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Famous Quotes and Quotations about Law

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A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.
more Edward Abbey quotes
There is simply no escaping the fact that the fate of the Constitution is in our hands -- as voters, representatives, justices. If we allow ourselves to abuse the tradition of higher lawmaking, the very idea that the Constitution can be viewed as the culminating expression of a mobilized citizenry will disintegrate. After all, the American Republic is no more eternal than the Roman -- and it will come to an end when American citizens betray their Constitution’s fundamental ideals and aspirations so thoroughly that existing institutions merely parody the public meanings they formerly conveyed
more Bruce Ackerman quotes
There is simply no escaping the fact that the fate of the Constitution is in our hands -- as voters, representatives, justices. If we allow ourselves to abuse the tradition of higher lawmaking, the very idea that the Constitution can be viewed as the culminating expression of a mobilized citizenry will disintegrate. After all, the American Republic is no more eternal than the Roman -- and it will come to an end when American citizens betray their Constitution’s fundamental ideals and aspirations so thoroughly that existing institutions merely parody the public meanings they formerly conveyed.
more Bruce Ackerman quotes
Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would. Nor is there anything in the common law of England ... inconsistent with that right.
more John Adams quotes
Resistance to sudden violence, for the preservation not only of my person, my limbs and life, but of my property, is an indisputable right of nature which I have never surrendered to the public by the compact of society, and which perhaps, I could not surrender if I would. Nor is there anything in the common law of England inconsistent with that right.
more John Adams quotes
Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
more John Adams quotes
The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the law of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.
more John Adams quotes
no good government but what is republican... the very definition of a republic is 'an empire of laws, and not of men.'
more John Adams quotes
If Aristotle, Livy, and Harrington knew what a republic was, the British constitution is much more like a republic than an empire. They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men. If this definition is just, the British constitution is nothing more or less than a republic, in which the king is first magistrate. This office being hereditary, and being possessed of such ample and splendid prerogatives, is no objection to the government's being a republic, as long as it is bound by fixed laws, which the people have a voice in making, and a right to defend.
more John Adams quotes
Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.
more John Adams quotes
Each individual of the society has a right to be protected by it in the enjoyment of his life, liberty, and property, according to standing laws. He is obliged, consequently, to contribute his share to the expense of this protection; and to give his personal service, or an equivalent, when necessary. But no part of the property of any individual can, with justice, be taken from him, or applied to public uses, without his own consent, or that of the representative body of the people. In fine, the people of this commonwealth are not controllable by any other laws than those to which their constitutional representative body have given their consent.
more John Adams quotes
Every citizen must look up to the laws, as his master, his guardian, and his friend; and whenever any of his fellow citizens, whether magistrates or subjects, attempt to deprive him of his right, he must appeal to the laws; if the aristocracy encroach, he must appeal to the democracy; if they are divided, he must appeal to the monarchical power to decide between them, by joining with that which adheres to the laws; if the democracy is on the scramble for power, he must appeal to the aristocracy, and the monarchy, which by uniting may restrain it. If the regal authority presumes too far, he must appeal to the other two. Without three divisions of power, stationed to watch each other, and compare each other's conduct with the laws, it will be impossible that the laws should at all times preserve their authority, and govern all men.
more John Adams quotes
They define a republic to be a government of laws, and not of men.
more John Adams quotes
It may perhaps be a Sufficient Recommendation of this Article to say that it was introduced by Mr Charles Pinkney of South Carolina, and he ought to have the Glory of it. But I confess I never understood it, and I believe no other Man ever did or ever will. A Republican Government is a Government of more than one. The Word Republick has been used, it is true by learned Men to Signify every actual and every possible Government among Men, that of Constantinople as well as that of Geneva. But the most accurate Writers distinguish Republicks from Despotisms and Simple Monarchies, and call every Government by that name in which more than one Person is concerned in the Sovereignty, and in this Sense the Kingdoms of Sparta Poland and England were Republicks as truely as Saint Marino. Venice Holland and other States were universally called Republicks both by the Learned and unlearned; yet the People in these States had certainly no more Liberty than those of England or France. The most Accurate distinction then has been between free Republicks and Republicks which are not free. It is not even said in our Constitution that the People shall be guarranteed in a Free Republican Government. The Word is So loose and indeffinite that Successive Predominant Factions will put Glosses and Constructions upon it as different as light and darkness, and if ever there should be a Civil War which Heaven forbid, the conquering General in all his Tryumphs may establish a Military Despotism and yet call it a constitutional Republic as Napoleon has already Set him the Example. The only Effect of it that I could ever See, is to deceive the People: and this practice my heart abhors my head disapproves, and my Tongue my Pen have ever avoided.
more John Adams quotes
Law logic -- an artificial system of reasoning, exclusively used in courts of justice, but good for nothing anywhere else.
