The American Constitution

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Ever after the U.S. There have been occasions where the fundamental liberties of individuals have contrasted with the government's determination to protect civilians from international or domestic enemies. The Constitution was ratified. Often, in the interests of national security, the government treads on the basic rights of civilians. Four incidents existed in the 20th century where civilians' rights in the interests of national security were usurped. For instance, as President Wilson put it, the Espionage and Sedition Acts were formulated in 1917 and 1918, respectively, because there were "millions of men and women of German birth and native sympathy living among us" and that "if disloyalty should occur, it will be dealt with a firm hand of repression” (Mintz & McNeil). The most egregious violation of citizens’ rights occurred directly after U.S. entry into World War II. President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 requiring Americans of Japanese descent to be placed in internment camps in fear that they would pose security threat. This order would eventually be overturned by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional in the case of Korematsu v. United States in 1944 (Roark, et al.) and the internees would be released. There would be other instances as well, such as McCarthyism in the 1950’s and the release of the Pentagon Papers in the early 1970’s where citizens’ rights would be challenged versus national security. Even though national security is a legitimate federal government concern, constitutionally-guaranteed citizens’ rights are equally important and should only be usurped in extreme circumstances, because the basis of our republic rests upon the protections given to its citizens and any violation of these rights threatens the stability of the republic.

Works Cited

Mintz, S., & McNeil, S. “Espionage and Sedition Acts.” Digital History.

Roark, James L., et al. The American Promise: A Concise History, Fifth Edition. Bedford St. Martens, 2014.

October 25, 2022


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