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

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

by Samuel Walker


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

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 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 covered.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781107677081
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Publication date: 03/31/2014
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 568
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Samuel Walker is Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is author of thirteen books on civil liberties, criminal justice and policing. They include In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990), Hate Speech (1994) and Sense and Nonsense about Crime, 7th edition (2012). He is a frequent commentator on criminal justice and police issues in the national news media and has appeared on CNN, NBC, NPR, PBS Frontline and The History Channel. He has served as a consultant to the US Justice Department and local community groups on police problems.

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 Obama.

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