Dbq: Does the Government Have the Constitutional Power to Suspend the Constitution During a Time of Crisis?

Topics: United States Constitution, Supreme Court of the United States, President of the United States Pages: 4 (1432 words) Published: September 27, 2006
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety," says Benjamin Franklin in Historical Review of 1759. Others tend to say just the opposite of what Ben Franklin quoted. With that being said, a key question comes up for discussion: Does the government have the Constitutional power to suspend the Constitution during a time of crisis? Certain documents were brought up for discussion that deal with certain articles from the Constitution and some acts/laws that the Congress passed to substantiate whether the government has certain powers. By using the U.S. Constitution, the Espionage Act, the Sedition Act, an executive order from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and two federal Supreme Court cases, it will be proven that the government DOES have certain powers during a time of crisis.

In the past, the U.S. Congress has passed acts in a time of crisis for the safety of our nation. With this information being acknowledged many ask, "If the government had previous powers to do so?" One act that was passed was the Sedition Act of 1798. This law was passed due to a threat of war with the French. This act basically stated that no person should conspire or scheme any plans against the government. This includes conspiracy by mouth, actions, or any other way possible. Even though the Bill of Rights state that the people have the right to freely express themselves through speech, the government revised or revoked that amendment during that particular time. This act became null and void on March 3, 1801 which was stated in Section 4 of the Sedition Act. Another act that was passed through Congress was the Espionage Act of 1918 during World War I. This act says that no one should slander the name of the U.S. government nor the naval forces and the military. It also states that no one should speak, print, or publish anything disloyal or scurrilous concerning the U.S. as a whole during the time of war. These rules...
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