University of Pittsburgh

Obama and Civil Liberties: A Historical Perspective

Samuel Walker, Emeritus Professor of Criminal Justice, University of Nebraska Omaha
February 12, 2013 - 5:00pm6:30pm
University of Pittsburgh School of Law
3900 Forbes Avenue Room 107
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Cosponsored by the ACLU of Pennsylvania, this event is free and open to the public. 1.5 hours of substantive credit are approved.

How has President Barack Obama done so far in protecting civil liberties? What can we expect in his second term? A historical perspective, drawn from Professor Samuel Walker’s book Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians, sheds useful light on these questions. The record of the past century indicates that only a few presidents have strongly defended civil liberties. In fact, both Democratic and Republican presidents have been responsible for some of the worst violations of American liberties (think of FDR and the Japanese Americans and Nixon and Watergate). To understand the dynamics of this history of presidential failure we need to move beyond personalities (again, think of FDR, Nixon, and Obama) and look at the combined effect of the very nature of civil liberties (particularly national security), the institutional role of the presidency in the United States, and the dynamics of partisan politics at any given moment. From this perspective, Obama’s performance to date fits comfortably in the mainstream of past presidential conduct with regard to civil liberties.

A reception will immediately follow in the Alcoa Room.


CLE Information

Cost for CLE Credit: $25 per person

This program has been approved by the Pennsylvania Continuing Legal Education Board for one and one half (1.5) hours of substantive credit. Cost for processing CLE credit is $25 per person, payable in advance or upon entering the program.

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