Constitutional Law Quotes

Quotes tagged as "constitutional-law" (showing 1-30 of 32)
Thomas Jefferson
“In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the constitution.”
Thomas Jefferson

Robert Bolt
“William Roper: “So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!”

Sir Thomas More: “Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?”

William Roper: “Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!”

Sir Thomas More: “Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!”
Robert Bolt, A Man for All Seasons

“Liberty is not something a government gives you. It is a right that no government can legally take away.”
A.E. Samaan

“The U.S. didn't achieve its liberty or prosperity by mistake. It was by design, and the architects were the Founding Fathers. Don't mess with the Constitution. The Constitution matters.”
A.E. Samaan

“The particular aspect of history which both attracts and benefits its readers is the examination of causes and the capacity, which is the reward of this study, to decide in each case the best policy to follow. Now in all political situations we must understand that the principle factor which makes for success or failure is the form of a state's constitution: it is from this source, as if from a fountainhead, that all designs and plans of action not only originate but reach their fulfillment.”
Polybius, The Rise of the Roman Empire

“Nowhere in the Bill of Rights are the words "unless inconvenient" to be found.”
A.E. Samaan

Kenneth Eade
“The Patriot Act has practically obliterated the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. It was supposed to be temporary, but there are so many things that the Government likes about the power that it gives, they keep renewing it.”
Kenneth Eade, A Patriot's Act

“History could not be any clearer: Rights given by fad and fashion are just as easily taken away. The Constitution matters.”
A.E. Samaan

“The bad parts of the statute are not judicially severable, I consider, from the rest of its provisions that deal with imprisonment. Their roots are entangled too tenaciously in the surrounding soil for a clean extraction to be feasible. The conclusion to which I accordingly come is that we are left with no option but to declare those provisions as a whole to be constitutionally invalid on account of their objectionable overbreadth.”
John Didcott

“If the good is not dependent on the bad and can be separated from it, one gives effect to the good that remains after the separation if it still gives effect to the main objective.”
Johann Kriegler

“The fundamental idea is that through the separation of powers and checks and balances, different voices—those of the President, the Senate, and the House of Representatives—can be expected to contribute to public debate about the ends and means of national policy. The notions are familiar: the President speaks as the nationally elected voice of the people generally; the Senate represents the states; and the House represents particular constituencies that often have highly local concerns. More generally, the President speaks for the nation, and members of Congress—while being concerned with matters of national import—speak especially for different constituent parts of the nation. This constitutional structure guarantees that diverse perspectives will contribute to dialogue about public policy.”
Thomas O. Sargentich, The Limits of the Parliamentary Critique of the Separation of Powers

“We have rule of lawyers, not rule of law. The legal profession has a monopoly over one branch of government as it was never intended to. The American Bar Association owns an entire branch of our government. We should not be surprised that we are the most litigious society in the world. It is big business with a stranglehold on one of the three branches of government.”
A.E. Samaan

“It is a fundamental principle of American democracy that laws should not be public only when it is convenient for government officials to make them public. They should be public all the time, open to review by adversarial courts, and subject to change by an accountable legislature guided by an informed public. If Americans are not able to learn how their government is interpreting and executing the law then we have effectively eliminated the most important bulwark of our democracy. That’s why, even at the height of the Cold War, when the argument for absolute secrecy was at its zenith, Congress chose to make US surveillance laws public. Without public laws, and public court rulings interpreting those laws, it is impossible to have informed public debate. And when the American people are in the dark, they can’t make fully informed decisions about who should represent them, or protest policies that they disagree with. These are fundamentals. It’s Civics 101. And secret law violates those basic principles. It has no place in America.”
Ron Wyden

“Progressives did not like the antiquated thinking that saw the Constitution as a barrier to government expansion. The "living Constitution" was born. That benign-sounding phrase (coined later) was conjured up to justify changing the Constitution, without formal amendment, from a limit on power to a blank check. What was impermissible to the federal government by an earlier interpretation became permissible once the Constitution was construed as a evolving document. But by that philosophy, the Constitution is no limit on government power at all. A constitutional government that defines its own powers is a contradiction in terms.”
Sheldon Richman, Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax

William Howard Taft
“We have a government of limited power under the Constitution, and we have got to work out our problems on the basis of law.”
William Howard Taft

W. Kristjan Arnold
“Civilized existence is one which respects the law, both wise and good laws as well as bad laws, whose constitutional basis is the will of the people. When one does not like a particular law, the remedy resides in modifying it or revoking it by the procedures established for that very purpose. That methodology is the sole means of guaranteeing that popular will cannot be seized and held captive by zealots, with their own extreme interpretations.
-- Torcuato Fernández-Miranda”
W. Kristjan Arnold, The Reign in Spain: Fall & Rise of the Spanish Monarchy

