Quotations about   Constitution

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To no man will we sell, or deny, or delay, right or justice.

[Nulli vendemus, nulli negabimus, aut differimus rectum aut justiciam.]

Other Authors and Sources
Magna Carta, Clause 40 (1215)

Alt. trans.:
  • "To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice."
  • "To none will we sell, to none will we deny, to none will we delay right or justice."
Added on 7-Jul-17 | Last updated 7-Jul-17
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Heroism, the Caucasian mountaineers say, is endurance for one moment more.

George Kennan (1845-1924) American explorer, journalist, activist, lecturer
Letter to Henry Munroe Rogers (25 Jul 1921)
Added on 28-Dec-16 | Last updated 28-Dec-16
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In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the “unalienable Rights” of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968) American clergyman, civil rights leader, orator
“I Have a Dream,” speech, Washington, DC (28 Aug 1963)
Added on 7-Jul-16 | Last updated 7-Jul-16
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My view was that every executive officer, and above all every executive officer in high position, was a steward of the people bound actively and affirmatively to do all he could for the people, and not to content himself with the negative merit of keeping his talents undamaged in a napkin. I declined to adopt the view that what was imperatively necessary for the Nation could not be done by the President unless he could find some specific authorization to do it. My belief was that it was not only his right but his duty to do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws. Under this interpretation of executive power I did and caused to be done many things not previously done by the President and the heads of the departments. I did not usurp power, but I did greatly broaden the use of executive power. In other words, I acted for the public welfare, I acted for the common well-being of all our people, whenever and in whatever manner was necessary, unless prevented by direct constitutional or legislative prohibition.

Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) US President (1901-1909)
Theodore Roosevelt, An Autobiography, ch. 10 (1926)
Added on 13-Jun-16 | Last updated 13-Jun-16
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Every defendant is entitled to a trial in which his interests are vigorously and conscientiously advocated by an able lawyer. A proceeding in which the defendant does not receive meaningful assistance in meeting the forces of the state does not, in my opinion, constitute due process.

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1967-1991)
Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984) [Dissenting]
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Added on 22-Oct-15 | Last updated 22-Oct-15
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The American states have gone far in assisting the progress of truth; but they have stopped short of perfection. They ought to have given every honest citizen an equal right to enjoy his religion and an equal title to all civil emoluments, without obliging him to tell his religion. Every interference of the civil power in regulating opinion, is an impious attempt to take the business of the Deity out of his own hands; and every preference given to any religious denomination, is so far slavery and bigotry.

Noah Webster, Jr. (1758-1843) American lexicographer and author
Sketches of American Policy (1785)
Added on 7-May-15 | Last updated 7-May-15
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The Bill of Rights was designed trustfully to prohibit forever two of the favorite crimes of all known governments: the seizure of private property without adequate compensation and the invasion of the citizen’s liberty without justifiable cause and due process.

H.L. Mencken (1880-1956) American writer and journalist [Henry Lewis Mencken]
“On Government,” Prejudices: Fourth Series (1924)
Added on 12-Feb-15 | Last updated 2-May-16
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A bill of rights is what the people are entitled to against every government on earth, general or particular, and what no just government should refuse, or rest on inference.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to James Madison (20 Dec 1787)
Added on 20-Jan-15 | Last updated 20-Jan-15
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The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.

James Madison (1751-1836) American statesman, political theorist, US President (1809-17)
The Federalist #57 (19 Feb 1788)
Added on 15-Dec-14 | Last updated 15-Dec-14
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Stare decisis is usually the wise policy, because in most matters it is more important that the applicable rule of law be settled than that it be settled right. … This is commonly true even where the error is a matter of serious concern, provided correction can be had by legislation. But in cases involving the Federal Constitution, where correction through legislative action is practically impossible, this court has often overruled its earlier decisions. The court bows to the lessons of experience and the force of better reasoning, recognizing that the process of trial and error, so fruitful in the physical sciences, is appropriate also in the judicial function.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Burnet v. Coronado Oil & Gas Co., 285 U.S. 393 (1932) [dissent]
Added on 11-Nov-14 | Last updated 11-Nov-14
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The doctrine of the Declaration of Independence predicated upon the glory of man and the corresponding duty to society that the rights of citizens ought to be protected with every power and resource of the state, and a government that does any less is false to the teachings of that great document — false to the name American.

