Special Section on Civil Liberties

In this symposium:

Sustaining Democratic Life: An Interview with the ACLU's Anthony Romero

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This is a lightly edited transcript of an interview conducted by Mark Dow and Kent Worcester with Anthony Romero in April 2004 in his lower Manhattan office.


New Politics: Yesterday during the September 11 Commission hearings, when he was defending some of the Patriot Act measures that have been criticized, Ashcroft said that a lot of what the Patriot Act did was simply to extend measures that were already in existence.

Anthony Romero: Patently false.

Roundups, Detention, and Other Phantoms of Lost Liberty


In an Alabama district court a few years ago, the Department of Justice made an argument familiar to those who have read immigration cases: it asked the court to keep its hands off. The department argued for what I call "double deference." First, the court should defer to the executive and legislative branches as a matter of course in immigration matters; and second, the court should defer to the jail where the plaintiff was being incarcerated since prison administrators need wide latitude in operating their lock-ups.

U.S. Libraries and the "War on Terrorism"


      In the days and weeks following the September 11, 2001 Al-Qaeda terrorist attacks in the northeastern United States, there was a sudden proliferation of U.S. flags and other patriotic imagery in public libraries across the nation. U.S. public libraries have traditionally displayed U.S. flags inside or atop their buildings, even though they are financed by local and state tax money and receive little if any federal funding. But the new patriotic décor went well beyond any simple statement of solidarity with the nation in a time of crisis.

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