Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians is ambitious in scope, covering the civil liberties records of all modern presidents. We sat down with the author, a widely quoted expert on issues of civil liberties, policing and criminal justice policy, for a fascinating discussion.
This week we’re reading Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama by Samuel Walker.
Many mistakenly believe that the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 were the ancestors of the modern Presidential debate. They were not.
In the decade before the Civil War the press usually was so partisan that individual papers often published stories planted by favored candidates against their opposition. In comparison to newspapers then, mainstream media today are generally models of impartiality. Despite the intense partisanship, the antebellum press granted politicians a degree of privacy that those today can only envy.
The Burr treason trial offers a unique view of the law-making process—an opportunity enhanced by the extensive stenographic trial records, unparalleled newspaper coverage, and abundant personal recollections. If the collision of the English legal inheritance and the needs of the new republic constituted the matrix of American lawmaking, then the Burr trial is an ideal place to study the mix.