Date of Degree

6-2022

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Program

Political Science

Advisor

Susan Woodward

Committee Members

Zachary Shirkey

Andrew Polsky

Subject Categories

American Politics | Comparative Politics | Constitutional Law | International Relations | Law and Politics | Law and Society | Legal History | National Security Law | President/Executive Department

Keywords

war, civil liberties, congress, presidency, American political development

Abstract

How far can a democracy go to protect itself without jeopardizing the liberties upon which democracy depends? This dissertation examines why wartime restrictions on civil liberties outlive their original justifications. Through a comparative historical analysis of five major American wars, it illustrates the decisive role of the U.S. Congress in preserving these restrictions during peacetime. This argument challenges the prevailing consensus in the literature, which identifies wartime executive power as the main threat to postwar freedoms. It also reveals broader narratives of American constitutional development, including the rise and fall of intrusive congressional investigations, the decline of sedition legislation since the Second World War, and the growth of federal subsidies for aggressive local policing since the Vietnam War.

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