It has become a commonplace to say that September 11 changed everything. What the writer or speaker usually means by this is that Americans have re-calibrated their views on the relative importance of individual civil liberties and the common good. Like many other national traumas, September 11 may in historical hindsight be seen as a jolt that perhaps necessarily-but at any rate, temporarily-induced a retrenchment on rights.
But if the September-11-changed-everything idea overstates the significance of the event, it also understates the extent to which, at least in the area of privacy, some re-calibration of the balance between liberty and order had already begun quietly to take place. This symposium issue of the Minnesota Law Review is dedicated to examining the degree to which that shift had begun, the costs and benefits of the new legal rules affecting privacy, and the advisability of further changes. The symposium focuses on three areas: financial data, the Fourth Amendment, and medical data.
Not one author in these pages takes up the cause of either total government surveillance, on the one hand, or complete individual privacy, on the other. But, as readers will learn, eschewing those extremes leaves a lot of room for disagreement.
Minnesota Law Review
Dale Carpenter, Introduction: Keeping Secrets, 86 Minn. L. Rev. 1097 (2002)