Police State, U.S.A.

26 Pages Posted: 22 Mar 2021 Last revised: 24 May 2021

See all articles by Christopher J. Coyne

Christopher J. Coyne

George Mason University - Department of Economics

Yuliya Yatsyshina


Date Written: February 21, 2021


All governments are potential police states. Constitutionally constrained democracies are no exception, as demonstrated by America’s post-9/11 experience. In the wake of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the U.S. government expanded its domestic police powers in the name of protecting the person, property, and liberties of U.S. persons. Many of these police state powers persist due to the poorly defined and open-ended nature of the resulting “war on terror” and pathologies of democratic politics. We explore how a constitutionally constrained democratic government can take on police state powers that sustain over time. We then catalog some persistent police state powers adopted in the United States after the 9/11 attacks. These include the surveillance state, militarized police, civil asset forfeiture, expanded border patrol, No-Fly lists, and material witness law.

Keywords: border patrol, civil asset forfeiture, militarized police, No-fly lists, material witness law, police state, September 11 attacks, surveillance state, war on terror

JEL Classification: D74, F52, H12, H56

Suggested Citation

Coyne, Christopher J. and Yatsyshina, Yuliya, Police State, U.S.A. (February 21, 2021). GMU Working Paper in Economics No. 21-11, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3790005 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3790005

Christopher J. Coyne (Contact Author)

George Mason University - Department of Economics ( email )

4400 University Drive
Fairfax, VA 22030
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.ccoyne.com/

Yuliya Yatsyshina


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