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Civil liberty movements Research Paper


Introduction

The respect and protection of human rights is extremely important and as a result, several organizations have been on the forefront of protecting human rights.

The actions of these organizations have led to the growth of civil liberty movements. The actions of civil liberty organizations have been supported by many people, but it has also found condemnation from different quarters.

Civil Liberty Issue

The terrorist attacks that affected the United States of America during the September 2001 had a significant effect on American history. As a result, the attacks brought to the fore the delicate issue of security into the public domain. The United States government enacted the Patriot Act as a counter measure of fighting terrorism in the country.

The enactment of the Patriot Act caused a lot of problems for civil liberty groups who were opposed to some of the provisions in the Patriot Act. Most civil liberty activists are opposed to the powers under which security forces have been handed by the Patriot Act (Hol 99).

Many activists were opposed to the fact that the Patriot Act gave powers to security forces to abuse the rights of American citizens. The Patriot Act was enacted with the view of fighting terrorism with a focus on domestic security within the borders of the United States.

Civil liberty activists are opposed to some provisions of the Patriot Act which infringe on the fourth and fifth amendments. For instance, the National Security Letter allows the FBI to subpoena any individual or organization to provide information.

This provision is unconstitutional and has caused civil liberty groups to oppose the actions of the United States government. The Obama administration recently extended some of the Patriot Act’s provisions that were to expire.

This action led to widespread condemnation by the civil liberty organizations since most of these activists see that the government expenditure on the implementing the Patriot Act led to genesis of the financial crisis (Brasch 51). The enactment of the Patriot Act is viewed by many legal professions as being unconstitutional. Moreover, the US Supreme Court has voiced its opposition to the Act.

Law on the Patriot Act

The Patriot Act enactment has elicited strong criticisms and support from different quarters. Some civil liberty groups and activists have challenged the legality of the Patriot Act in the courts of law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has opposed the implementation of some provisions of the Patriot Act.

The union took a further action to file three suits in the courts against these provisions of the Patriot Act. The court cases are related to one provision in the Patriot Act which is concerned with National Security Letter (NSL).

The ACLU argues that the Patriot Act gives power to the FBI to gag or forbid anyone who receives an NSL from talking about the issue. The first lawsuit was filed by Nicholas Merrill who was against the issuance of an NSL against him and his company (Dean 14).

The second court case was filed by a consortium of libraries known as library connection based in Connecticut whereby a NSL was issued to them. The suit was filed because the NSL issued against the libraries violated the first amendment and the government withdrew the NSL.

In April 2008, a National Security Letter was withdrawn in an out of court settlement between the FBI and a digital library. The court case had been filed by ACLU and the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

These cases are part of the many legal challenges which have been launched against the implementation of some provisions of the Patriot Act. The ACLU has also questioned the use of the NSL on several occasions by the FBI or Department of Defense (Smith 36).

The ACLU had information that NSLs were issued secretly by the FBI to several individuals or organizations with the intent of gaining private information from them without the permission of the courts. The National Security Letters were first revealed by the New York Times in 2007, and most of the recipients of the letters were startled since the letters had no legal bearing.

Media View on Patriot Act

Opinions on the Patriot Act have come from several sources including the media who have either supported or criticized the Act. During the enactment of the Patriot Act, many media outlets supported the act and their view was that the act would end up beefing security and ending terrorism.

This is in contrast to the recent media opinions which are not in support of the Patriot Act. The recent past has seen the media go up against the Patriot act while laying blame of the current financial meltdown in the United States on the act.

However, conservative media sources have been in support for the Patriot Act with most of their sources supporting the act (Hol 118). Conservative media sources are of the view that the act has been essential in the preservation of American security.

Moreover, they have been in support of the provisions which have extended the provisions of the Patriot Act that were to expire this year. Conversely, liberal media sources have been against the implementation of the Patriot act arguing that the act has been detrimental to the well being of United States citizens.

Liberal media have been against the extension of the Patriot Act because some provisions of the act are deemed as unconstitutional. These liberal media sources argue that the implementation of the Patriot Act is illegal in the sense that the provisions of the act are unconstitutional.

Liberal media sources are of the view that the US government should focus on the financial crisis in the United States rather than financing the implementation of the Patriot Act. In some instances, liberal media sources have been against the Patriot Act arguing that the act was meant to protect Americans; thus the act should not infringe the constitution (ACLU 2011).

Public and Personal Opinion

The United States public is split on the issue of the Patriot Act; the support for the act has waned recently. The American public in the light of the financial crisis was not in support of the Patriot Act. Some of the provisions of the Patriot Act are unconstitutional, and this has elicited negative feedback from the public.

For instance, the act’s provisions give power to the FBI to conduct arbitrary searches has been criticised. Some American citizens have even gone ahead and taken legal action against some provisions of the Patriot Act. Recent public opinion polls conducted on the issue of the Patriot Act has shown that most Americans are against the act (ACLU 2011).

Many Americans view the act as negating the constitution because it will erode freedom enjoyed by the Americans. Moreover, a majority of Americans are of the view that the implementation of the Patriot Act is costly especially when the country is facing financial crisis (Brasch 49). The abuse of power by the American security forces has made the American public oppose implementation of the Patriot Act.

I am personally opposed to the Patriot Act implementation and the extension of some of its provisions. The Patriot Act contains provisions which abuse the US constitution. For instance, I am opposed to the enactment of the National Security Letter which gives powers to the FBI to subpoena any individual without the consent of the courts.

This provision overrides the role of the courts since most of the time this provision is abused by state security agents. The US Supreme Court has also voiced concern over the Patriot Act terming the implementation of the act as infringing on the constitution.

As a liberal, I am against provisions of the Patriot Act (Smith 35). The act should be amended for a better security law that preserves security while at the same time is in line with the constitution.

Conclusion

Civil liberty movements have been on the forefront in the protection of the rights of the American citizens. The participation of the civil liberty groups and activists cannot be underscored since they play a pivotal role in the development of the society.

In the early 1960’s and 70’s, these movements were able to fight racial segregations and create equal opportunities for all Americans. The Patriot Act is one law that has not escaped the notice of civil liberty groups.

This is because the law had the intention of protecting American citizens but instead it infringed the US constitution. Civil liberty groups such as the ACLU have opposed some provisions of the Patriot Act and called for the amendment of these provisions.

Works Cited

ACLU. National Security Letters. American Civil Liberties Union, 10 Jan. 2011. Web.<>

Brasch, Walter. America’s unpatriotic acts: the federal government’s violation of constitutional and civil rights. Chicago, IL: Peter Lang, 2005. Print.

Dean, Andrew. “How Patriotic is the Patriot Act”. New York Times 20 July 2007 late ed.: A1. Print.

Hol, Antoine and Vervaele, John. Security and civil liberties: the case of terrorism. Boston, MA: Intersentia nv, 2005. Print.

Smith, K. (2009). Fighting Terrorism: The Patriot’s Act. The American Security Monthly, 1(1), p. 34-36.

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IvyPanda. "Civil liberty movements." September 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/civil-liberty-movements/.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Civil liberty movements." September 19, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/civil-liberty-movements/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Civil liberty movements'. 19 September.

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