This book is a history of the civil liberties records of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It examines the full range of civil liberties issues: First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press and assembly; due process; equal protection, including racial justice, women's rights, and lesbian and gay rights; privacy rights, including reproductive freedom; and national security issues. The book argues that presidents have t protected or advanced civil liberties, and that several have perpetrated some of the worst violations. Some Democratic presidents (Wilson and Roosevelt), moreover, have violated civil liberties as badly as some Republican presidents (Nixon and Bush). This is the first book to examine the full civil liberties records of each president (thus, placing a president's record on civil rights with his record on national security issues), and also to compare the performance on particular issues of all the presidents covered.
Samuel Walker is Professor Emeritus of Criminal Justice at the University of Nebraska, Omaha. He is author of thirteen books on civil liberties, criminal justice and policing. They include In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990), Hate Speech (1994) and Sense and Nonsense about Crime, 7th edition (2012). He is a frequent commentator on criminal justice and police issues in the national news media and has appeared on CNN, NBC, NPR, PBS Frontline and The History Channel. He has served as a consultant to the US Justice Department and local community groups on police problems.