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Crisis and the Pursuit of Conservatism: Liberty, Security, and the Bush Justice Department

  • Kevin J. McMahon

Abstract

George W. Bush took over the reins of the presidency as a result of one of the most controversial Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history, Bush v. Gore.1 This unprecedented conclusion to the 2000 presidential election quickly raised questions about the forthcoming relationship between the Bush administration and the law. More specifically, many in the legal community began to ask about the extent to which the new administration would use the resources of the executive branch to solidify the federal courts’ conservative slant. While many will undoubtedly look to President Bush’s judicial appointments to answer this question,2 in this chapter, I consider it from another angle; namely through an exploration of the Bush Justice Department, particularly its activities following the September 11th attacks on America. In doing so, I make two arguments. First, I argue that such an investigation reveals much about the Bush administration’s approach toward the law, and helps clarify the guiding principles underlying its policies. Second, I suggest that by analyzing the Bush presidency in “political time,” we can more fully understand why its Justice Department’s record in court was initially “decidedly mixed” and why some of the harshest critics of its antiterrorism policies have been conservative Republicans.3

Keywords

York Time Civil Liberty Attorney General Bush Administration Republican Party 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Bush v. Gore, 531, U.S. 98 (2000). Many have criticized the Supreme Court for being overly partisan in deciding that case. For two particularly scathing accounts, see Vincent Bugliosi, The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President (New York: Thunder’s Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2001)Google Scholar
  2. and Alan M. Dershowitz, Supreme Injustice: How the High Court Hijacked Election 2000 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001). For a more even-handed and scholarly account,Google Scholar
  3. see Howard Gillman, The Votes That Counted: How the Court Decided the 2000 Presidential Election (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001).Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Kevin J. McMahon, Reconsidering Roosevelt on Race: How the Presidency Paved the Road to Brown (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004).Google Scholar
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    See, for example, Jeffrey Segal and Harold Spaeth, The Supreme Court and the Attitudinal Model Revisited (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 217–222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 21.
    Sheryl Gay Stolberg, “Senate Approves Bill to Prohibit Type of Abortion,” October 22, 2003; Stenberg v. Carhart, 530 U.S. 914 (2000).Google Scholar
  7. 25.
    For specific discussions of alien rights, see Gerry Neuman, Strangers to the Constitution: Immigrants, Borders, and Fundamental Law (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1996);Google Scholar
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  12. David Cole, “Enemy Aliens,” Stanford Law Review 54 (May 2002): 953–1005.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 36.
    See for example, Mary L. Dudziak, Cold War Civil Rights: Race and the Image of American Democracy (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2000);Google Scholar
  14. and Azza Salama Layton, International Politics and Civil Rights Policies in the United States, 1941–1960 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    Jack Goldsmith and Cass Sunstein, “Military Tribunals and Legal Culture: What a Difference Sixty Years Makes,” Constitutional Commentary 19 (Fall 2002), 261–289, 288.Google Scholar
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    Fried, Order and Law: Arguing the Reagan Revolution—A Firsthand Account (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1991), 20.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Jon Kraus, Kevin J. McMahon, and David M. Rankin 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin J. McMahon

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