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Civil Liberties History


Today in Civil Liberties History is a web site calendar with civil liberties events for each day. It is similar to other “Today in History” calendars you are familiar with.

Today in Civil Liberties History covers the full range of civil liberties issues: free speech, reproductive rights, national security, racial justice, lesbian and gay rights, and more. Access it here: Today in Civil Liberties History has learning resources for each event: recommended books and articles, Youtube videos, rights groups web sites, and more. There are over 2000 events (and it is still growing).

Watch a short video describing Today in Civil Liberties History:  




Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to ObamaPresidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians  (Cambridge University Press, 2012).

Presidents and Civil Liberties is a history of how American presidents have handled civil liberties issues. The book begins with Woodrow Wilson’s suppression of dissent during World War I and ends with George W. Bush’s abuses in the war on terrorism, with some concluding observations about Barack Obama. For each president, the book covers the full range of civil liberties issues: freedom of speech and press; religious liberty; due process of law; equal protection, including racial justice, women’s rights, lesbian and gay rights; privacy, including abortion and government data banks and surveillance; and all the issues related to national security. It will be the only comparative study of all 17 presidents from Wilson through Obama.


WALKER WINS LANGUM PRIZE FOR BEST BOOK IN AMERICAN LEGAL HISTORY, 2012. Sam Walker’s Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama has been awarded the 2012 Langum Prize for the Best Book in American Legal History. The Langum Prize is awarded by the Langum Charitable Trust in Birmingham, Alabama in honor of David J. Langum, Sr. Read the Legal History BlogLangumLegalHBlog





In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU, 2nd ed.In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990; second edition 1999) Buy on | Publisher’s Website more books by Samuel Walker


Samuel Walker, The Rights Revolution: Rights and Community in Modern America (Oxford, 1998).


Samuel Walker, The American Civil Liberties Union: An Annotated Bibliography (Garland Publishing, 1992).


HATE SPEECH BACK IN THE NEWS ! The controversy over hate speech is back in the news with the March 2, 2011 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the right of Westboro Baptist Church to conduct offensive anti-homosexual demonstrations at the funerals of U.S. military personnel (Snyder v. Phelps, et al). The United States is unique in the world on the extent to which the First Amendment protects offensive speech. Virtually every other country permits legal restriction on offensive speech, particularly with regard to racial, ethnic, and religious groups.

For background on the history of how American law and policy developed, read Samuel Walker, Hate Speech: The History of an American Controversy (1994). [Go to Walker’s Amazon page on this web site.]  



This report is an annotated Guide to books (and movies) on civil liberties. It is for the general audience, and particularly people who are looking for the one best book on a particular topic. The subjects include freedom of speech, religious liberty, censorship of “dirty” books and movies, racial justice, FBI spying, and more. It is a few years old at this point, and not quite up to date on Bush and the war on terrorism, but a revised version will be along soon.  View of copy of Are There Any Good Books on Civil Liberties: goodbooks


 To inquire about a speaking engagement contact Sam Walker at 402-554-3590, or by email: