annulled, and void, and made of no effect: they shall not bind us nor have any power over us. The vows shall not be reckoned vows; the obligations shall not be obligations; nor the oaths be oaths.”

        1. “May they be”

          It’s a request, not a command, no different than “Forgive us our tresspasses” in the Lord’s Prayer. It’s also an acknowledgement than man cannot make a contract binding on God.

          Now go over the merriam-webster and cherry pick the definition of “may”.

          1. Word may has several uses in different contexts.

            “used in auxiliary function expressing purpose or expectation
            I laugh that I may not weep”

            Look at the context in the Kol Nidre.

            There is absolutely no indication of the desire not to lie again. In fact it is about declaring the expectation that all lies in the coming year will have no effect on the liars, faithful Jews.

            At least the Christians have, “lead us not into temptation” as an admission of wrongdoing and a desire not to do wrong again.

            1. “lead us not into temptation” is not an admission. It’s a request.

              1. After saying “forgive our trespasses”, “lead us not into temptation” is a request for help not to do wrong again, which together is an admission.

                What’s your point?

        2. It’s a way of saying, “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.” And in the previous week, you were supposed to try to make it up to people.

          1. And they were supposed to say, “That’s OK, I know you didn’t mean it.”

            1. That’s not saying you’re sorry.

      1. Abortion is one example.

        The baby’s inalienable right to life versus the mothers freedom to murder it.

        1. If God had wanted a fetus to have an inalienable right to life, then he wouldn’t have created a nine-month pregnancy.

          The politics of abortion is not about life.

          1. That would be funny if I didn’t think you were serious.

          2. That’s true, and it’s obviously feasible, given the existence of egg layers.

          3. That’s quite a leap. You really think people voted for Trump knowing they would lose constitutionally protected civil liberties?

          4. How long should God have made it?

        2. What about the woman’s property rights to her uterus?

          1. The issue is that by voluntarily spreading her legs, the woman chose to put another human in her body.

            How many women are too stupid to know that? Even so, the murderers stupidity is no excuse.

            1. I really hope you know contraceptives aren’t 100% effective and there’s also rape.

              1. Are you suggesting that women don’t know that?

              2. That doesn’t invalidate the life.

        3. Good example, this goes back to English Common Law and the balancing of rights vs one another. Canada has this is issue and it’s usually one particular political side whose rights win the day. I used to think that the Bill of Rights prevented this from happening in the US, but with the emerging fight for mandatory vaccines I’m not so sure.

          1. There is no exception to the baby’s inalienable right to life in the constitution.

            The baby didn’t aggressively put itself in the woman. She voluntarily invited another person in her body through her own choice of behaviour.

            If you invited someone onto your property for a nine month contract, and that person lived up to their end of the bargain, how could any court determine that you could kill them for being on your property for 9 months?

            1. What always strikes me as odd and bizarre is the claim by the pro abortionists that a fully developed baby birthed to term is a human being but, a baby aborted the day before full term is just biological matter and conscious choice of the mother. I think this is why they so vigorously oppose people being exposed to anti abortion material i.e., pictures of late term abortion photos outside of Planned Parenthood. It’s hard to argue that the pictures of a scrambled and dismembered fetus are not people but a “clump of cells”.

              1. Prior to being born you’re a potential human being when you’re born you become a human being. It’s literally in the description, human BEING.

                1. That statement denies science, the constitution and the definition of “being “.

                  Being: the quality or state of having existence

                  You can’t actually be suggesting that the baby doesn’t exist.

                  1. Not as a human. Fetuses die in the womb all the time.

                    1. Your latest lie is ridiculous and unsupported by science logic and the definition of human..

                      How desperate you must be.

                      Human: having the attributes of man as opposed to animals, divine beings, or machines

                      Are you actually suggesting that a baby is a machine?

                    2. Tell us what magical properties the birth canal imparts on a born baby that makes them human vs. the same baby before the trip down it’s mother’s vagina the day before. Please enlighten everybody with more of your stupidity.

                    3. Read, How should we then live, by Francis Schaeffer

              2. Genocide isn’t new.

                People who have decided that murder is an acceptable means to an end are desperate to believe and convince others of their virtue.

                They’ll throw the most ridiculous lies at the wall hoping one sticks. Unless we refute them publicly.

            2. There is no exception to the baby’s inalienable right to life in the constitution.

              Here’s what the Constitution says:

              All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States

              If the authors had meant “all persons conceived…” they would have said so.

              1. See how you cherry picked the first sentence of the 14th amendment but left out the relevant part.

                “ nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

                You’re desperate and pathetic.