more John Quincy Adams quotes
But the indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the RIGHT, but in the HEART. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it !) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other, when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interests shall fester into hatred, the bonds of political association - will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies ; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship with each other than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution, to form again a more perfect Union, by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the center.
more John Quincy Adams quotes
The laws of man may bind him in chains or may put him to death, but they never can make him wise, virtuous, or happy.
more John Quincy Adams quotes
The liberties of our country, the freedom of our civil Constitution, are worth defending at all hazards; and it is our duty to defend them against all attacks. We have received them as a fair inheritance from our worthy ancestors: they purchased them for us with toil and danger and expense of treasure and blood, and transmitted them to us with care and diligence. It will bring an everlasting mark of infamy on the present generation, enlightened as it is, if we should suffer them to be wrested from us by violence without a struggle, or to be cheated out of them by the artifices of false and designing men.
more Samuel Adams quotes
If men, through fear, fraud, or mistake, should in terms renounce or give up any natural right, the eternal law of reason and the grand end of society would absolutely vacate such renunciation. The right to freedom being the gift of Almighty God, it is not in the power of man to alienate this gift and voluntarily become a slave.
more Samuel Adams quotes
Were the talents and virtues which heaven has bestowed on men given merely to make them more obedient drudges, to be sacrificed to the follies and ambition of a few? Or, were not the noble gifts so equally dispensed with a divine purpose and law, that they should as nearly as possible be equally exerted, and the blessings of Providence be equally enjoyed by all?
more Samuel Adams quotes
Through the rapid proliferation of laws reaching every corner of human existence, “the government is manufacturing more criminals now than ever before.” The list of illegal activities includes more minutiae than one would think possible. Beer-makers are barred from listing alcohol content on bottles, and liquor distilleries cannot advertise on TV. Filling one’s own prairie pothole can land a property owner in jail, as can protecting private property from unlawful intruders. Placing handbills in neighbors’ mailboxes is strictly prohibited, and attempting to sell nectarines of an improper size is a federal offense. Companies are no longer allowed to give salaried professionals partial days off without pay, and in Texas it is a crime to call oneself an interior designer without the government’s permission. It is perhaps easier to recount all that remains legal than all that is now prohibited.
more Jonathan H. Adler quotes
It is the duty of the officials to prevent or suppress the threatened disorder with a firm hand instead of timidly yielding to threats…. Surely a speaker ought not to be suppressed because his opponents propose to use violence. It is they who should suffer from their lawlessness, not he.
more American Bar Association quotes
I shall not counsel or maintain any suit or proceeding which shall appear to me to be unjust, nor any defense except such as I believe to be honestly debatable under the law of the land.
more American Bar Association quotes
Daniel Webster, James Otis, and Sir Edward Coke all pointed out that the mere fact of enactment does not and cannot raise mere statutes to the standing of law. Not everything can be considered the Law of the Land.
more American Jurisprudence (Second) quotes
No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law, and no courts are bound to enforce it.
more American Jurisprudence, 2nd Edition quotes
I am commonly opposed to those who modestly assume the rank of champions of liberty, and make a very patriotic noise about the people. It is the stale artifice which has duped the world a thousand times, and yet, though detected, it is still successful. I love liberty as well as anybody. I am proud of it, as the true title of our people to distinction above others; but ... I would guard it by making the laws strong enough to protect it.
more Fisher Ames quotes
The test of every religious, political, or educational system is the man that it forms.
more Henri-Frédéric Amiel quotes
It was we, the people; not we, the white male citizens; nor yet we, the male citizens; but we, the whole people, who formed the Union.
more Susan B. Anthony quotes
Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: “Things must change—no matter how, Anything is better than what we have.” Totalitarian rulers organize this kind of mass sentiment, and by organizing it articulate it, and by articulating it make the people somehow love it. They were told before, thou shalt not kill; and they didn’t kill. Now they are told, thou shalt kill; and although they think it’s very difficult to kill, they do it because it’s now part of the code of behavior. They learn whom to kill and how to kill and how to do it together. This is the much talked about Gleichschaltung—the coordination process. You are coordinated not with the powers that be, but with your neighbor—coordinated with the majority. But instead of communicating with the other you are now glued to him. And you feel of course marvelous. Totalitarianism appeals to the very dangerous emotional needs of people who live in complete isolation and in fear of one another.
more Hannah Arendt quotes
For man, when perfected, is the best of animals, but, when separated from law and justice, he is the worst of all; since armed injustice is the more dangerous, and he is equipped at birth with the arms of intelligence and with moral qualities which he may use for the worst ends.
more Aristotle quotes
It makes no difference whether a good man has defrauded a bad man, or a bad man defrauded a good man, or whether a good or bad man has committed adultery: the law can look only to the amount of damage done.
more Aristotle quotes
[T]he tax code has been piling up, year after year, a symbol of everything gone wrong in America, of arrogant rulers and lost freedom, just waiting for us to pick the whole thing up and heave it away. It has to happen. Free people can put up with such laws only for so long.
