Quotations about   checks and balances

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No honest, clear-headed man, however great a lover of popular government, can deny that the unbridled expression of the majority of a community converted hastily into law or action would sometimes make a government tyrannical and cruel. Constitutions are checks upon the hasty action of the majority. They are the self-imposed restraints of a whole people upon a majority of them to secure sober action and a respect for the rights of the minority.

William Howard Taft (1857-1930) US President (1909-13) and Chief Justice (1921-1930)
Veto Statement for the Arizona Enabling Act (15 Aug 1911)
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Taft vetoed the admission of Arizona to the US with a state constitution that allowed popular recall of judges.
Added on 30-Mar-20 | Last updated 30-Mar-20
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The people — the people — are the rightful masters of both Congresses, and courts — not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert it.

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) American lawyer, politician, US President (1861-65)
Speech, Cooper Union, New York City (27 Feb 1860)
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On preventing the spread of slavery to new states and territories. Sometimes paraphrased, "We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution but to overthrow the men who would pervert the Constitution."
Added on 23-Apr-19 | Last updated 23-Apr-19
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A right should not be absolute for the same reason that a power should not be absolute.

R. H. Tawney (1880-1962) English writer, economist, historian, social critic [Richard Henry Tawney]
The Acquisitive Century, ch. 4 “The Nemesis of Industrialism” (1920)
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See Lord Acton.
Added on 9-Feb-17 | Last updated 9-Feb-17
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Our Passions, Ambition, Avarice, Love, Resentment &c possess so much metaphysical Subtilty and so much overpowering Eloquence, that they insinuate themselves into the Understanding and the Conscience and convert both to their Party. And I may be deceived as much as any of them, when I Say, that Power must never be trusted without a Check.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Letter to Thomas Jefferson (2 Feb 1816)
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Added on 3-Aug-16 | Last updated 3-Aug-16
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The intoxication of power rapidly sobers off in the knowledge of its restrictions and under the prompt reminder of an ever-present and not always considerate press, as well as the kindly suggestions that not infrequently come from Congress.

William Howard Taft (1857-1930) US President (1909-13) and Chief Justice (1921-1930)
Speech, Lotus Club (16 Nov 1912)
Added on 20-Jul-15 | Last updated 20-Jul-15
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Nip the shoots of arbitrary power in the bud, is the only maxim which can ever preserve the liberties of any people.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
“Novanglus” #3, Boston Gazette (1774)
Added on 10-Jul-08 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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There is danger from all men. The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with power to endanger the public liberty.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
Journal, notes for an oration at Braintree (Spring 1772)
Added on 30-Jun-08 | Last updated 29-Mar-17
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