One of the profound ironies of September 11 is that an attack widely perceived to be an assault on what America stands for—democracy and the rule of law—exposed Americans’ deeply rooted ambivalence towards their legal system. Many within our democratic institutions instinctively reached for ways to avoid entanglement with the legal system in responding to the crisis: attempting to house enemy combatants beyond the reach of American courts, asserting that even American citizens held as enemy combatants in the United States are not entitled to access to judicial review and legal advice to challenge detentions, minimizing the judicial supervision of surveillance, search and preventive detention by relaxing warrant requirements. These are responses hostile to the legal system that have been highly visible in the years following the attacks.



Date of this Version

May 2005

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Economics Commons