Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama

Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama : A Story of Poor Custodians

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This book is a history of the civil liberties records of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It examines the full range of civil liberties issues: First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press and assembly; due process; equal protection, including racial justice, women's rights, and lesbian and gay rights; privacy rights, including reproductive freedom; and national security issues. The book argues that presidents have not protected or advanced civil liberties, and that several have perpetrated some of the worst violations. Some Democratic presidents (Wilson and Roosevelt), moreover, have violated civil liberties as badly as some Republican presidents (Nixon and Bush). This is the first book to examine the full civil liberties records of each president (thus, placing a president's record on civil rights with his record on national security issues), and also to compare the performance on particular issues of all the presidents more

Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 9 b/w illus.
  • 1139061267
  • 9781139061261

Table of contents

1. Introduction: presidents and civil liberties; Part I. The Early Years: 2. Woodrow Wilson and the suppression of civil liberties in World War I; 3. Harding, Coolidge, and Hoover: civil liberties in the wilderness; 4. Franklin D. Roosevelt: the mixed legacy of a strong president; Part II. Civil Liberties in the Cold War and Civil Rights Eras: 5. Harry Truman: courage and contradictions; 6. Dwight D. Eisenhower: a failure of presidential leadership; 7. John F. Kennedy: the failed promise of the new frontier; 8. The glory and the tragedy of Lyndon Johnson; 9. Richard Nixon: a singular abuse of presidential power; Part III. The Post-Watergate Era: 10. Gerald Ford: a minor president in very interesting times; 11. Jimmy Carter: failed president, good civil libertarian; 12. Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush: the neo-conservative assault on civil liberties; 13. Bill Clinton: the divided soul of a 'new democrat'; Part IV. Civil Liberties in the Age of Terrorism: 14. George W. Bush: the worst president ever on civil liberties; 15. Reflections on presidents, civil liberties, and democracy with observations on Barack more

Review quote

'Sam Walker, one of the nation's most important historians of civil liberties, offers a magisterial and nuanced overview of the troubled relationships between presidents and civil liberties from Wilson to Obama. This invaluable guide makes clear that no matter what party holds executive office, civil libertarians must look beyond the President for protection of, much less progress on, civil liberties.' David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center '... [an] exciting, important book ... It is an engaging, fascinating, eye-opening, impressively researched and thoughtful discussion of such a vital topic. To the credit of the author, the book is scrupulously fair and non-partisan, taking special pains to dispel stereotypes, shibboleths and oversimplifications about particular presidents and political parties. The initial exploration of the Obama Administration's record, putting it into the overall historical context, is very important - critical but fair.' Nadine Strossen, New York Law School and former President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008)show more

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