« Conscience
Home Page
Cornel West »

Constitution Day
(permalink)

Published Wednesday, September 17, 2014 @ 12:00 AM EDT
Sep 17 2014

-----

A citizen's constitutional rights can hardly be infringed simply because a majority of the people choose that it be.
-Earl Warren

A Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.
-John Adams

A country that can put men on the moon can put women in the Constitution.
-Margaret Heckler

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.
-Felix Frankfurter

(A)s terrible as it was, 9/11 did not repeal the Constitution.
-Judge Rosemary Pooler

As the Constitution endures, persons in every generation can invoke its principles in their own search for greater freedom.
-Anthony Kennedy

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.
-Gore Vidal

Constitutions should consist only of general provisions; the reason is that they must necessarily be permanent, and that they cannot calculate for the possible change of things.
-Alexander Hamilton

Corruption, the most infallible symptom of constitutional liberty.
-Edward Gibbon

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.
-Benjamin Disraeli

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 believe in.
-Dalton Trumbo

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.
-Andrew Jackson

Even the most vile murderer does not release the state from its constitutional obligation to respect human dignity, for the state does not honor the victim by emulating the murderer who took his life. The fatal infirmity of capital punishment is that it treats members of the human race as non-humans, as objects to be toyed with and discarded.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

Experience has already shown that the impeachment the Constitution has provided is not even a scarecrow.
-Thomas Jefferson

For legislators make the citizens good by forming habits in them, and this is the wish of every legislator, and those who do not effect it miss their mark, and it is in this that a good constitution differs from a bad one.
-Aristotle

History teaches that grave threats to liberty often come in times of urgency, when constitutional rights seem too extravagant to endure.
-Thurgood Marshall

Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution of your country and the government established under it. Leave evils which exist in some parts of the country, but which are beyond your control, to the all-wise direction of an over-ruling Providence. Perform those duties which are present, plain and positive. Respect the laws of your country.
-Daniel Webster

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.
-Carl Sagan

I always keep my Constitution in my coat pocket... You ought to keep one on you all the time.
-Hugo Black

I believe that our Constitution, with its absolute guarantee of individual rights, is the best hope for the aspirations of freedom which men share everywhere.
-Hugo Black

I have a problem with people who take the Constitution loosely and the Bible literally.
-Bill Maher

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.
-Thomas Jefferson

I love my liberty, and imprisonment would be, to say the least, very disagreeable to me; but there are some things that are even less desirable, among them one's loss of self-respect and the loss of inherent and lawful constitutional right.
-Samuel Gompers

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.
-Molly Ivins

I think there are only three things America will be known for 2,000 years from now when they study this civilization: the Constitution, jazz music, and baseball.
-Gerald Early

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.
-Lowell Weicker

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 proudest heritage.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

If the Constitution of the United States cannot extend the arm of protection around the weakest and humblest of American citizens as around the strongest and proudest, then it is not worth the paper it is written on.
-James Weldon Johnson

If you have a weak candidate and a weak platform, wrap yourself up in the American flag and talk about the Constitution.
-Matthew Stanley Quay

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 Jehovah.
-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 America.
-Molly Ivins

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.
-Alex Kozinski

It should be mandatory that every president would read the Constitution. Too many swear to uphold the Constitution and then make end runs around it.
-Helen Thomas

It so happens that everything that is stupid is not unconstitutional.
-Antonin Scalia

Let it be borne on the flag under which we rally in every exigency, that we have one country, one constitution, one destiny.
-Daniel Webster

Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women. When it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it.
-Learned Hand

Neither the wisest constitution nor the wisest laws will secure the liberty and happiness of a people whose manners are universally corrupt.
-Samuel Adams

Nothing in the Constitution compels us to listen to or view any unwanted communication, whatever its merit.
-Warren Burger

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.
-Thomas Jefferson

One can conclude that certain essential, or fundamental, rights should exist in any just society. It does not follow that each of those essential rights is one that we as judges can enforce under the written Constitution
-Anthony Kennedy

One great object of the Constitution was to restrain majorities from oppressing minorities or encroaching upon their just rights. Minorities have a right to appeal to the Constitution as a shield against such oppression.
-James K. Polk

Our Constitution is in actual operation; everything appears to promise that it will last; but nothing in this world is certain but death and taxes.
-Benjamin Franklin

Our Constitution protects aliens, drunks, and U.S. Senators. There ought to be one day (just one) when there is open season on senators.
-Will Rogers

Our Constitution was not written in the sands to be washed away by each wave of new judges blown in by each successive political wind.
-Hugo Black

Our forefathers weren't the Pilgrims. We didn't land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us. We were brought here against our will. We were not brought here to be made citizens. We were not brought here to enjoy the constitutional gifts that they speak so beautifully about today.
-Malcolm X

Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds.
-Thurgood Marshall

People who burn the flag are exercising their Constitutional rights. Congressman who take money from special interest groups are abusing theirs.
-Kevin G. Barkes

Philadelphia was the first city to foresee the advantages of a Federal constitution and oatmeal as a breakfast food.
-Christopher Morley

Preferring members of any one group for no reason other than race or ethnic origin is discrimination for its own sake. This the Constitution forbids.
-Lewis F. Powell, Jr.

