Scholar Cautions Against Bending the Constitution to Fight Terrorism
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EXTRAORDINARY TIMES call for extraordinary measures? When it comes
to circumventing the constitution in a time of war, Professor Kathleen
Sullivan, head of the Stanford Center for Constitutional Law, argues that
extraordinary times call for extraordinary restraint.
“The purpose of a written constitution is to set forth antecedent
rules that prevent us from doing things we regret when we get scared or
when we get popular animus or popular fear going,” Sullivan said
in the Roberts Lecture last February. She went on to compare our constitution
to the ropes that bound Odysseus to his ship’s mast when he was
tempted by the Sirens’ calls.
According to Sullivan, who was a Penn Law visiting professor and National
Constitution Center scholar in the fall of 2004-2005, this ideal contrasts
with the numerous cases in history where the Constitution was overridden
by a wartime president: Lincoln’s suspension of the writ of habeas
corpus, Truman’s seizure of the steel mills in the Korean War, and
FDR’s internment of Japanese citizens in World War II.