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38% Say U.S. Legal System Favors Individual Rights Over National Security

Thursday, November 18, 2010

As the controversy over new airport body scanners escalates, voters feel more strongly than ever that the U.S. legal system is more protective of individual freedoms than it is of the nation's overall security.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 38% of Likely U.S. Voters believe the legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights rather than protecting national security.  Twenty-two percent (22%) disagree and think the legal system worries too much about protecting national security at the expense of individual rights. Thirty-two percent (32%) say the balance is about right.  (To see survey question wording, click here.)

These findings show a sharp contrast to voter sentiments a couple years ago, just before the presidential campaign began to heat up.  In February 2008, 25% said our legal system worried too much about protecting individual rights, while 32% felt that way about national security.  Twenty-nine percent (29%) said the balance was about right.

Several lawsuits have been filed against the federal Transportation Security Administration, claiming the full body scanners and physical strip searches are a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. 

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The survey of 1,000 Likely U.S. Voters was conducted on November 15-16, 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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