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Human Rights Violations after 9/11 and the Role of Constitutional Constraints

Journal of Legal Studies Vol. 41, p.131, 2012

CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper

Posted: 8 Apr 2009 Last revised: 9 Sep 2012

Benedikt Goderis

The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: November 15, 2011

Abstract

After 9/11, the United States and its allies took measures to protect their citizens from future terrorist attacks. While these measures aim to increase security, they have often been criticized for violating human rights. But violating rights is difficult in a constitutional democracy with separated powers and checks and balances. This paper empirically investigates the effect of the post-9/11 terror threat on human rights. We find strong evidence of a systematic increase in rights violations in the U.S. and its ally countries after 9/11. When testing the importance of checks and balances, we find that this increase is significantly smaller in countries with independent judicial review (counter-majoritarian checks), but did not depend on the presence of veto players in the legislative branch (majoritarian checks). These findings have important implications for constitutional debates on rights protection in times of emergency.

Keywords: human rights, terrorism, 9/11, checks and balances, constitutions, constitutional courts

JEL Classification: K19, D72, F52

Suggested Citation

Goderis, Benedikt and Versteeg, Mila, Human Rights Violations after 9/11 and the Role of Constitutional Constraints (November 15, 2011). Journal of Legal Studies Vol. 41, p.131, 2012; CELS 2009 4th Annual Conference on Empirical Legal Studies Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1374376

Benedikt Goderis (Contact Author)

The Netherlands Institute for Social Research|SCP ( email )

Rijnstraat 50
The Haag, 2515
Netherlands

Mila Versteeg

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

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