1981 March 8

Groups Organize to Combat Reagan Administration Attacks on Civil Liberties


In the wake of Ronald Reagan’s inauguration as president, and the anti-civil libertarian agenda of his administration regarding abortion, school prayer, and the rights of criminal suspects, a coalition of liberal and civil libertarian groups met in Washington, D.C. on this day to plan a strategy for combating the administration’s agenda.

The co9nservative crusade in the Reagan years was successful on a number of economic and social issues, but it failed on several important issues. Proposed constitutional amendments to ban abortion and permit prayers in public schools never passed Congress. Reagan was also unable to deliver on his promise to not extend the 1965 Voting Rights Act (see June 30, 1982). But in general, however, Reagan cut back on civil rights enforcement, disregarded the new restraints on the CIA, and ushered in a new era of conservatism in American politics.

Read about the Reagan threat to civil liberties: Eve Pell, Big Chill: How the Reagan Administration, Corporate America, and Religious Conservatives Are Subverting Free Speech and the Public’s Right to Know (1984)

Watch a documentary on Reagan and civil liberties, Retreat from Equality (be patient, it takes a minute or two to get started):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH_ivxQigsE

Learn more about President Reagan and civil liberties: Samuel Walker, Presidents and Civil Liberties From Wilson to Obama (2012)

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