Albie Sachs
“Severability is an important concept in the context of the relations between this Court and Parliament; like 'reading down', it is an instrument of judicial restraint which reduces the danger of producing an overbroad judicial reaction to overbroad legislation.”
Albie Sachs

“The United States has experienced more than two centuries of political stability. When viewed against the background of world history, this is remarkable. The First Amendment has played a singularly important role. When citizens can openly criticize their government, changes come about through orderly political processes. When grievances exist, they must be aired, if not through the channels of public debate, then by riots in the streets. The First Amendment functions as a safety valve through which the pressures and frustrations of a heterogeneous society can be ventilated and defused.”
Jacqueline R. Kanovitz, Constitutional Law for Criminal Justice

“Our United States "State religion" has become Secular Humanism which has no "separation from the State.”
James C. Campbell

Finley Peter Dunne
“Look it over some time. 'T is fine spoort if ye don't care f r checkers. Some say it laves th' flag up in th' air an' some say that's where it laves th' constitution. Annyhow, something'» in th' air. But there's wan thing I 'm sure about."
" What's that ?" asked Mr. Hennessy.
" That is," said Mr. Dooley, " no matther whether th' constitution follows th' flag or not, th' supreme coort follows th' iliction returns.”
Finley Peter Dunne, Mr. Dooley's Opinions

Barack Obama
“For in the end laws are just words on a page - words that are sometimes malleable, opaque, as dependent on context and trust as they are in a story or poem or promise to someone, words whose meanings are subject to erosion, sometimes collapsing in the blink of an eye.”
Barack Obama, The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream

“Our Supreme Court is not a court of law. It is a court of conjecture and political fad.”
A.E. Samaan

“In turning now to the principle of dialogue underlying the Constitution's structure, it is important first to note a basic distinction. The Constitution's structural theory rests on two closely related but nevertheless separate principles: separation of powers and checks and balances. The first principle requires that the branches of government be identifiably discrete. The second assumes that the branches are separate and then concentrates on promoting the checking of each by the others. The task of separation summons forth a "formalist" analysis; it requires formal definitions of some sort to provide the baseline for analysis. The task of checking and balancing is most closely associated with a "functionalist" approach; it requires an awareness of the need to balance the roles and functions of different institutions in determining their appropriate relations.”
Thomas O. Sargentich, The Limits of the Parliamentary Critique of the Separation of Powers

“Attempting to resolve questions of interpretation by deferring to the intentions of the Framers of the Constitution leads to several practical and philosophical difficulties. First, the Fourteenth Amendment, for example, was not written by one person but was arrived at through a process of debate, politicking, and compromise. It may be that the various participants in that process had different intentions about what the amendment should mean and how it should be implemented; those intentions may even have been contradictory. Moreover, some would argue that even if the Constitution had one author with one coherent intention as to its meaning and future implementation, that intention could never be completely accessible to judges, or even historians, two centuries later. Finally, assuming for the sake of argument that the Constitutions; Framers did have a unitary, discoverable intention as to how it should be implemented in a particular case, it is not clear that that intention should necessarily govern constitutional interpretation in the late twentieth century, a profoundly different time and society from that of the Framers. The Constitution endures because it is a vehicle for the most central values of American society; but those values necessarily evolve as society changes.”
Morton J. Horwitz

“Furthermore, the managerial ethos of parliamentary reformism is in direct tension with important values associated with the dialogue that attends our system of checks and balances. The term "parliamentary reform" should not be allowed to cloud the fact that the critics advance a highly pro-executive position that would seek a strong government primarily by undercutting the independence of Congress.”
Thomas O. Sargentich, The Limits of the Parliamentary Critique of the Separation of Powers

James Madison
“In framing a system which we wish to last for ages, we shd. not lose sight of the changes which ages will produce. [James Madison in the U.S. Constitutional Convention, June 26, 1787. The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), 1:422.]”
James Madison

Samuel Rutherford
“Arbitrary governing hath no alliance with God.”
Samuel Rutherford, Lex, Rex, or the Law and the Prince: A Dispute for the Just Prerogative of King and People

Michael Parenti
“It has long been presumed that the diversity of constitutional forms makes for an optimal result. In reality, it creates a system of impediments that makes popular reform nearly impossible.
As with Polybius and Cicero, so with Aristotle, and so with the framers of the United States Constitution in 1787 . . .—all have been mindful of the leveling threats of democratic forces and the need for a constitutional “mix” that allows only limited participation by the demos, with a dominant role allotted to an elite executive power. . . . Diluting democratic power with a preponderantly undemocratic mix does not create an admirable “balance” and “stability.” In actual practice, the diversity of form more often has been a subterfuge, allowing an appearance of popular participation in order to lend legitimacy to oligarchic dominance.”
Michael Parenti, The Assassination of Julius Caesar: A People's History of Ancient Rome

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