The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated; and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
- Justice Arthur Goldberg
"If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or change its republican form, let them stand as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it."
The First Amendment
reads more like a dream than a law, and no other nation, so far as I know,
has been crazy enough to include such a dream among its fundamental legal
- Kurt Vonnegut
"Gentlemen, I feel
a great difficulty in how to act. I am Vice President. In this I am nothing,
but I may be everything."
- John Adams, first US Vice President
Employed in the service
of my country abroad during the whole course of these transactions, I first
saw the Constitution of the United States in a foreign country. Irritated
by no literary altercation, animated by no public debate, heated by no
party animosity, I read it with great satisfaction, as the result of good
heads prompted by good hearts, as an experiment better adapted to the genius,
character, situation, and relations of this nation and country than any
which had ever been proposed or suggested... Returning to the bosom of
my country after a painful separation from it for ten years, I had the
honor to be elected to a station under the new order of things, and I have
repeatedly laid myself under the most serious obligations to support the
Constitution. The operation of it has equaled the most sanguine expectations
of its friends, and from an habitual attention to it, satisfaction in its
administration, and delight in its effects upon the peace, order, prosperity,
and happiness of the nation I have acquired an habitual attachment to it
and veneration for it.
What other form of government, indeed, can so well deserve our esteem and love? There may be little solidity in an ancient idea that congregations of men into cities and nations are the most pleasing objects in the sight of superior intelligences, but this is very certain, that to a benevolent human mind there can be no spectacle presented by any nation more pleasing, more noble, majestic, or august, than an assembly like that which has so often been seen in this and the other Chamber of Congress, of a Government in which the Executive authority, as well as that of all the branches of the Legislature, are exercised by citizens selected at regular periods by their neighbors to make and execute laws for the general good.
... The existence of such a government as ours for any length of time is a full proof of a general dissemination of knowledge and virtue throughout the whole body of the people. And what object or consideration more pleasing than this can be presented to the human mind?
- John Adams, Inaugural Address as 2nd American President (1797)
"Find your own voice.
Rewrite this, in your own words."
"The Declaration of Independence?"
- Amy gets an inspirational assignment, "Johnny's Girl"
"If the jury feels the law is unjust, we recognize the undisputed power of the jury to acquit, even if its verdict is contrary to the law as given by a judge, and contrary to the evidence ... and the courts must abide by that decision."
If you are to respect
the rule of law, you must have law that can be respected.
- Charles Moore, in Britain's "Daily Telegraph"
What is termed "disrespect
for law" in fact may only be the manifestation of a burning desire for
justice. Order, like law, to be respected, must deserve respect. Disrespect
for an order that does not deserve respect ought not to be condemned as
degeneration, but commended as a healthy regeneration. What I am concerned
about is that lawyers and judges too often regard "order" as a shield for
the protection of privilege.
- JC McRuer
"If I were innocent,
I would want to be tried in a military court. If I were guilty, I would
want to be tried in a civilian court."
- Robert Bork
"All through human history, tyrannies have tried to enforce obedience by prohibiting disrespect for the symbols of their power. The swastika is only one example of many in recent history."
"I have a great horror
of lawlessness, and it does not improve my repugnance to it that it is
practiced upon the lawless."
- Montgomery Blair, during the American Civil War
"Much has been said
of the sanctity of human life, and the absurdity of supposing that we can
teach respect for life by ourselves destroying it. But I am surprised at
the employment of this argument, for it is one which might be brought against
any punishment whatever... Does fining a criminal show want of respect
for property, or imprisoning him, for personal freedom? Just as unreasonable
is it to think that to take the life of a man who has taken that of another
is to show want of regard for human life. We show, on the contrary, most
emphatically our regard for it, by the adoption of a rule that he who violates
that right in another forfeits it for himself, and that while no other
crime that he can commit deprives him of his right to live, this shall.
When there has been brought home to any one, by conclusive evidence, the greatest crime known to the law; and when the attendant circumstances suggest no palliation of the guilt, no hope that the culprit may even yet not be unworthy to live among mankind, nothing to make it probable that the crime was an exception to his general character rather than a consequence of it, then I confess it appears to me that to deprive the criminal of the life of which he has proved himself to be unworthy--solemnly to blot him out from the fellowship of mankind and from the catalogue of the living--is the most appropriate as it is certainly the most impressive, mode in which society can attach to so great a crime the penal consequences which for the security of life it is indispensable to annex to it. I defend this penalty, when confined to atrocious cases, on the very ground on which it is commonly attacked--on that of humanity to the criminal; as beyond comparison the least cruel mode in which it is possible adequately to deter from the crime... one of the strongest recommendations a punishment can have, that it should seem more rigorous than it is; for its practical power depends far less on what it is than on what it seems."
