Justice William O. Douglas Quotes

 

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Justice William O. Douglas Quotes 1-20 out of 24
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We recognize the force of the argument that the effects of war under modern conditions may be felt in the economy for years and years, and that if the war power can be used in days of peace to treat all the wounds which war inflicts on our society, it may not only swallow up all other powers of Congress but largely obliterate the Ninth and the Tenth Amendments as well.
Freedom of movement is the very essence of our free society -- once the right to travel is curtailed, all other rights suffer.
Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publication, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads. ... Fear of criticism goes with every person into the bookstall. The subtle, imponderable pressures of the orthodox lay hold. Some will fear to read what is unpopular, what the powers-that-be dislike. ... fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, book stores, and homes in the land.
The function of the prosecutor under the federal Constitution is not to tack as many skins of victims as possible against the wall. His function is to vindicate the rights of the people as expressed in the laws and give those accused of crime a fair trial.
Those in power need checks and restraints lest they come to identify the common good for their own tastes and desires, and their continuation in office as essential to the preservation of the nation.
It is our attitude toward free thought and free expression that will determine our fate. There must be no limit on the range of temperate discussion, no limits on thought. No subject must be taboo. No censor must preside at our assemblies.
The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedom.
Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us?
My faith is that the only soul a man must save is his own.
As nightfall does not come all at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness.
When a legislature undertakes to proscribe the exercise of a citizen's constitutional rights it acts lawlessly and the citizen can take matters into his own hands and proceed on the basis that such a law is no law at all.
Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat us.
It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches us, that the guilty sometimes go free than the citizens be subject to easy arrest.
Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like.
The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen -- a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person’s] life.
The framers of the constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty.
A people who extend civil liberties only to preferred groups start down the path either to dictatorship of the right or the left.
The Fifth Amendment is an old friend and a good friend. It is one of the great landmarks in men’s struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized.
The struggle is always between the individual and his sacred right to express himself and…the power structure that seeks conformity, suppression and obedience.
The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information.
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Justice William O. Douglas Quotes 1-20 out of 24
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