more Richard Armey quotes
Government is saying to the average citizen every January 1: 'For the next five months you’ll be working for us, for goals we shall determine. Is that clear? After May 5 you may look after your own needs and ambitions, but report back to us next January. Now move along.' ... If nearly half of what you make is spent by someone else, that means that half your work time is spent working for someone else. Call me a radical, but I think that comes dangerously close to being a form of indentured servitude.
more Richard Armey quotes
The people themselves, not their government, should be trusted with spending their own money and making their own decisions.
more Richard Armey quotes
The spectacle of a judge pouring over the picture of some nude, trying to ascertain the extent to which she arouses prurient interests, and then attempting to write an opinion which explains the difference between that nude and some other nude has elements of low comedy.
more Thurman Arnold quotes
It is a part of the function of “law” to give recognition to ideas representing the exact opposite of established conduct. Most of the complications arise from the necessity of pretending to do one thing, while actually doing another.
more Thurman Arnold quotes
Once the government becomes the supplier of people's needs, there is no limit to the needs that will be claimed as a basic right.
more Lawrence Auster quotes
Let me point this out now. Your income tax is 100 percent voluntary tax, and your liquor tax is 100 percent enforced tax. Now, the situation is as different as night and day. Consequently, your same rules just will not apply...
more Dwight E. Avis quotes
One of the Seven [wise men of Greece] was wont to say: That laws were like cobwebs, where the small flies are caught and the great break through.
more Sir Francis Bacon quotes
A just fear of an imminent danger, though there be no blow given, is a lawful cause of war.
more Sir Francis Bacon quotes
The Internal Revenue Service is everything the so-called tax protesters said it was; nonresponsive, unable to withstand scrutiny, tyrannical, and oblivious to the rule of law and the U.S. Constitution.
more Joseph Banister quotes
Self-defense is a part of the law of nature; nor can it be denied the community, even against the king himself.
more William Barclay quotes
The best way to understand this whole issue is to look at what the government does: it takes money from some people, keeps a bunch of it, and gives the rest to other people.
more Dave Barry quotes
What right does Congress have to go around making laws just because they deem it necessary?
more Mayor Marion Barry quotes
Sometimes the law defends plunder and participates in it. Sometimes the law places the whole apparatus of judges, police, prisons and gendarmes at the service of the plunderers, and treats the victim -- when he defends himself -- as a criminal.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
All you have to do, is to see whether the law takes from some what belongs to them in order to give it to others to whom it does not belong. We must see whether the law performs, for the profit of one citizen and to the detriment of others, an act which that citizen could not perform himself without being guilty of a crime. Repeal such a law without delay. ... [I]f you don’t take care, what begins by being an exception tends to become general, to multiply itself, and to develop into a veritable system.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
What, then, is the law? It is the collective organization of the individual right to lawful defense. ... since an individual cannot lawfully use force against the person, liberty, or property of another individual, then the common force -- for the same reason -- cannot lawfully be used to destroy the person, liberty, or property of individual groups. ... But, unfortunately, law by no means confines itself to its proper functions. And when it has exceeded its proper functions, it has not done so merely in some inconsequential and debatable matters. The law has gone further than this; it has acted in direct opposition to its own purpose. The law has been used to destroy its own objective: It has been applied to annihilating the justice that it was supposed to maintain; to limiting and destroying rights which its real purpose was to respect. The law has placed the collective force at the disposal of the unscrupulous who wish, without risk, to exploit the person, liberty, and property of others. It has converted plunder into a right, in order to protect plunder. And it has converted lawful defense into a crime, in order to punish lawful defense.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
As long as the law may be diverted from its true purpose -- that it may violate property instead of protecting it -- then everyone will want to participate in making the law, either to protect himself against plunder or to use it for plunder. Political questions will always be prejudicial, dominant, and all-absorbing. There will be fighting to gain access to the legislature as well as fighting within it.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
Thus, if there exists a law which sanctions slavery or monopoly, oppression or robbery, in any form whatever, it must not even be mentioned. For how can it be mentioned without damaging the respect which it inspires? Still further, morality and political economy must be taught from the point of view of this law; from the supposition that it must be a just law merely because it is a law. Another effect of this tragic perversion of the law is that it gives an exaggerated importance to political passions and conflicts, and to politics in general.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
The mission of the law is not to oppress persons and plunder them of their property, even though the law may be acting in a philanthropic spirit. Its purpose is to protect persons and property.... If you exceed this proper limit -- if you attempt to make the law religious, fraternal, equalizing, philanthropic, industrial, or artistic -- you will then be lost in uncharted territory, in vagueness and uncertainty, in a forced utopia or, even worse, in a multitude of utopias, each striving to seize the law and impose it on you.
more Frederic Bastiat quotes
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