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39% Say Legal System Worries Too Much About Individual Rights At Expense of National Security

Friday, April 01, 2011

Voters still tend to think America’s legal system puts too much emphasis on the rights of the individual when it comes to national security and public safety.

A plurality (39%) says that in the United States today, the legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights where national security is involved. Twenty-one percent (21%) disagree and say the legal system worries too much about protecting national security, while 29% think the balance is about right. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

This marks little change from last November when controversy was mounting over new airport body scanners.  But it’s a noticeable shift from February 2008 when just 25% believed there was too much worry about individual rights versus 32% who said the emphasis was too much on national security. 

Thirty-six percent (36%) of voters also say the U.S. legal system worries too much these days about protecting individual rights when it comes to public safety, while 23% think there’s too much emphasis on public safety. Thirty-four percent (34%) view the balance between the two as about right.

This, too, marks virtually no change from June of last year just after the U.S. Supreme Court narrowed the scope of so-called Miranda rights. 

Generally speaking, most voters think the most important role for government is to protect their individual rights.  But nearly half (48%) of American Adults see the government today as a threat to individual rights rather than a protector of those rights. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on March 28-29, 2010 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.


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