Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts by Eric A. Posner

By Eric A. Posner

In Terror within the stability, Posner and Vermeule tackle civil libertarians of either the left and the suitable, arguing that the govt will be given extensive range to regulate coverage and liberties within the occasions of emergency. They emphasize the virtues of unilateral government activities and argue for making broad powers to be had to the administrative as warranted. The judiciary may still neither second-guess defense coverage nor intrude on constitutional grounds. on the way to guard electorate, executive can and may use any criminal device that's warranted below traditional cost-benefit research. the worth received from the rise in protection will exceed the losses from the reduce in liberty. At a time whilst the 'struggle opposed to violent extremism' dominates the us' time table, this significant and arguable paintings will spark dialogue within the school room and highbrow press alike.

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Extra info for Terror in the Balance: Security, Liberty, and the Courts

Example text

Why exactly would government adopt a policy, from among the alternatives, that places unnecessary restrictions on liberty? Perhaps the implicit claim is that government is acting irrationally, out of panicky overreaction (as discussed in chapter 2), or opportunistically, to oppress minorities (as discussed 33 TERROR IN THE BALANCE in chapter 3). If so, then the idea of policymaking below the frontier is parasitic on one of these other claims about emergency politics and lacks independent significance.

Civil libertarians invoke the shadow of Weimar to imply, and occasionally say, that expanding government’s powers during emergencies will produce another Hitler. It will not, in today’s liberal democracies anyway; and if it did, there would be nothing that civil libertarian judges could do about it. Emergencies always pose novel challenges; information about the new post-emergency conditions is at a premium, so the value of historical analogies is low. Weimar was an unconsolidated and institutionally shaky transitional democracy extant some three-quarters of a century ago; its relevance for emergency politics in consolidated modern democracies is not obvious, and we will see evidence that transferring large chunks of power to the executive during emergencies need not, and usually does not, end in dictatorship.

The same point holds if the focus is on judicial review rather than nonjudicial politics. The hard case, for judges, arises when government claims that time is of the essence, that experimentation with alternatives would be foolhardy, and that the interim risks are sufficiently great that restrictions of liberty are warranted. It would be a bold judge who would require the government to exhaust all other alternatives in such a posture, and quite sensibly our judges have not been so bold. In such cases, civil libertarians seem to presume that governmental claims of urgency arise from irrational panic or opportunism, but this just means that the temporal version of less restrictive alternatives is also parasitic on one of the modes of governmental failure addressed in later chapters.

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