While the courts have generally protected our individual freedoms, the American people tend to support the restriction of these rights in practice. What reasons do you believe account for this...

While the courts have generally protected our individual freedoms, the American people tend to support the restriction of these rights in practice. What reasons do you believe account for this fundamental difference of view, other than a person’s ignorance? 

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We say that Americans support the restriction of rights such as civil liberties, but that is only true when the rights of unpopular people are at stake.  When the rights of the “average person” are at issue, people tend to support rights just as much as the courts do.

For example, Americans are very wary of new surveillance techniques.  They do not want the government to be able to use drones because they fear incursions on their rights.  They do not want the government to be able to track them via GPS.  These are instances in which the people are just as firmly supportive of rights as the courts are.

When Americans do not support rights, it is generally because they dislike the people whose rights are at stake.  They feel that the US is a democracy and they, as the majority, should be able to take rights from whoever they choose.  For example, many Americans would support taking rights away from the Westboro Baptist Church even though the Supreme Court has upheld the right of that church to protest.  This is not done out of ignorance.  It is done because popular sovereignty (the idea that the majority rules) is an important aspect of democracy just as individual rights are.

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