- John Stuart Mill, speech in Parliament defending capital punishment, 1868
The British Empire
is no more, but in a curious way, English Common Law and the structure
of our institutions and those of the United States and the Western World
maintain and expand many of its philosophies.
- Tony O'Reilly
The British constitution
is the result of the thoughts of many minds, in many ages. It is not simple,
no superficial thing, nor to be estimated by superficial understandings.
An ignorant man, who is not fool enough to meddle with a clock, is however
sufficiently confident to think he can safely take to pieces and put together
at his pleasure a moral machine of another guise, importance, and complexity,
composed of far other wheels, and springs, and balances and counteracting
and cooperating powers. Men little think how immorally they act in rashly
meddling with what they do not understand.
- Edmund Burke
I think the monarchy
is an essential part of a balanced constitution in much the same way that
the king is an essential part of the game of chess. He doesn't actually
do very much, but by occupying his square, he prevents others from occupying
I think the history of most countries, not all but most countries which haven't had monarchies or which have gotten rid of monarchies, suggest that once they've gone and politicians start seeking the kind of loyalty and love which monarchs enjoy, you get very serious political problems, and often you get an end to democracy. And I think it would be extremely dangerous to get rid of it.
I think there are many criticisms that you can make of the people who've occupied the throne. They're not perfect. They're not supposed to be. That's not the point. The whole point about them it doesn't really matter who they are, provided they behave themselves within the constitution.
- Peter Hitchens, on the British monarchy
play an important part in canalising and neutralising emotions which would
otherwise attach themselves to real rulers with genuine powers for evil."
- George Orwell
When we see what happens
in countries which had overthrown their aristocratic systems of government
and their royal figurehead, it might be possible to find some virtue in
- AN Wilson, commenting on Germany and Russia in "After the Victorians"
Politicians spend their
lives attempting to make a mark upon history. Kings and Queens embody history.
Ironically, it has become the function of unelected monarchy to dignify
- Jeremy Paxman, "On Royalty"
"Your system of government
is an elective monarchy with a king who rules … but does not reign. Ours
is a republic with a hereditary life president who … reigns but does not
- Lord Hailsham, on the difference between the US and British approach (1963)
Eamon de Valera, future
President of Ireland, once denounced the monarchy as 'a Medieval institution'
and promptly went off and prostrated himself before an Archbishop, his
lordship being dolled up in the full regalia of Lorenzo de Medici... But
Dev had got along well with George VI... In his ambivalence towards the
monarchy — he hated the symbol of the Crown, but liked the monarch — he
was rather an accurate representative of the ambivalence of the Irish people.
- Mary Kenny, "The Irish Independent"
divorced-beheaded-survived." That was how we were taught to memorize the
fates of Henry VIII's six wives back in school. Say what you like about
the monarchical principle, but it makes school history lessons interesting.
Even back in the innocent 1950s, we all knew who the gay kings were. They
were the ones our textbook described as having "favorites." Lots of sniggering
in the back row when that came up. With all respect to Republicanism and
my adopted country, the Presidency has been a dull show by comparison.
- Brit John Derbyshire, in America's "National Review"
A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS
"So, now you give the
Devil the benefit of law!
"Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?"
"Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!"
"Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!"
- William Roper and Sir Thomas More, "A Man for all Seasons"
"Some men think the
earth is round, others think it flat. It is a matter capable of question.
But if it is flat, will the king's command make it round. And if it is
round, will the king's command flatten it? No, I will not sign."
- Sir Thomas More, "A Man for all Seasons"
"You threaten like
a dockside bully."
"Then how should I threaten?"
"Like a minister of state — with justice."
"Oh, justice is what you're threatened with."
"Then I am not threatened."
- Sir Thomas More and Cromwell, "A Man for all Seasons"
"The world must construe
according to its wits; this court must construe according to the law."
- Sir Thomas More, "A Man for all Seasons"
"Why Richard, it profits
a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world... but for Wales?"
- Sir Thomas More to Sir Richard Rich (Welsh Attorney General), "A Man for all Seasons"
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