1985 February 25

Ed Meese Becomes Attorney General; Leads Assault on Civil Liberties


Edwin Meese became Attorney General during President Ronald Reagan’s second term on this day,  and in that position led an aggressive campaign against civil liberties. He was well known for his opposition to the “Miranda Warning,” which required police to advise a criminal suspect of his or her right to remain silent (decided June 13, 1966).

Meese also sponsored a report from the Attorney General’s Commission on Pornography (known as the Meese Report), released on July 8, 1986, which threatened to revise censorship of sexually oriented material.

And on July 9, 1985, Meese launched a campaign to promote the concept of Original Intent, a theory of constitutional law that was hostile to the many pro-civil liberties decisions of the Supreme Court.

Read: Meese’s Memoirs: Edwin Meese, With Reagan: The Inside Story (1992)

Read Meese’s views on major issues: Edwin Meese, Major Policy Statements of the Attorney General, 1985–1988 (1989)

Watch a documentary on civil liberties and the Reagan administration: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IDIGkT3jRj0

On Reagan and Meese’s civil liberties record: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

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