Skip to main content

A WaPo OpEd explores the connection between privacy, civil liberties, and the civil rights movement. The conclusion is that without privacy, the right to peaceably assemble is denied. Without that right, the civil rights movement would have been impossible.

In a Washington Post OpEd,Prof. Danielle Allen of the Institute of Advanced Study,  puts flesh on the abstract reflections contained in two Harvard Law review articles I diaried recently. She writes:

The Supreme Court first formally identified a right to associate in NAACP v. Alabama , a 1958 case in which the state had tried to force out the NAACP with a string of measures, including a requirement that the unincorporated local associations disclose their membership lists. The court confirmed the right of associations to protect such lists and the right of individuals to participate anonymously in such associations.
In 1960 in Bates v. Little Rock , the court cited its ruling in NAACP v. Alabama, saying, “It is now beyond dispute that freedom of association for the purpose of advancing ideas and airing grievances is protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by the States. . . . Freedoms such as these are protected not only against heavy-handed frontal attack, but also from being stifled by more subtle governmental interference.
The NSA’s data collection program is anything but narrowly tailored to a compelling state interest. Instead, it treats every American as potentially a party of interest to unlawful activity. How can that not affect how I think about my associations from this day forward?”
Naturally, for organizations dedicated to violence like Al Qaida or the KKK, the public right to safety trumps the right to privacy. But the US government has already spied on peaceful groups such as Pledge of Resistance-Baltimore, a Quaker peace group. Therefore, there is reason to believe that the NSA has denied the right to privacy that is foundational to the right to peaceably assemble. The historical civil rights movement that we celebrate in the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington could not have survived if their rights had been so violated.

At least in the past, "civil liberties" was the term used by predominantly white organizations that didn't want to get involved in messy issues like the "civil rights" that African Americans fought for. But there are no civil rights without civil liberties, and no civil liberties without civil rights.  

And with the NSA as it has operated wartime conditions, there seem to be neither.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site