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.