Gallup: The federal government’s recent actions to limit the scope of what it can do to prevent terrorism are consistent with Americans’ preference to prioritize civil liberties over anti-terrorism efforts when the two come into conflict. Sixty-five percent of Americans say the government should take steps to prevent terrorism but not violate civil liberties, while 30% think any steps to prevent terrorism are justified, even if they violate liberties. In the first few months after 9/11, Americans were more divided on the issue.
Americans continue to place a greater emphasis on civil liberties even as concern about terrorism has risen amid the growing threat of ISIS.
The change in the public opinion climate, which is reflected in the views of elected representatives, may help explain why the newly passed USA Freedom Act pulls back some of the powers the Patriot Act provided to the government in its efforts to prevent terrorism.