Quotations about   first amendment

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It is true that many Americans find the Commandments in accord with their personal beliefs. But we do not count heads before enforcing the First Amendment.

Sandra Day O'Connor
Sandra Day O'Connor (b. 1930) American attorney, politician, Supreme Court justice (1981-2006)
McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union, 545 U.S. 844 (2005) [concurring]
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Declaring Ten Commandments displays in two Kentucky county courthouses to be unconstitutional.

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Added on 10-May-22 | Last updated 10-May-22
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Right conclusions are more likely to be gathered out of a multitude of tongues, than through any kind of authoritative selection. To many this is, and will always be, folly; but we have staked upon it our all.

Learned Hand (1872-1961) American jurist
United States v Associated Press, 52 F. Supp. 362, 372 (1943)
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Added on 4-Feb-22 | Last updated 4-Feb-22
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Any test that turns on what is offensive to the community’s standards is too loose, too capricious, too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don’t like, provided the matter relates to “sexual impurity” or has a tendency “to excite lustful thoughts”. This is community censorship in one of its worst forms. It creates a regime where in the battle between the literati and the Philistines, the Philistines are certain to win.

William O. Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court justice (1939-75)
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 512, dissenting opinion (1957)
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Added on 29-Jul-21 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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Thus, if the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and press is to mean anything in this field, it must allow protests even against the moral code that the standard of the day sets for the community. In other words, literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.

William O. Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court justice (1939-75)
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 513, dissenting opinion (1957)
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Added on 24-May-16 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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A free press stands as one of the great interpreters between the government and the people. To allow it to be fettered is to fetter ourselves.

George Sutherland (1862-1942) Anglo-American jurist, Supreme Court Justice (1922-1938)
Grosjean v. American Press Co., 297 U.S. 233, 250 (1936)
Added on 16-Sep-14 | Last updated 16-Sep-14
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One of the amendments to the Constitution … expressly declares that “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,” thereby guarding in the same sentence and under the same words, the freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press; insomuch that whatever violates either throws down the sanctuary which covers the others.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Kentucky Resolutions, draft (1798)

In protest of the Alien and Sedition Acts.
Added on 13-Sep-12 | Last updated 25-Apr-22
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The “establishment of religion” clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion. No person can be punished for entertaining or professing religious beliefs or disbeliefs, for church attendance or non-attendance. No tax in any amount, large or small, can be levied to support any religious activities or institutions, whatever they may be called, or whatever form they may adopt to teach or practice religion. Neither a state nor the Federal Government can, openly or secretly, participate in the affairs of any religious organizations or groups and vice versa. In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect “a wall of separation between Church and State.”

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 16-17 (1947) – majority opinion
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See Jefferson.
Added on 18-Oct-11 | Last updated 29-Dec-21
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The First Amendment has erected a wall between church and state. That wall must be kept high and impregnable. We could not approve the slightest breach.

Hugo Black (1886-1971) American politician and jurist, US Supreme Court Justice (1937-71)
Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 18 (1947) – majority opinion
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Added on 4-Oct-11 | Last updated 7-Dec-21
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Believing that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legislative powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their Legislature should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between Church and State.

Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) American political philosopher, polymath, statesman, US President (1801-09)
Letter to the Danbury Baptists (1 Jan 1802)
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Added on 3-Dec-10 | Last updated 29-Dec-21
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I would give the broad sweep of the First Amendment full support. I have the same confidence in the ability of our people to reject noxious literature as I have in their capacity to sort out the true from the false in theology, economics, or any other field.

William O. Douglas (1898-1980) US Supreme Court justice (1939-75)
Roth v. United States, 354 U.S. 476, 514, dissenting opinion (1957)
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Added on 17-Oct-05 | Last updated 29-Jul-21
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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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First as to Speech. That privilege rests upon the premise that there is no proposition so uniformly acknowledged that it may not be lawfully challenged, questioned, and debated. It need not rest upon the further premise that there are no propositions that are not open to doubt; it is enough, even if there are, that in the end it is worse to suppress dissent than to run the risk of heresy.

Learned Hand (1872-1961) American jurist
“The Guardians,” Oliver Wendell Holmes Lecture #3, Harvard University (1958)
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Speaking of the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 25-Jan-22
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[T]he price of freedom of religion or of speech or of the press is that we must put up with, and even pay for, a good deal of rubbish.

Justice Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954) US Supreme Court Justice
United States v. Ballard, 322 U.S. 78 (1944) [dissent]
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Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 20-Aug-15
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