Not a Suicide Pact: The Constitution in a Time of National Emergency

Front Cover
Oxford University Press, USA, Sep 1, 2006 - Political Science - 171 pages
1 Review
Eavesdropping on the phone calls of U.S. citizens; demands by the FBI for records of library borrowings; establishment of military tribunals to try suspected terrorists, including U.S. citizens--many of the measures taken by the Bush administration since 9/11 have sparked heated protests. In Not a Suicide Pact, Judge Richard A. Posner offers a cogent and elegant response to these protests, arguing that personal liberty must be balanced with public safety in the face of grave national danger.
Critical of civil libertarians who balk at any curtailment of their rights, even in the face of an unprecedented terrorist threat in an era of proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Posner takes a fresh look at the most important constitutional issues that have arisen since 9/11. These issues include the constitutional rights of terrorist suspects (whether American citizens or not) to habeas corpus and due process, and their rights against brutal interrogation (including torture) and searches based on less than probable cause. Posner argues that terrorist activity is sui generis--it is neither "war" nor "crime"--and it demands a tailored response, one that gives terror suspects fewer constitutional rights than persons suspected of ordinary criminal activity. Constitutional law must remain fluid, protean, and responsive to the pressure of contemporary events. Posner stresses the limits of law in regulating national security measures and underscores the paradoxical need to recognize a category of government conduct that is at once illegal and morally obligatory.
One of America's top legal thinkers, Posner does not pull punches. He offers readers a short, sharp book with a strong point of view that is certain to generate much debate.
This is inaugural volume in Oxford's new fourteen-book Inalienable Rights Series. Each book will be a short, analytically sharp exploration of a particular right--to bear arms, to religious freedom, to free speech--clarifying the issues swirling around these rights and challenging us to rethink our most cherished freedoms.

From inside the book

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - DanelMaddison - LibraryThing

Insightful analysis of the crucial problem of defeating Islamic terrorism should be analyzed under our Constitutional precedents and how to best strike the blance between security and liberty. Posner is brilliant as always. Read full review

Not a suicide pact: the constitution in a time of national emergency

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Posner (Overcoming Law ), a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, asks whether new definitions of rights are required in this post-9/11 era of heightened security, what the ... Read full review



6 other sections not shown

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

About the author (2006)

Richard A. Posner is Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in Chicago, and lectures at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of many books and articles, including Overcoming Law and An Affair of State, both of which were picked by The New York Times Book Review as among the best books of their year.

Bibliographic information