Civil Liberties and Constitutional Rights

A Journalistic Query for Lawfare Readers

By Benjamin Wittes
Tuesday, November 29, 2016, 3:09 PM

My friend and Brookings colleague Jonathan Rauch is working on a journalistic project, for which he is taking an interesting reporting approach: He's soliciting input from Lawfare readers. I've posted his query below and hope people have time to respond. Jonathan is a contributing editor of the Atlantic who writes thoughtful, high-impact articles; and the topic he's writing about—how to identify and defend liberal-democratic red-lines should the Trump Administration cross any—is certainly important.

Here's his query:

I'm seeking input from members of the Lawfare community for an Atlantic article on how to identify and protect key liberal-democratic norms in the age of Trump.

Here's the question: How would we know if the administration goes beyond unwise or controversial policy decisions and takes actions that compromise important liberal-democratic laws, institutions, or norms—actions that both parties should draw lines against?

Examples might include defying a court order, suspending habeas corpus, politicizing law enforcement or intelligence, suing journalists or narrowing First Amendment protections, using regulatory powers to harass opponents, tolerating menacing activities by supporters or outside groups...etc.

The list could get long, and we're not about to see tanks in the streets, so I need expert help identifying what's most important to watch out for in real-world America in 2017. What do you think belongs on, say, a top-five list of canaries in the coal mine? What does not belong?

Replies are off-the-record. I may quote from them, but no one will be identified or identifiable unless I get specific permission.

And ... thanks!