These questions addressed a very important issue in today’s society. Many people often question just how far the Government should be able to interfere or intervene during times of Crisis. In the past, as witnessed in the Espionage and Sedition Acts of WWI, the Internment of Japanese Americans in WWII, and the Red Scare. The Government is able to take extreme measures in order to maintain the stability of the nation. It has been the belief of many scholars and politicians over the years that maintaining the Union, just as Abraham Lincoln did during the Civil war, should be atop the domestic agenda.
To begin, the Espionage acts introduced in 1917 by the United States Government. These acts were supposed to limit interference with military operations during the First World War.1 It was also directly aimed at preventing the support of United States enemies during war. Although the Supreme Court ruled that it did not violate free speech, the overall constitutionality of the law went under extreme scrutiny. What is ensued is known as the Pentagon papers. In 1971, Daniel Ellsburg and Anthony Russo were charged with violation of the Espionage act because of their lack of authority to public documents that were considered classified. What ensues was a madhouse, the majority of the court ruled that the government could prosecute the Times. However the court was divided about restraining the press. Many other incidents like this occurred collectively known as the Pentagon Papers.2
Next, came the placement of Japanese Americans in internment camps during WWII. This came as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.4 President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed what is known as executive order 9066 which ordered all Japanese-Americans to leave the West coast. Over 100,000 Japanese Americans were forced from their homes, the majority of whom were actual citizens. There were a total of 10 camps located throughout the Southwest. Beginning in 1945, some prisoners were released and allowed to return to their homes. The last camp closed in 19464. While this is by no means of ethical nature, Roosevelt felt that by implementing these policies, he could release the tension on the West Coast, and reduce the overall violence in America.
Lastly he Red Scare. In America, the most well-known Red Scare took place between 1947-1957.3 A Red Scare is the fear of the rise and spread of communism. The Red Scare was primarily concerned with nation and foreign communist, and limiting their control over American society. Due to many events compiled throughout the 1940’s such as rumors reaching the American people of the Soviet Union’s weapon testing, citizens became uneasy. This again called for the implementation of some drastic policies. Thousands of people were interrogated and questions in association with communism. Even the most powerful people in the nation were under scrutiny, business men, actors and actresses, politicians. Many were falsely convicted for crimes they did not commit. 3
Overall it is hard to choose a stance on this question. If you want to side with yes, then you have to back up the issue of maintaining the Union. After all, as I referenced through Abraham Lincoln’s policies through the first couple years of the Civil War, this is the Government’s main concern. As bad as it may sound, the Government is willing to lose a few, for the greater cause.