New Poll: Majority of American Voters Want Next President to Restore and Protect Civil Liberties; Seek a More Assertive Congress

The majority of U.S. voters want the next president to protect civil liberties and the Constitution, according to a recent survey of 738 registered voters conducted for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The poll also found that twice as many likely voters (49 percent) are unhappy that Congress has not done enough to check presidential abuses of power than those (25 percent) who think Congress has interfered too much.

A clear majority of Americans favor each of five civil liberty priorities identified in the survey, with majorities of both Democrats and Independents supporting all five initiatives and Republicans supporting four of the five. Americans want the next president to:

  • End torture: "make it clear that the policy of the United States is to oppose torture and follow the Geneva Conventions" (Democrats 80 percent, Independents 87 percent, Republicans 74 percent);
  • Define "enemy combatant": "work with Congress to establish a legal definition of ‘enemy combatant' rather than leaving it up to each president to decide" (Democrats 80 percent, Independents 70 percent, Republicans 69 percent);
  • Restore habeas corpus: "restore habeas corpus rights for people held at Guantánamo" (Democrats 80 percent, Independents 77 percent, Republicans 54 percent);
  • End warrantless wiretapping: "require the government to get a court warrant to listen to the telephone calls of people in the U.S." (Democrats 65 percent, Independents 59 percent, Republicans 50 percent); and
  • Close Guantánamo: "close the prison at Guantánamo and schedule trials in the U.S. courts for the terrorist suspects currently held there" (Democrats 69 percent, Independents 61 percent, Republicans 43 percent).

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