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Stern Lecture Examines Conflict Between Safety and Civil Liberties

The University of Maryland School of Public Policy hosted a Saul I. Stern Lecture on March 8, featuring James Barr Ames Professor of Law Emeritus Philip Heymann discussing public safety and individual liberty. The lecture was titled, “Must We Choose? Addressing the Conflict Between Public Safety and Individual Liberty.”
School of Public Policy Dean Robert C. Orr started the event, saying, “It is my great pleasure to welcome Philip Heymann to speak on a topic that unfortunately is always topical. It couldn’t be a more important topic, and we couldn’t have a better speaker on the topic.”
Heymann began his lecture by talking about the Bill of Rights. “The Bill of Rights is designed to deal with the threat of an overpowering government,” he said. “Times of danger are times when the public wants a more powerful government.”
When discussing the increase in surveillance on the country, Heymann pointed out the privacy issue that comes into play, asking how the government gets around people’s right to privacy. “What you knowingly expose to the public, you don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy,” he said. “With modern technology, almost everything you do, you knowingly expose to the public.”
Heymann attempted to answer the questions whether we have to choose between public safety and civil liberties. “My conclusion is that the country is always bouncing back when it comes to civil liberties. The country has a resilience,” he said. “We have to ask questions like ‘Is this step that would violate civil liberties really necessary?’”
You can view photos from this event on the SPP Flickr account and video from the event on the SPP YouTube channel