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David Adler
MRIC 2011/12

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David Adler

Turning of the Wheel: A Humanities Exploration 
"Governing in an Era of Crisis: The Rule of Law and Emergency Powers"

David Adler
Political Science and McClure Center for Public Policy Research
November 15
Whitewater Room, UI Commons

12:30 pm 

Abstract: This subject reflects my research and writing and I hope it will facilitate understanding of an ancient theme:  How to govern in accord with constitutional and legal principles (considered universal and perennial) while addressing emergencies (considered idiosyncratic and immediate) that escape or defy law.  It’s a problem that gripped the ancient Athenians as well as the Romans, and it has been a subject of enduring interest in the Anglo-Saxon world of law.  Indeed, it has absorbed the wit and energy of scholars and statesmen for centuries.  It is a familiar subject to Americans who, since our founding, have faced emergencies that have outrun the law.  It became a prominent issue during the Cold War, as presidents and their supporters urged unbridled executive power to confront the Soviet bogeyman.  Since 9/11, the issue of the scope of presidential power has become the issue of the season, as presidents and their champions have urged the removal of restraints from the exercise of executive power.  We find the arguments in the Torture Memos and in the rationales invoked by the Obama Administration.  So, this is a theme that resounds across the centuries and represents philosophical, political, legal and constitutional questions of great moment for the republic.  Among others, we may raise the question:  Is it possible to suspend liberties in times of crisis in order to preserve the nation without surrendering American Constitutionalism?  Can those liberties, once sacrificed, be restored?  Can we save Democracy through un-Democratic means?

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