National Security & Civil Liberties

L32 3171 – National Security, Civil Liberties & the Law

Washington University - Fall 2005
Tues/Thurs. 10:00 – 11:30 a.m.
Crow 204

Instructor: Denise Lieberman TA: Christina Boyd
Office: Eliot 317 Office: Eliot 324
Hours: M/W: 10-12; Tues: 11:30-1 Hours: Thurs. 1-2:30 p.m.
Email: Email:
Phone: 314-935-9010

Course Website at:


Course Description

The American legal system attaches special significance to national security. Since Sept. 11, 2001, the courts’ role in national security has become increasingly important as many measures enacted by the government since 9/11 invoke constitutional and civil liberties questions. In many arenas, it will be up to the courts to determine the proper balance between national security and civil liberties. Where should the balance be drawn? The tension between liberty and security is a timeless one, and challenging even in times of peace. Times of crisis and threats to security heighten this tension. This course will consider the civil liberties implications of post 9/11 developments in areas of free speech, privacy and equal protection, looking at issues like the USA Patriot Act, ethnic and racial profiling, data collection, surveillance, detentions, and other measures. We’ll examine core constitutional principles and case law in these areas and review how the courts are interpreting these new measures in light of contemporary debates.

Our class meetings will behighly interactive and therefore preparation for each class meeting is very important. Students will learn how to read and understand court decisions, how to "brief" cases, and how precedent and politics affect the courts’ rulings.

Required Text

1.Cole, David and Dempsey, James X, Terrorism and the Constitution, Sacrificing Civil Liberties for National Security (New Press)

2.Rehnquist, William, All the Laws but One, (Vintage Press)

3.Additional readings that will be accessible on the class website. You are expected to check the course website each week for updated assignments.


1. Class Attendance and participation (20%): You are expected to be prepared to discuss the readings with your fellow classmates in class and on the online discussion group/chat room. We will discuss how court decisions relate to current controversies and engage in debates on constitutional issues. Discussion and debate on issues raised in the readings is critical to your understanding of the issues in this class. Attendance and participation at each class meeting is expected. Students are expected to participate in class or post to the online discussion group once per week.

2. Case Brief (10%): Each student is required to prepare and turn in a case brief on a court decision assigned in the readings. This will involve presenting the procedural and substantive history of the case, the facts, the issue before the court, court's holding and reasoning, as well as that of the dissenters, and your opinion on whether the case was properly decided given the precedent before the court. In addition, you should include two questions raised by the case that could be used as a springboard for a discussion on a current debate or the broader constitutional issue raised by your case.

3. Two short papers (20% each):You will be asked to research and prepare two short (3-5 page) papers discussing a current controversy related to national security and civil liberties.

4. Final Paper (30%): In this longer paper (approximately 10 pages), you will analyze a current debate related to national security and civil liberties. You will be provided with thorough instructions for this paper.


Grades will be based on an average of the above as follows:

100 A+

94-99 A

89-93 A-

86-88 B+

83-85 B

79-82 B-

76-78 C+

73-75 C

69-72 C-

66-68 D+

63-65 D

59-62 D-

0-58 F

Policy regarding academic dishonesty: This course will follow Washington University's policies concerning academic dishonesty. Academic dishonesty will result in failure for the assignment in question and/or referral to the college's Academic Integrity Office, which has discretion to impose a stricter penalty. While academic dishonesty includes cheating on exams and quizzes, it also includes plagiarism in written assignments. Plagiarism is not only passing off someone else's work as your own, but also giving your work to someone else to pass off as their own. It also includes submitting work from another course. While I strongly encourage you to discuss your work with each other in and out of class, and while you may research issues together, your writing should be your own. The papers you submit must be your work alone, and must include citations to all references in your work. Please include the url for internet articles.

Accommodation of disabilities: Washington University is committed to providing accommodations and/or services to students with documented disabilities. Students who are seeking support for a disability or a suspected disability should contact the Disability Resource Center (DRC) at 5-4062 in Gregg Hall. ( The DRC is responsible for approving and arranging all accommodations for University students.


Aug. 31: Classes Start
Sept. 5: Labor Day – No Class
Sept. 14: Last day to add
Sept. 15: Last day to drop
Sept. 15: Case brief due
Oct. 11: Paper 1 Due
Oct. 21: Fall Break
Nov. 8: Paper 2 Due
Nov. 18: Final drop deadline; last day for grade option change
Nov. 23: Thanksgiving – No Class
Dec. 1: Final Paper Due
Dec. 8: Last day of class


Remember to review the course website each week for updated assignments and links to articles

I. Introduction and Overview

  • Bill of Rights
  • Structure of Courts
  • How to Brief a case

II. Constitutional Framework

  • War and Treaty Powers
  • Separation of powers
  • The President's powers
  • Congress' powers
  • Role of judiciary

III. History

  • President Lincoln’s Emergency Civil War Measures
  • Early 20th Century and WWI
  • WWII, Cold War and emergency of modern FBI

IV. What is terrorism? Who is a terrorist?

V. Security at Home: Pre- and Post- 9/11 Views

  • Oklahoma City and World Trade Center bombings

VI. USA Patriot Act

Civil Liberties Implications of Anti-Terrorism Policies

VII. 1st Amendment: Free Speech and Assembly

  • silencing political dissent
  • protest zones
  • profiling based on expressive activity

VIII. Surveillance, Privacy & the 4th Amendment

  • Government searches, seizures, wiretaps

IX. Profiling and Equal Protection of the laws

  • Profiling based on race, ethnicity, religion
  • Impact on non-citizens
  • Impact on Muslims

X. Preventative Detentions/Military Tribunals/Guantanamo

  • Ex parte Milligan
  • Hamdi v. Rumsfeld
  • Rumsfeld v. Padilla
  • Rasul v. Bush

XI. Public information

  • Freedom of Information Act

XII. Technology and Emerging Issues for Security & Civil Liberties

  • Real ID
  • National ID Cards
  • Biometrics
  • DNA
  • TIA
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