The Conversation

Candidate Obama Promised a Different Approach to Civil Liberties Issues

In October 2007, Barack Obama had some pretty tough things to say about George Bush's approach to civil liberties. He also promised things would be different if he were elected:

You know I taught constitutional law for 10 years at the University of Chicago, so um your next President will actually believe in the Constitution which you can’t say about your current President.


In today’s environment in particular I want Supreme Court Justices who are vigilant about civil liberties. Because I think that when people are afraid--and terrorism has created fear--then that’s when the greatest danger to civil liberties happens. It’s easy to be for civil liberties when there are no threats. It’s when there are threats that you start seeing civil liberties chipped away at. So I want a President I want a Supreme Court that is not just giving the President a blank check for whatever power grab he or she is engaging in.

By the way that also means that when I’m President one of the first things I’m going to do is call in my attorney general and say to him or her I want you to review every executive order that’s been issued by George Bush--whether it relates to warrantless wiretaps, or detaining people or reading e-mails, or whatever it is--I want you to go through every single one of them and if they are unconstitutional or they are encroaching on civil liberties unnecessarily we are going to overturn them we are going to change them.

Given Senator Paul's filibuster over the issue of drone strikes on American citizens, this seems relevant once again.


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