Liberties in the balance; New challenges to constitutional freedoms

There's a reason that scales are used to convey the notion of justice. After all, it's only by weighing individual and group rights - and finding the balance between them--that a society can function in an equitable and stable manner.

The American system has proved remarkably able to find the proper balance. It allows an unrestrained right to worship, the existence of a vigorous (often critical) press, and greater personal liberty than many countries on the globe.

Certainly, it has its failings; court decisions that seem to stand justice on its head, laws which hamper police and appear to favor the offender. But, for most of the people, most of the time, the American Constitution has protected freedoms and fostered order and rationality in the administration of justice.

Periodically, however, some critics have attacked the system for its excesses. Often, they have sought to change the Constitution itself. Today, a new push is on to do just that.

In a series of four articles - which starts today--Monitor Special Sections editor Curtis J. Sitomer probes the nature of the forces that are trying to bend the supreme law of the land. He analyzes the ability of the Constitution to adjust to changing times. Finally, he looks into the emerging legal issues as the nation moves toward a critical third century. ''Liberties in the Balance: new challenges to constitutional freedoms'' begins in today's Monitor on Page 12 .

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