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Constitution Day Speaker at DU Tackles Patriot Act, Post-9/11 Threats to Civil Liberties

The terrorist acts of Sept. 11, 2001, have forever changed the landscape of U.S. politics, casting American civil liberties in a new light. To explore this important topic, the political science department will host Roger K. Newman for a Constitution Day lecture on Monday, Sept. 19.

The lecture, which will be held at 4 p.m. in the Power Center Ballroom, is free and will be followed by a reception.

Newman, a professor of journalism at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and editor in chief of The Constitution and Its Amendments, will discuss, among other things, the Patriot Act, which is federal legislation enacted after 9/11 in an attempt to improve information-sharing among government agencies.

The heavily debated question surrounding the Patriot Act is whether certain components of the act, in an effort to keep Americans safe, might threaten civil liberties.

“Newman is worried about searches without warrant, wire tapping without warrant, information sharing between the FBI and the CIA,” said Dr. Leslie Rubin, assistant professor of political science and a constitutional law expert.

“The point of the Patriot Act was to get all federal government agencies on the same page so that if something else like 9/11 were to happen, our government would know about it beforehand,” Rubin continued. “But civil rights lawyers are concerned that the laws can be interpreted too liberally to the point where they might be a threat to our civil liberties. Is the government getting carried away with its need for surveillance?”

The lecture is being held in celebration of Constitution Day, which commemorates the formation and signing of the U.S. Constitution on Sept. 17, 1787.

“As citizens, we need to understand the Constitution,” Rubin said. “American politics runs according to the Constitution, not according to those in office.”

The event is sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Pi Sigma Alpha and the McAnulty College NEH Endowment Fund. For more information, call 412.396.6485.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.