How do the Alien and Sedition Acts impact our lives today?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Given that the Alien and Sedition Acts were repealed over 200 years ago, they do not affect our lives in any direct and tangible way.  However, you can argue that their legacy does affect us today.

The Alien and Sedition Acts were meant to suppress dissent against the government.  They were used against people who disagreed with the Federalist Party, which was in power at that time.  However, it did not keep those opponents out of power since they won the 1800 presidential election.  At that point, the laws were repealed.

These acts loom large in our history, however.  They are remembered as a very low point in our history, a time when a political party tried to use the law to prevent opposition to the government.  Because these laws are seen in such a bad light, they help to prevent such things from happening again.  In the time since these acts were passed, very few laws have ever been passed that have done anything similar.

By setting a bad example for us, the Alien and Sedition Acts have helped us to make sure that we do not allow the government to pass laws that make dissent illegal.  Thereby, they have impacted our lives today by helping to keep our system of government free and democratic.

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