Calvin Coolidge (1872-1933) American lawyer, politician, US President (1925-29)
Equal Rights (1920)
Added on 24-Sep-14 | Last updated 24-Sep-14
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If the provisions of the Constitution be not upheld when they pinch as well as when they comfort, they may as well be abandoned.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell, 290 U.S. 398, 483 (1934)
Added on 2-Sep-14 | Last updated 7-Feb-17
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Do the people of this land — in the providence of God, favored, as they sometimes boast, above all others in the plenitude of their liberties — desire to preserve those so carefully protected by the First Amendment: liberty of religious worship, freedom of speech and of the press, and the right as freemen peaceably to assemble and petition their government for a redress of grievances? If so, let them withstand all beginnings of encroachment. For the saddest epitaph which can be carved in memory of a vanished liberty is that it was lost because its possessors failed to stretch forth a saving hand while yet there was time.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Associated Press v. National Labor Relations Board, 301 U.S. 141 (1938) [Dissent]
Added on 30-May-13 | Last updated 19-Jul-14
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Our new Constitution is now established, and has an appearance that promises permanency, but in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.

Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) American statesman, scientist, philosopher
Letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy (13 Nov 1789)

See Bullock.
Added on 3-May-13 | Last updated 18-Apr-16
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The makers of our Constitution undertook to secure conditions favorable to the pursuit of happiness. They recognized the significance of man’s spiritual nature, of his feelings and of his intellect. They knew that only a part of the pain, pleasure and satisfactions of life are to be found in material things. They sought to protect Americans in their beliefs, their thoughts, their emotions and their sensations. They conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone — the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.

Louis Brandeis (1856-1941) American lawyer, activist, Supreme Court Justice (1916-39)
Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928) [Dissent]
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Added on 13-Jun-11 | Last updated 16-Jun-14
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The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust.

James Madison (1751-1836) American statesman, political theorist, US President (1809-17)
The Federalist #57 “The Alleged Tendency of the New Plan to Elevate the Few at the Expense of the Many” (19 Feb 1788)
Added on 20-Apr-09 | Last updated 7-Aug-14
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A government of laws, and not of men.

John Adams (1735-1826) American lawyer, Founding Father, statesman, US President (1797-1801)
“Novanglus” #7, Boston Gazette (6 Mar 1775)

Adams credited the line to James Harrington (1611-77), who wrote of "the empire of laws and not of men" (The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656)). Adams later used the term in the Massachusetts Constitution, Bill of Rights, article 30 (1780).
Added on 20-Jan-09 | Last updated 10-Jul-16
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It is contended by many that ours is a Christian government, founded upon the Bible, and that all who look upon the book as false or foolish are destroying the foundation of our country. The truth is, our government is not founded upon the rights of gods, but upon the rights of men. Our Constitution was framed, not to declare and uphold the deity of Christ, but the sacredness of humanity. Ours is the first government made by the people and for the people. It is the only nation with which the gods have had nothing to do. And yet there are some judges dishonest and cowardly enough to solemnly decide that this is a Christian country, and that our free institutions are based upon the infamous laws of Jehovah.

Robert Green Ingersoll (1833-1899) American lawyer, agnostic, orator
“Individuality” (1873)
Added on 11-Aug-06 | Last updated 2-Feb-16
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If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a State has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch.

Thurgood Marshall (1908-1993) American lawyer, US Supreme Court Justice (1967-1991)
Stanley v. Georgia 394 U.S. 557 (1969) [Unanimous Opinion]
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 14-Jun-16
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The First Amendment is often inconvenient. But that is beside the point. Inconvenience does not absolve the government of its obligation to tolerate speech.

Anthony Kennedy (b. 1936) US Supreme Court Justice
International Society for Krishna Consciousness v. Lee, 505 U.S. 672 (26 Jun 1992) [concurring[
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Jul-14
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