"The government is the potent omnipresent teacher. For good or ill it teaches the whole people by its example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that the end justifies the means -- to declare that the government may commit crimes -- would bring terrible retribution."
by:
Justice Louis D. Brandeis
(1856-1941) US Supreme Court Justice
Source:
Olmstead v. United States, 277 US 438, 1928
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Reader comments about this quote:
Vigilantism, Timothy Mcveigh, and the current distrust amongst many for our government (to name but a few) are resounding reasons why this quote is so "potent".
 -- Brent Bird, portland, or     
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    Agree 100%. In fact, most governments end up this way eventually. Just read 1 Samuel 8, which describes what an evil King/Government will do, then put it to today's language. Have any questions?
     -- Gary Frye, Concord, NC     
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     -- ivan damjanov, Shawnee Mission      
    Justice Brandeis is brillant. His quotes remain timeless. The goverment and its agencies including law enforcement justify their criminal activities by declaring that the end justifies the means. Could this be the reason 2,000,000+ people are incarcerated in the U.S. today?
     -- jacqueline polk, apple valley     
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    WOW ! ! ! It doesn't get more accurate than that. The current police state's atrocities lead the way by example in a degenerating nation of corruption. Said very well.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Louis D. Brandeis was a wise man. Would we could all be so wise in our perspectives.
     -- anonymous     
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    jaqueline polk, you said it very well. The main reason that our jails are filled up is this miserable War on Drugs. Prohibition always creates many more problems than it cures. Check out LEAP.cc on the web.
     -- jim k, austin tx     
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    Retribution does come. Contempt for law is rampant. Violation of common sense does breed contempt and mistrust of our government and its leadership.
     -- Ron w13, Or     
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     -- E Archer, NYC      
    Justice Louis D. Brandeis was absolutely correct and his warning has come to full fruition. The federal government has become lawless in often violating the U.S. Constitution ... and in brazenly displaying full out contempt for this sovereign nation's ONLY Supreme Rule of Law.
     -- Mary-MI     
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