More for Constitution Day...
A citizen's constitutional rights can hardly be infringed simply because
a majority of the people choose that it be.
A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be
restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
A country that can put men on the moon can put women in the Constitution.
All our work, our whole life is a matter of semantics, because words are
the tools with which we work, the material out of which laws are made,
out of which the Constitution was written. Everything depends on our
understanding of them.
At the constitutional level where we work, ninety percent of any
decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for
supporting our predilections.
-Charles Evans Hughes
Congress no longer declares war or makes budgets. So that's the end of
the constitution as a working machine.
Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.
Demagogues and agitators are very unpleasant, they are incidental to a
free and constitutional country, and you must put up with these
inconveniences or do without many important advantages.
Democracy means that people can say what they want to. All the people.
It means that they can vote as they wish. All the people. It means that
they can worship God in any way they feel right, and that includes
Christians and Jews and voodoo doctors as well. It means that everybody
should have a job, if he's willing to work, and an education, and the
right to bring up his children without fear of the future. And it means
that the old shall be provided for, without shame to themselves or to
their families. It means do unto others as you would have others do unto
you. It also means the prayers of the pilgrim fathers in the wilderness,
and the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution of the United
States, and the Bill of Rights, and the Emancipation Proclamation, and
the dreams of an immigrant mother for her children. And that's what I
Each public officer who takes an oath to support the constitution swears
that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is
understood by others.
Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has
provided is not even a scarecrow.
History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of
urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.
I also wish that the Pledge of Allegiance were directed at the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights, as it is when the President takes
his oath of office, rather than to the flag and the nation.
I am a Conservative to preserve all that is good in our constitution, a
Radical to remove all that is bad. I seek to preserve property and to
respect order, and I equally decry the appeal to the passions of the
many or the prejudices of the few.
I have a problem with people who take the Constitution loosely and the
I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but
the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to
exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to
take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is
the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power.
I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the
Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps
themselves up in the flag.
I'm afraid the Constitution doesn't say anything about the separation of
church and politics.
-Lawrence O'Donnell, Jr.
I've always been a big supporter of the constitutional right of the
people to peaceably assemble and petition government for redress of
grievances. It's just that I never envisioned it taking the form of
thousands of people screaming, "You asshole, you asshole," at me.
If our free society is to endure, and I know it will, those who govern
must recognize that the Framers of the Constitution limited their power
in order to preserve human dignity and the air of freedom which is our
-William J. Brennan, Jr.
If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in
the American flag and talk about the Constitution.
It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded
upon the Bible, and that all who look upon the book as false or foolish
are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our
government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights
of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity
of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government
made by the people and for the people. It is the only nation with which
the gods have had nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest
and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country,
and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of
-Robert G. Ingersoll
It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle
to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in
It is wrong to use some constitutional provisions as springboards for
major social change while treating others like senile relatives to be
cooped up in a nursing home until they quit annoying us.
It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional.
Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no
constitution, no law, no court can save it.
Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the
liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted
communication, whatever its merit.
On every question of construction [of the Constitution] let us carry
ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect
the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning
may be squeezed out of the text, or intended against it, conform to the
probable one in which it was passed.
Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise
that it will last; but nothing in this world is certain but death and
Our Constitution protects aliens, drunks, and U.S. Senators. There ought
to be one day (just one) when there is open season on senators.
Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or
ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake. This the Constitution
-Lewis F. Powell, Jr.
Since when is public safety the root password to the Constitution?
Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence, and deem
them like the ark of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They
ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human.
Strongly guarded as is the separation between religion and government in
the Constitution of the United States the danger of encroachment by
Ecclesiastical Bodies, may be illustrated by precedents already
furnished in their short history.
The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make
and to alter their Constitutions of Government. But the Constitution
which at any time exists, till changed by an explicit and authentic act
of the whole people, is sacredly obligatory upon all.
The Constitution is a delusion and a snare if the weakest and humblest
man in the land cannot be defended in his right to speak and his right
to think as much as the strongest in the land.
The Constitution was framed fundamentally as a bulwark against
governmental power, and preventing the arbitrary administration of
punishment is a basic ideal of any society that purports to be governed
by the rule of law.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.
The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do
not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots. (speech at the
1787 Constitutional Convention)
The genius of the Constitution rests not in any static meaning it might
have had in a world that is dead and gone, but in the adaptability of
its great principles to cope with current problems and current needs.
J. Brennan, Jr.
The great cause of revolutions is this, that while nations move onward,
constitutions stand still.
-Thomas Babington Macaulay
The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little
The miners lost because they had only the constitution. The other side
had bayonets. In the end, bayonets always win.
-Mary Harris Jones
The people of these United States are the rightful masters of both
Congresses and courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to
overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.
The rank and file have let their servants become their masters and
dictators... Provision should be made in all union constitutions for the
recall of leaders. Big salaries should not be paid. Career hunters
should be driven out, as well as leaders who use labor for political
ends. These types are menaces to the advancement of labor.
Harris Jones (Mother Jones)
The right to be let alone is the underlying principle of the
Constitution's Bill of Rights.
-Erwin N. Griswold
There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know
what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be
-Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
There is no Constitutional issue here. The command of the Constitution
is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong- deadly wrong- to deny
any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is
no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the
struggle for human rights.
-Lyndon B. Johnson
This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit
it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can
exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their
revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.
Violence has no constitutional sanction; and every government from the
beginning has moved against it. But where grievances pile high and most
of the elected spokesmen represent the Establishment, violence may be
the only effective response.
-William O. Douglas
We current justices read the Constitution in the only way that we can:
as 20th-century Americans.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.
We should stop going around babbling about how we're the greatest
democracy on earth, when we're not even a democracy. We are a sort of
militarised republic. The founding fathers hated two things, one was
monarchy and the other was democracy, they gave us a constitution that
saw to it we will have neither. I don't know how wise they were.
Where mass opinion dominates the government, there is a morbid
derangement of the true functions of power. The derangement brings about
the enfeeblement, verging on paralysis, of the capacity to govern. This
breakdown in the constitutional order is the cause of the precipitate
and catastrophic decline of Western society.
Without faith we might relapse into scientific or rational thinking,
which leads by a slippery slope toward constitutional democracy.
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