Championing The Principles of Liberty

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The Quirin Decision of 1942 Revisited

In Ex Parte Quirin (1942) the U.S. Supreme Court justified the trial by military commission of eight German soldiers “captured” on American soil. Edward S. Corwin called the case “a ceremonious detour to a predetermined goal” (Total War and the Constitution, 1947). Louis Fisher notes the “common perception … that Quirin was a contrived decision without anchoring itself in any legal precedent” (“Military Commissions,” Boston University International Law Review). Dissenting in Hamdi (2004), Justice Antonin Scalia wrote that Quirin was not the Court’s “finest hour.” Quirin was little cited...

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The New Deal, Part 2: Foreign Policy

As noted in part 1, the New Deal was in serious political trouble by 1937. (See Frederic Sanborn, “Collapse of the New Deal,” in W.A. Williams, ed., Shaping of American Diplomacy, II.) Agriculture Secretary Henry Wallace’s book New Frontiers (1934) was an early sign of the administration’s turn toward foreign markets as the most promising escape from the Depression. By 1937-38, the recession-within-the-Depression was pushing many New Dealers toward Open Door Empire. But fascist autarchy, local corporatism, Soviet communism, and new trade restrictions walling off European colonial empires...

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The New Deal, Part 1: Domestic Policy

Today, few Americans are left from the Greatest Generation (a phrase which my father, born in 1912, would have seen as obvious propaganda). There are more, perhaps, who experienced the New Deal directly as very small children. Most of us know it only from history, family lore, popular culture, film, and (yes) partisan political sources. And yet the farther it recedes in time, the more the feeling takes hold that the New Deal was an important watershed in American life. That is certainly true and here is a clue: early in my lifetime you could still tell an overwrought person, “Don’t make a...

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Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty

Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty

Americans today have “freedom” to be fleeced, groped, injected, harassed, surveilled, vilified, disarmed, beaten, detained, and maybe shot by federal agents. From hapless homeowners hit by SWAT raids to pandemic lockdowns pointlessly paralyzing lives, government...

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