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Legislating Against Liberties: Congress And The Constitution In The Aftermath Of War, Harry Blain Jun 2022

Legislating Against Liberties: Congress And The Constitution In The Aftermath Of War, Harry Blain

Dissertations, Theses, and Capstone Projects

How far can a democracy go to protect itself without jeopardizing the liberties upon which democracy depends? This dissertation examines why wartime restrictions on civil liberties outlive their original justifications. Through a comparative historical analysis of five major American wars, it illustrates the decisive role of the U.S. Congress in preserving these restrictions during peacetime. This argument challenges the prevailing consensus in the literature, which identifies wartime executive power as the main threat to postwar freedoms. It also reveals broader narratives of American constitutional development, including the rise and fall of intrusive congressional investigations, the decline of sedition legislation since …