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Quotes About First Amendment

Quotes tagged as "first-amendment" (showing 1-23 of 23)
Neil deGrasse Tyson
“People cited violation of the First Amendment when a New Jersey schoolteacher asserted that evolution and the Big Bang are not scientific and that Noah's ark carried dinosaurs. This case is not about the need to separate church and state; it's about the need to separate ignorant, scientifically illiterate people from the ranks of teachers.”
Neil deGrasse Tyson

John  Adams
“The science of government it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences; the arts of legislation and administration and negotiation ought to take the place of, indeed exclude, in a manner, all other arts. I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain.”
John Adams, Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife

Christopher Hitchens
“When the Washington Post telephoned me at home on Valentine's Day 1989 to ask my opinion about the Ayatollah Khomeini's fatwah, I felt at once that here was something that completely committed me. It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved. In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying, and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual, and the defense of free expression. Plus, of course, friendship—though I like to think that my reaction would have been the same if I hadn't known Salman at all. To re-state the premise of the argument again: the theocratic head of a foreign despotism offers money in his own name in order to suborn the murder of a civilian citizen of another country, for the offense of writing a work of fiction. No more root-and-branch challenge to the values of the Enlightenment (on the bicentennial of the fall of the Bastille) or to the First Amendment to the Constitution, could be imagined. President George H.W. Bush, when asked to comment, could only say grudgingly that, as far as he could see, no American interests were involved…”
Christopher Hitchens, Hitch-22: A Memoir

Howard Zinn
“I was astonished, bewildered. This was America, a country where, whatever its faults, people could speak, write, assemble, demonstrate without fear. It was in the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. We were a democracy...

But I knew it wasn't a dream; there was a painful lump on the side of my head...

The state and its police were not neutral referees in a society of contending interests. They were on the side of the rich and powerful. Free speech? Try it and the police will be there with their horses, their clubs, their guns, to stop you.

From that moment on, I was no longer a liberal, a believer in the self-correcting character of American democracy. I was a radical, believing that something fundamental was wrong in this country--not just the existence of poverty amidst great wealth, not just the horrible treatment of black people, but something rotten at the root. The situation required not just a new president or new laws, but an uprooting of the old order, the introduction of a new kind of society--cooperative, peaceful, egalitarian.”
Howard Zinn, You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times

Judy Blume
“Censors never go after books unless kids already like them. I don’t even think they know to go after books until they know that children are interested in reading this book, therefore there must be something in it that’s wrong.”
Judy Blume

William O. Douglas
“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."

[The One Un-American Act, Speech to the Author's Guild Council in New York, on receiving the 1951 Lauterbach Award (December 3, 1952)]”
William O. Douglas

James Madison
“Every new & successful example therefore of a perfect separation between ecclesiastical and civil matters, is of importance. And I have no doubt that every new example, will succeed, as every past one has done, in shewing that religion & Govt. will both exist in greater purity, the less they are mixed together.

[Letter to Edward Livingston, 10 July 1822 - Writings 9:100--103]”
James Madison, James Madison: Writings

Rush Limbaugh
“The way liberals are interpreting the First Amendment today is that it prevents anyone who is religious from being in government.”
Rush Limbaugh, The Way Things Ought to Be

Philip Pullman
“Religion grants its adherents malign, intoxicating and morally corrosive sensations. Destroying intellectual freedom is always evil, but only religion makes doing evil feel quite so good.”
Philip Pullman

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
United States Congress

William O. Douglas
“Once the government can demand of a publisher the names of the purchasers of his publications, the free press as we know it disappears. Then the spectre of a government agent will look over the shoulder of everyone who reads. The purchase of a book or pamphlet today may result in a subpoena tomorrow. 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. When the light of publicity may reach any student, any teacher, inquiry will be discouraged. The books and pamphlets that are critical of the administration, that preach an unpopular policy in domestic or foreign affairs, that are in disrepute in the orthodox school of thought will be suspect and subject to investigation. The press and its readers will pay a heavy price in harassment. But that will be minor in comparison with the menace of the shadow which government will cast over literature that does not follow the dominant party line. If the lady from Toledo can be required to disclose what she read yesterday and what she will read tomorrow, fear will take the place of freedom in the libraries, book stores, and homes of the land. Through the harassment of hearings, investigations, reports, and subpoenas government will hold a club over speech and over the press."

[United States v. Rumely, 345 U.S. 41 (1953)]”
William O. Douglas

Michael Shermer
“Creationists have also changed their name ... to intelligent design theorists who study 'irreducible complexity' and the 'abrupt appearance' of life—yet more jargon for 'God did it.' ... Notice that they have no interest in replacing evolution with native American creation myths or including the Code of Hammurabi alongside the posting of the Ten Commandments in public schools.”
Michael Shermer

John F. Kennedy
“From time to time our national history has been marred by forgetfulness of the Jeffersonian principle that restraint is at the heart of liberty. In 1789 the Federalists adopted Alien and Sedition Acts in a shabby political effort to isolate the Republic from the world and to punish political criticism as seditious libel. In 1865 the Radical Republicans sought to snare private conscience in a web of oaths and affirmations of loyalty. Spokesmen for the South did service for the Nation in resisting the petty tyranny of distrustful vengeance. In the 1920's the Attorney General of the United States degraded his office by hunting political radicals as if they were Salem witches. The Nation's only gain from his efforts were the classic dissents of Holmes and Brandeis.

