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President/Executive Department

Civil liberties

University of Missouri School of Law

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Questioning Deference, Christina E. Wells Oct 2004

Questioning Deference, Christina E. Wells

Faculty Publications

This article examines the accepted axiom that courts should defer to the government's actions during national security crises even when such actions potentially violate citizens' constitutional rights. The paper questions two assumptions underlying that axiom - first, that executive officials are best equipped to determine when security needs justify liberty infringements and, second, that judges are particularly unqualified to meddle in security issues, even when civil liberties are involved. Relying on psychological theories regarding the role that fear plays in skewing risk assessment and historical analyses of past crises, the paper argues that times of crisis lend themselves to unnecessary …