                1. But it specifies that “persons” are “born”. Had they meant otherwise, they could have said so.

                  1. Nowhere does define persons as born.

                    The 14th amendment refers to born persons as citizens.

                    All other persons are protected by the inalienable right to life.

                    1. Torture it all you like; it says what it says.

                    2. Dipshit.

                      By saying “born or naturalized” they are referring to the criteria of citizenship.

                      Unless you’re claiming that people are also only “ persons” if they are “naturalized”.

                      Is that it fuckwit?

  16. “Government Is Lousy at Protecting Civil Liberties, Say Americans”

    And for the past decade, Reason, CATO and many other self proclaimed libertarians have been lousy at protecting civil liberties, say most libertarians and Reason readers.

    1. Being powerless to stop something is the same as being responsible for it?

  17. So where are we now on the Tytler Cycle?

    1. Don’t know about anyone else. I am somewhere in the apathy phase.

    2. I’m perpetually stuck at spiritual faith…

    3. Somewhere between Beamtenherrschaft and Unordnung.

  18. It’s nice too see that picture of the ACLU observer, probably making sure that Proud Boys don’t have their civil rights violated.

  19. “More recently, ‘just over half were willing to surrender their civil rights and freedoms’…”

    Still screwed. Count on mass of urban Democrats to vote for whatever makes them feel best

  20. And I thought this was a libertarian site. You have to stick to be an absolutist on the basic rights. For example 1A.

    It doesn’t caveat at all. All speech is free. When you point out that the ACKU defended the Nazi’s right to speak in the past folks get all uptight and say well 1A doesn’t protect Nazi’s. Sure it does. And if it doesn’t it will soon be used by those in power to suppress speech they don’t like.

    Look at the J6 protestor prosecutions. The vast majority are charges with trespassing but they are being held without bail in many cases because the DOJ and the judges don’t like their speech. Its not the trespassing, which is the law they broke, it is their speech these folks disagree with that is driving our alleged justice system.

    Can’t have it

    1. >>It doesn’t caveat at all. All speech is free.

      exactly.

    2. I was in Skokie then. The city tried to block the permit because it was a potentially dangerous situation. You had a handful of Nazis and a lot of very angry Jews there. Some of my tougher friends were ready to take them on. I was high school age then.

      The Nazis won their lawsuit but for some reason never showed up. Maybe they had a flat tire or something. The Nazis had a rally in another place.

      There is no excuse for storming the Capitol when the full congress was in session. It is not mere trespassing. It has nothing to do with freedom of speech. The majority who stood outside singing songs and carrying signs are not being charged with anything.

      The president is surrounded by marines and secret service. You can’t just break windows and storm into the White House. Congress has similar protection and should. They are in considerable danger from the nut jobs out there.

      To call it mere trespassing is dissembling.

      I don’t care if you are BLM, Proud Boys, whatever.

      1. I hate Illinois Nazis.

      2. “There is no excuse for storming the Capitol when the full congress was in session.”

        1. If the nice Capitol Police Officer is holding the door open, you aren’t “storming the Capitol.”
        2. Remember the folks who disrupted the Kavanaugh hearings? They aren’t locked up.

      3. I know it was wreckinball that is claiming that the charges against the J6 defendants is trespassing but that’s not the most serious charge. To your point about violence, very few people have been charged with acts of violence. Out of the 600 or so people being indicted for J6 less than a dozen or so are being charged with acts of violence. Almost everybody’s most serious charge, including the Qanon shaman/Viking (which he has plead guilty to) is the Obstruction of an Official Proceeding By Corrupt Means. This statute and analogous statutes have been misused and abused by the Justice Department and the courts have constantly corrected them on it. It’s interesting to see what is actually happening and contrasting it to what people think is happening. This is going to end up like the Russia Hoax, much ado about nothing.

  21. >>nearly two-thirds were willing to sacrifice rights and freedoms to protect the country from terrorism

    because sold a lie and a scary boogeyman

  22. The pandemic is another example. There are zero words in the constitution that it can be suspended. All the ” Legal Eagles” including the VC here at Reason think that of course it just makes sense that such a provision would exist. Therefore obviously it does.

    I believe exactly the exact opposite. There is no suspension clause because the founders could envision executives declaring faux emergencies to grab power and control. Which is exactly what happened.

