Why Are Civil Liberties Important?

Mike Mozart/CC-BY 2.0

Civil liberties are important because they guard the rights and freedom of citizens of the United States. Franklin D. Roosevelt states in papers held at George Washington University that people must preserve civil liberties in order to preserve democracy.

Civil liberties protect personal freedoms. For instance, the freedom of speech allows citizens to express themselves without fear of interference. Freedom of the press falls in line with this, as well as freedom of religion and freedom of assembly.

Other liberties include those that deal with crime and due process of the law. These liberties are important because they protect innocent people during prosecution. These rights include people being innocent until they are proven guilty, the right for legal counsel and the right to be tried by a jury.

President Roosevelt warned against civil liberties being squashed in the name of something bigger. For instance, other countries during war time undermine the freedom of speech and the press under the guise of national security. One such incident occurred in 1971 during the Vietnam war. The New York Times went to court against the government because the Times published information that cast a negative light on the war and the government wanted to sue the paper by saying that it interfered with national security. Eventually, the New York Times ended up winning.