Government Quotes

  1. If government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Justice Brandeis 1928 Olmstead v. U.S.
  2. Society wins not only when the guilty are convicted, but when criminal trials are fair. Justice William O. Douglas
  3. In a democratic society, legislatures, not courts, are constituted to respond to the will and consequently the moral values of the people. Chief Justice Warren Burger 1972 Furman v. Georga
  4. A society that will trade a little liberty for a little order will lose both and deserve neither. Thomas Jefferson
  5. Whoever would overthrow liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech. Ben Franklin
  6. Freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are means indispensable to the discovery and spread of truth. Justice Brandies
  7. Our nation… has thrived on the principle that, outside of areas of plainly harmful conduct, every American is left to shape his own life as he thinks best, do what he pleased, go where he pleases. Justice William O. Douglas 1958
  8. (We… regard) him who takes no part in these duties not as unambitious but as useless. Pericles 5th century referring to Athenians.
  9. Give all the power to the many, they will oppress the few. Give all the power to the few and they will oppress the many. Alexander Hamilton 1787
  10. There are two passions that have a powerful influence on the affairs of man. These are ambition and avarice; the love of power and the love of money. Ben Franklin
  11. From the nature of men, we may be sure that those who have power in their hands will always when they can… increase it. George Mason 1787
  12. What is government itself but the greatest of all reflections of human nature? If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If Angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on men would be necessary. In framing a government, which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: You must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place, oblige it to control itself. A dependence on the people is, no doubt, the primary control on the government but experience has taught mankind the necessity of auxiliary precautions. James Madison Federalist 51
  13. The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil was for good men to do nothing. Edmund Burke British statesman
  14. The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground. Thomas Jefferson
  15. I may disapprove of what you say, but will defend to the death your right to say it. Voltare
  16. … in a constitutional government, those who posses arms are the citizens. Aristotle
  17. A mans house is his castle. Sir Edward Cooke British Jurist
  18. You have rights antecedent to all earthly government, right that cannot be repealed…by human law. John Adams
  19. Proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants there of. Inscription on the Liberty Bell
  20. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
  21. Were all in this together, there’s no them and us in America. Just us.
  22. Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what you can do for your country. JFK
  23. Free thought and speech are the matrix, the indispensable condition of nearly every other from of freedom. Justice Cardozo
  24. Searches with nonspecific warrants was the single immediate cause of the American Revolution. Justice William Brennan referring to the 4th Amendment
  25. James Madison referred to the 5th Amendment as “securities of liberty” which would guard against “the body of the people operating by the majority against the minority”
  26. The fifth is a lone sure rock in time of storm… a symbol of the ultimate moral sense of the community… Erwin Griswold Dean of the Harvard Law School
  27. Why do we love this trial by jury? It prevents the hand of oppression from cutting yours off
  28. The calculated killing of a human being by the State involved a denial of the executed person’s humanity. Justice Brennan
  29. An unjust law is no law at all. St. Augustine
  30. Liberty means responsibility. That is why most men dread it. George Bernard Shaw
  31. “To disarm the people is the best and most effectual way to enslave them. “—George Mason
  32. “When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”—Thomas Jefferson
  33. “The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.”—Thomas Jefferson
  34. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payer. You cannot further the brotherhood of many by encouraging class hatred. You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn. You cannot build character and courage by taking away man’s initiative and independence. You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves.”—Abraham Lincoln
  35. “Those who would give up Essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”—Benjamin Franklin 11 November 1755
  36. “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are a gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”—Thomas Jefferson, inscription on the Jefferson Memorial
  37. “God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it.”—Senator Daniel Webster 3 June 1834
  38. “Our ancestors established their system of government on morality and religious sentiment. Moral habits, they believed, cannot safely be entrusted on any other foundation than religious principle, not any government secure which is not supported by moral habits.... Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens.”—Daniel Webster
  39. “Hold on, my friends, to the Constitution and to the Republic for which it stands. Miracles do not cluster and what has happened once in 6,000 years, may not happen again. Hold on to the Constitution, for if the American Constitution should fail, there will be anarchy throughout the world.”—Daniel Webster, 1851
  40. “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”—Thomas Jefferson
  41. “Good government generally begins in the family, and if the moral character of a people once degenerate, their political character must soon follow.”—Elias Boudinot, president of the Continental Congress, later a congressman from NJ, and president of the American Bible Society
  42. “No one is bound to obey an unconstitutional law and no courts are bound to enforce it.”—Sixteenth American Jurisprudence, Second Edition, Section 177
  43. “When they took the sixth amendment, I was quiet because I was innocent.”
    ”When they took the fourth amendment, I was quiet because I didn’t deal drugs.”
    ”When they took the second amendment, I was quiet because I didn’t own a gun.”
    ”Now they’ve taken the first amendment, and I can say nothing about it.”