    1. “Time has proven the discernment of our ancestors, for even these provisions (of the Bill of Rights), expressed in such plain English words that it would seem the ingenuity of man could not evade them, are now, after the lapse of more than seventy years, sought to be avoided. Those great and good men foresaw that troublous times would arise when rulers and people would become restive under restraint, and seek by sharp and decisive measures to accomplish ends deemed just and proper, and that the principles of constitutional liberty would be in peril unless established by irrepealable law. The history of the world had taught them that what was done in the past might be attempted in the future. The Constitution of the United States is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and covers with the shield of its protection all classes of men, at all times and under all circumstances. No doctrine involving more pernicious consequences was ever invented by the wit of man than that any of its provisions can be suspended during any of the great exigencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism, but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false, for the government, within the Constitution, has all the powers granted to it which are necessary to preserve its existence, as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority.”—Supreme Court Justice David Davis, Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866)

  23. Governance by poll outcomes. What utter bullshit.

  24. Granted, people are often their own worst enemies, threatening the freedom of those they don’t like. But there’s a realistic and growing recognition of the danger posed by the powers-that-be, and loss of confidence in their supposed roles as protectors.

    This is not the conundrum it seems to be.

    Civil Rights is a fungible goods. Your freedom to do ‘x’ can be seen as a violation of my civil rights. For instance, if speech is literal violence, then you can see how someone might see the government as failing to protect me from violence by allowing the free speech of another individual.

    My liberty to set my own bathroom policy on my property is seen as anti trans.

    My right to criticize or even insult someone on Twitter is seen as a hate speech towards a protected group.

    My freedom to own a firearm… and so on.

  25. No kidding! Just ask the brothers.

  26. The average person isn’t very smart and is easily manipulated hence our present situation.

    1. Has nothing to do with intelligence. 100% of people are genetically related to dogs. The nanosecond humans began to figure out to manipulate dogs with a bell, then humans could figure out how to manipulate humans. The more we understand about humans, the more humans can manipulate us.

      1. The more we understand about humans, the more humans can manipulate us.

        And the more we can learn about human manipulation and resist it.

        1. No. You can no more resist it than you can resist being homo sapiens.

  27. I think surveillance cameras are among the few improvements we’ve gotten in public safety lately. I see nothing wrong with the police having better vision. I see it as going along very well with having them wear cameras that are always on.

    To oppose surveillance camera use by police is to take the same side as defunding the police. If the police shouldn’t be in places electronically, then they shouldn’t be there bodily either. And if they’re nowhere, they don’t exist.

    1. Better that public surveillance cameras is a new inalienable right made possible with technology.

      To have the inalienable right to record everything you witness.

      Making even police actions transparent.

      Not only will multiple angles of every event be recorded but the technology could be developed to link these recordings in real time to track any criminal everywhere they go. Ending abductions immediately. Etc

  28. I’ve never been a big fan of the ACLU, but I used to understand their place. Now they seem to only cover some people’s Civil Liberties. They are supposed to be fighting all Government that are trying to damage civil liberties.

    1. They’ve picked a side. If you happen to be on the opposite side, anything the government does to you is A-OK with them.

  29. So Americans don’t think the fox is very good at protecting the chicken house? What a surprise.

  30. The Nazi-Regime isn’t the USA…. The USA is defined by the U.S. Constitution. All the rest is just feeding the Nazi Troll and building the Nazi-Regime.

  31. The punch line of course is that Reason still thinks libertarianism can fix this decline and not a return to common sense Lincoln Republican conservatism.

  32. In the past year or so we have seen government shutter churches, ban public gatherings, ask social media companies to censor people, refuse to provide information to the public unless forced by a court, and talk openly about banning so-called ‘assault rifles’ (actually just semi-automatic rifles that look mean) despite them being the most popular home defense weapons in the country and the most INFREQUENT weapon used in crime. Why would anyone think the government is trying to protect your civil liberties. Add to that unconstitutional vaccine passports and mask mandates imposed despite ample evidence that they do not work and only a fool would trust the government’s judgement on anything.

  33. Wolf is Lousy at Protecting Straw Houses, Say Pigs

  34. The government doesn’t care about civil liberties. Those in congress don’t care either. They don’t care. They would just as soon take away the Bill of Rights and our civil liberties as look at you. In fact they probably hate looking at you as well. They hate you. They despise you. They see you as nothing more than cattle and some one to rob in the form of taxes of which they can never get enough of.
    They view the lot of us as plebes, proles , easily controlled and brainwashed. They all lie to you, deceive you, feed you bull shit and propaganda and even worse they expect you to believe them.
    It all starts with what passes for “public education” which is really dumbing down children to the same dull level of an easily maintained populace of taxpaying droolers, occupied with celebrity and sports and the lastest scandal and shoveling fast food garbage down their maws.
    That’s why our freedoms and liberties are being slowly but surely sucked out of America to be replace by authoritarianism, the likes of which, will have never been dreamed of or imagined.

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