chapter  12
21 Pages

Our Bill of Rights Is Under Subtle and Pervasive Attack

One of the least attractive ironies in American history persisted throughout the 1940s and ’50s: a disparity between rhetorical devotion to vaunted liberties and pervasive indifference to the very document that legitimized those liberties. World War II turned out to be a mixed blessing for civil liberties in American constitutionalism. The range of testimony given by leaders of different groups provides some indication of the diversity of American opinion concerning constitutionalism in general and civil liberties in particular. An obsession with internal subversion during the postwar decade caused many Americans to become rather cavalier about their regard for the Bill of Rights. In 1940 the Bill of Rights Committee of the American Bar Association began to publish a quarterly journal, asserting that the committee had found a strong desire on the part of “informed laymen to learn more concerning the history and nature of our fundamental rights.”.