Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941)

“Our government teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.”

“America has believed that in differentiation, not in uniformity, lies the path of progress. It acted on this belief; it has advanced human happiness, and it has prospered.”

“Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence.”

“I abhor averages. I like the individual case. A man may have six meals one day and none the next, making an average of three meals per day, but that is not a good way to live.”

“Fear of serious injury alone cannot justify oppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears.”

“Organization can never be a substitute for initiative and for judgment.”

“Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.”

“In the frank expression of conflicting opinions lies the greatest promise of wisdom in governmental action.”

“The logic of words should yield to the logic of realities.”

“There are no shortcuts in evolution.”

“To declare that in the administration of criminal law the end justifies the means to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure conviction of a private criminal would bring terrible retribution.”

“The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding.”

“We can have democracy in this country, or we can have great wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

“If we desire respect for the law, we must first make the law respectable.”

“If we would guide by the light of reason we must let our minds be bold.”

“Experience teaches us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.”

“Those who won our independence… valued liberty as an end and as a means. They believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.”

“The right to be alone / the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized man.”

“The most important political office is that of the private citizen.”

“Men long for an afterlife in which there apparently is nothing to do but delight in heaven’s wonders.”

“Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficent. Men born to freedom are naturally alert to repel invasion of their liberty by evil minded rulers. The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal well meaning but without understanding.”

“[The phrase] right to privacy … deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law.”

“If you would only recognize that life is hard, things would be so much easier for you.”

“We are not won by arguments that we can analyze, but by tone and temper; by the manner, which is the man himself.”

“The world presents enough problems if you believe it to be a world of law and order; do not add to them by believing it to be a world of miracles.”

 

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