29% Say Legal System Puts Individual Rights Over National Security

(RASMUSSEN)   Voters appear less concerned these days with protecting individual rights when it comes to national security and public safety.

A new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey finds that 29% of Likely U.S. voters think the legal system in this country worries too much about protecting individual rights at the expense of national security. Twenty-five percent (25%) say the U.S. legal system is more concerned with protecting national security, while 32% say the balance between the two is about right.  Fourteen percent  (14%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The number of voters who worry the legal system is emphasizing individual rights over national security is down 10 points from late March when 39% of voters felt that way.  That matched findings in November 2009 just after President Obama’s decision to try 9/11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed in a U.S. court in New York City rather than before a military tribunal at the Guantanamo prison camp for terrorists.

Thirty percent (30%) of voters now also believe the U.S. legal system worries too much about protecting individual rights when it comes to public safety.  This finding is down six points from late March but is more in line with findings a year ago.  Twenty-three percent (23%) say the legal system cares too much about protecting public safety. Another 34% say the balance is about right.  Twelve percent (12%) are not sure.

Still, 53% of Americans now believe the federal government is more of a threat to individual rights than a protector.

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The survey of 1,000 Likely Voters was conducted on June 22-23, 2011 by Rasmussen Reports. The margin of sampling error is +/- 3 percentage points with a 95% level of confidence. Field work for all Rasmussen Reports surveys is conducted by Pulse Opinion Research, LLC. See methodology.

Male voters believe more than female voters that the legal system worries too much about national security and public safety at the expense of individual rights.

Republicans feel more strongly than Democrats and voters not affiliated with either of the major parties that the legal system worries too much about individual rights when it comes to both national security and public safety.

The majority of Political Class thinks the balance is about right in both cases, while a modest plurality of Mainstream voters worries that the legal system is too concerned with individual rights in matters involving national security and public safety.

Fifty-nine percent (59%) of all voters think protecting individual rights is a more important role for government than managing the economy or promoting social justice.

Most Americans who have served as a juror in a court of law say it was a good or excellent experience.  They are also confident their jury made the right decision.

But most also believe celebrities receive special treatment when they break the law.

Thirty-nine percent (39%) of voters say the federal government currently operates within the limits established by the Constitution of the United States.  Forty-four percent (44%) disagree. Just 28% of voters believe the federal government has the consent of the governed.

Additional information from this survey and a full demographic breakdown are available to Platinum Members only.

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