Since when is public safety the root password to the Constitution?
-C.D. Tavares

Some may more quietly commemorate the suffering, struggle, and sacrifice that has triumphed over much of what was wrong with the original document, and observe the anniversary with hopes not realized and promises not fulfilled. I plan to celebrate the bicentennial of the Constitution as a living document, including the Bill of Rights and the other amendments protecting individual freedoms and human rights.
-Thurgood Marshall

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.
-Thomas Jefferson

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.
-James Madison

Surely they knew that the very idea of the future came in an American box- complete with instructions for assembling a Constitution, a MacDonald's hamburger franchise, a row of Marriot hotels and a First Amendment.
-Lewis H. Lapham

Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between church and state.
-James K. Polk

The American Constitution is, so far as I can see, the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man.
-William Gladstone

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.
-George Washington

The case for freedom, the case for our constitutional principles the case for our heritage has to be made anew in each generation. The work of freedom is never done.
-Anthony Kennedy

The Constitution doesn't belong to a bunch of judges and lawyers. It belongs to you.
-Anthony Kennedy

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.
-Clarence Darrow

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 Constitution was made to guard the people against the dangers of good intentions.
-Daniel Webster

The constitutional vision of human dignity rejects the possibility of political orthodoxy imposed from above; it respects the right of each individual to form and to express political judgments, however far they may deviate from the mainstream and however unsettling they might be to the powerful or the elite.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

The establishment of the chaplainship in Congress is a palpable violation of equal rights as well as of Constitutional principles. The danger of silent accumulations and encroachments by ecclesiastical bodies has not sufficiently engaged attention in the U.S.
-James Madison

The evils we experience flow from the excess of democracy. The people do not want virtue, but are the dupes of pretended patriots.
-Elbridge Gerry (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.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

The gentlemen who wrote the Constitution were as suspicious of efficient government as they were wary of democracy, a 'turbulence and a folly' that was associated with the unruly ignorance of an urban mob.
-Lewis H. Lapham

The government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and major social transformations to attain the system of constitutional government and its respect for the freedoms and individual rights, we hold as fundamental today.
-Thurgood Marshall

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 longer.
-Henry Kissinger

The layman's Constitutional view is that what he likes is Constitutional and that which he doesn't like is un-Constitutional. That about measures up the Constitutional acumen of the average person.
-Hugo Black

The mind is no match with the heart in persuasion; constitutionality is no match with compassion.
-Everett Dirksen

The miners lost because they had only the constitution. The other side had bayonets. In the end, bayonets always win.
-Mary Harris Jones (Mother 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.
-Abraham Lincoln

(The press) is not a fourth branch of government, the press plays an essential role in 'obliging the government to control itself.' And if we do not serve in this way, the rest of the rights guaranteed by our Constitution cannot be sustained.
-Katharine Graham

The property qualifications for federal office that the framers of the Constitution expressly chose to exclude for demonstrating an unseemly 'veneration of wealth' are now de facto in force and higher than the Founding Fathers could have imagined.
-Bill Moyers

The public welfare demands that constitutional cases must be decided according to the terms of the Constitution itself, and not according to judges' views of fairness, reasonableness, or justice.
-Hugo Black

The right to be let alone is the underlying principle of the Constitution's Bill of Rights.
-Erwin N. Griswold

The U.S. Constitution and the Bible have a lot in common. Few people have read them in their entirety; they are quoted out of context and cherry-picked; their official interpreters wear robes and issue pronouncements that sometimes benefit an entitled few or discriminate against women and minorities; and their decrees and commandments are simply ignored when they interfere with the interests of those in power.
-Kevin G. Barkes

The U.S. constitution is an extraordinary document. In my view, it should not be amended often.
-Bernie Sanders

There can be no impairment of executive power, whether on the state or federal level, where actions pursuant to that power are impermissible under the Constitution. Where there is no power, there can be no impairment of power.
-William J. Brennan, Jr.

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 president.
-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

There is nothing I dread so much as a division of the Republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader and converting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
-John Adams

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.
-Abraham Lincoln

Today's Constitution is a realistic document of freedom only because of several corrective amendments. Those amendments speak to a sense of decency and fairness that I and other blacks cherish.
-Thurgood Marshall

Ultimately all the questions boil down to one- Whether we as a people will try fearfully and futilely to preserve democracy by adopting totalitarian methods, or whether in accordance with our traditions, and our constitution we will have the confidence and courage to be free.
-Hugo Black

Under our constitutional system, courts stand, against any winds that blow, as havens of refuge for those who might otherwise suffer because they are helpless, weak, outnumbered, or because they are nonconforming victims of prejudice and public excitement.
-Hugo Black

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 have built into the constitution of the human race the habit and desire of taking, as divorced from its natural precursor and concomitant of making.
-Charlotte Perkins Gilman

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.
-Gore Vidal

What becomes of our democracy when such conditions of inequality as these can be brought about through chicanery, he open violation of the law and defiance of the Constitution?
-James Weldon Johnson

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.
-Walter Lippmann

With respect to the words 'general welfare,' I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators.
-James Madison

Without faith we might relapse into scientific or rational thinking, which leads by a slippery slope toward constitutional democracy.
-Robert Anton Wilson


Categories: Constitution Day, Quotes on a topic, U.S. Constitution


Feedburner RSS Subscribe  Email Subscribe  Home   Commentwear   E-Mail KGB


Donate via PayPal


Older entries, Archives and Categories       Top of page


Like KGB Report on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

« Conscience
Home Page
Cornel West »