In our own times, the old blunt instruments have again been put to work. The States have followed in the footsteps of the Federalists and have put Alien and Sedition Acts upon their statute books. An epidemic of loyalty oaths has spread across the Nation until no town or village seems to feel secure until its servants have purged themselves of all suspicion of non-conformity by swearing to their political cleanliness.

Those who love the twilight speak as if public education must be training in conformity, and government support of science be public aid of caution.

We have also seen a sharpening and refinement of abusive power. The legislative investigation, designed and often exercised for the achievement of high ends, has too frequently been used by the Nation and the States as a means for effecting the disgrace and degradation of private persons. Unscrupulous demagogues have used the power to investigate as tyrants of an earlier day used the bill of attainder.

The architects of fear have converted a wholesome law against conspiracy into an instrument for making association a crime. Pretending to fear government they have asked government to outlaw private protest. They glorify "togetherness" when it is theirs, and call it conspiracy when it is that of others.

In listing these abuses I do not mean to condemn our central effort to protect the Nation's security. The dangers that surround us have been very great, and many of our measures of vigilance have ample justification. Yet there are few among us who do not share a portion of the blame for not recognizing soon enough the dark tendency towards excess of caution.”
John F. Kennedy

Anthony M. Kennedy
“First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought."

[Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition (00-795), 198 F.3d 1083, affirmed.]”
Anthony M. Kennedy

Robert B. Reich
“A funny thing happened to the First Amendment on its way to the public forum. According to the Supreme Court, money is now speech and corporations are now people. But when real people without money assemble to express their dissatisfaction with the political consequences of this, they’re treated as public nuisances and evicted.”
Robert B. Reich

Frank Bruni
“You can make a successful run for political office in this country without an especially thick résumé, any exceptional talent for expressing yourself, a noteworthy education or, for that matter, a basic grasp of science.

But you better have religion. You better be ready to profess your faith in and fealty to God — the Judeo-Christian one, of course. And you better be convincing. A dust-up last week in the 2014 race for a United States Senate seat from Arkansas provided a sad reminder of this, showing once again that our ballyhooed separation of church and state is less canyon than itty-bitty crack.”
Frank Bruni

Gore Vidal
“This separation was absolute in our original Republic. But the sky-godders do not give up easily. In the 1950s they actually got the phrase In God We Trust onto the currency, in direct violation of the First Amendment.”
Gore Vidal, The Decline and Fall of the American Empire

William Blackstone
“The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state: but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public: to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press: but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous, or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity.”
William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, Volume 4: A Facsimile of the First Edition of 1765-1769

“Believing this country to be a political and not a religious organisation ... the editor of the NATIONAL CITIZEN will use all her influence of voice and pen against 'Sabbath Laws', the uses of the 'Bible in School', and pre-eminently against an amendment which shall introduce 'God in the Constitution.”
Matilda Joslyn Gage

“[T]here is both an intrinsic and instrumental value to privacy. Intrinsically, privacy is precious to the extent that it is a component of a liberty. Part of citizenship in a free society is the expectation that one's personal affairs and physical person are inviolable so long as one remains within the law. A robust concept of freedom includes the freedom from constant and intrusive government surveillance of one's life. From this perspective, Fourth Amendment violations are objectionable for the simple fact that the government is doing something it has no licence to do–that is, invading the privacy of a law-abiding citizen by monitoring her daily activities and laying hands on her person without any evidence of wrongdoing.

Privacy is also instrumental in nature. This aspect of the right highlights the pernicious effects, rather than the inherent illegitimacy, of intrusive, suspicionless surveillance. For example, encroachments on individual privacy undermine democratic institutions by chilling free speech. When citizens–especially those espousing unpopular viewpoints–are aware that the intimate details of their personal lives are pervasively monitored by government, or even that they could be singled out for discriminatory treatment by government officials as a result of their First Amendment expressive activities, they are less likely to freely express their dissident views.”
John W. Whitehead, A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State

“Government in our democracy, state and national, must be neutral in matters of religious theory, doctrine, and practice. It may not be hostile to any religion or to the advocacy of no-religion; and it may not aid, foster, or promote one religion or religious theory against another or even against the militant opposite. The First Amendment mandates governmental neutrality between religion and religion, and between religion and nonreligion.

[Epperson v. Arkansas, 393 U.S. 97, 1968.]”
Abe Fortas

Angela Highland
“If the first words out of your mouth are to cry ‘political correctness!’, … chances are very, very high that you are in fact part of the problem.”
Angela Highland

Jeffrey Tayler
“Religion should be subject to commonsense appraisal and rational review, as openly discussible as, say, politics, art and the weather. The First Amendment, we should recall, forbids Congress both from establishing laws designating a state religion and from abridging freedom of speech. There is no reason why we should shy away from speaking freely about religion, no reason why it should be thought impolite to debate it, especially when, as so often happens, religious folk bring it up on their own and try to impose it on others.”
Jeffrey Tayler

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