"The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people."
Justice William O. Douglas
(1898-1980), U. S. Supreme Court Justice
The Court Years, 1939-1975, 1980
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Reader comments about this quote:
Now the government is stepping on our backs and taking our guns. The idea of New Orleans police bum-rushing an elderly lady in her own kitchen and "looting" the handgun she owns for self-protection is outrageous. http://www.nraila.org/Issues/Articles/Read.aspx?ID=177
 -- Joe, Rochester, MI     
    Wrong. Justice Douglas, one of the better ones, must have written this early in his career. The Constitution was designed to be a government OF the people, to protect all its people from the greedy who prey on others, whether by taking over the government or otherwise. The government envisaged by the framers was not foreseen as riding the backs of its people.
     -- Dick Trice, Fort Worth     
  • 1
    I think the constitution should be considered in the historical context of documentary evidence of the founder's intent, including (in particular) the Declaration of Independence. It is unfortunate that local law enforcement has become acquainted with federal funding and control. We need to slap their hands away from that cookie-jar on every occassion, since it has become quite apparent that the top level of the federal govt is comprised of traitors in every branch. They've been bought. god help us, rod infowars.com
     -- Rod Porter, Levelland, Texas     
  • 2
     -- Anonymous      
    Said poorly but, is correct in a very around about way. Dick has a good point. Being off the backs of the individual sovereigns would have been seen as a secondary result of a representative republic where the individuals were sovereign and the government their servants.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
    Douglas was one of those super liberals appointed by FDR and all through his years he voted against all states rights and put heavy burdens on peoples backs. Congressman Gerald Ford tried to have him impeached, but the democratic majority congress would not hear of it.
     -- cal, lewisville, tx     
    The Constitution was designed to protect the people from government.
     -- jim k, austin     
  • 1
    I don't know but I have read that the 13 year period between the Revolution and the Constitution were somewhat turbulent times. The new found freedom from the English inflamed some Americans to think they could be free of things like indentured servitude and debts etcetera. Several rebellions developed around such issues, I believe it was Shays Rebellion in Virginia and there was another one in Massachusetts. It would appear that the Constitution was partly designed to put goverment back on the backs of people and to protect property rights of other people. The Constitution was desigend to create a more central and powerful government and Union. The fear of power caused the founders to put checks and balances into the thing and a Bill of Rights as the First Ten Amendments.
     -- Waffl;er, Smith     
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    Waffler, pretty funny. By way of example: Your lawn service can't mow your lawn with out tools such as a lawn mower. Pre-constitution, the Federal Government lacked certain tools to adequately perform the services and duties they were hired for. The lawn service only needed the tools to preform their duties, they didn't need more power to make you, the employer, push the mower or haul the clippings off on your back.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike you obviously are trying to state a difference between tools (lawn mower) and what the Constitution did (law). The tools of governance are laws, regulation etc. and backed up by courts, jails etcetera. I don't pretend to be an authority but it seems to me that the framers (mostly aristocrats) felt like the fabric of society was being torn by these debtor and servitude rebellions. Many observers saw the Constitution as a very conservative document giving power to establish or reestablish law and order into a disintergrating situation. Now thank goodness over time we have via democracy improved upon their highly respected and admired effort, but improve it we did. The tools of governance are laws, authorities.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
    But was it designed to take corporations off the backs of government. Wow! "Super Liberal" what a dirty word; perhaps someone can tell me what in means and while your at it tell me why we didn't impeach or hang Bush's Granddad for treason. It was also designed to protect the minority form the majority and to seperate religion and government, etc, etc, etc. As usual the Supreme court wanting the final word. I'm with Dick one star
     -- RBESRQ     
    I'd like that... maybe if people would read it we would be better off.
     -- David Macfarlane, Pinellas Park     
    True. However, since our Congress has simply turned into a giant counterfeiting operation with every bill merely doling out billions and billions more to government contractors (talk about a corruption of the word 'bill'), we have turned into a nation of debtors. The 'greedy' corporations have gotten their power by eradicating the common law jurisdiction (thank FDR for that) thus turning people into commercial corporate 'persons' and corporations into 'people'. And liberals ignore that under a leftist government, the greedy corporations become government protected nationalist monopolies, so get a grip. We are all just chasing our tails if we do not address the root cause of all this greed for government money -- the fiat money system monopolized by the 'corporation of corporations' the private Federal Reserve Bank. Take away their power to create money out of nothing and charge us interest for the privilege, and it all comes tumbling down. It is not just the greedy corporations, it is every American who will not live within their means. A nation of debtors is a nation of slaves. Welcome to reality.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
  • 3
     -- Roland, Bonner's Ferry      
    E Archer, great comment in general and the first line is perfect.
     -- jim k, Austin     
    If we forced our DC employees to obey it, they would have fewer favors to sell to lobbyists.  They would retire less wealthy, and we taxpayers could save a few more pennies for ourselves. 
     -- Durham, Birmingham,AL     
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