Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote

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Quote list[edit]

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/1

Warren E. Burger, Chief Justice of the United States
Prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and least tolerable infringement on First Amendment Rights.
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William J. Brennan, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
We are required in this case to determine for the first time the extent to which the constitutional protections for speech and press limit a State's power to award damages in a libel action brought by a public official against critics of his official conduct.
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William Rehnquist, Chief Justice of the United States
We conclude that public figures and public officials may not recover for the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress by reason of publications such as the one here at issue without showing, in addition, that the publication contains a false statement of fact which was made with 'actual malice,' i.e., with knowledge that the statement was false or with reckless disregard as to whether or not it was true. This is not merely a 'blind application' of the New York Times standard, see Time, Inc. v. Hill, 385 U.S. 374, 390 (1967); it reflects our considered judgment that such a standard is necessary to give adequate "breathing space" to the freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
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John Marshall Harlan II
The dissemination of the individual's opinions on matters of public interest is for us, in the historic words of the Declaration of Independence, an 'unalienable right' that 'governments are instituted among men to secure.' History shows us that the Founders were not always convinced that unlimited discussion of public issues would be 'for the benefit of all of us' but that they firmly adhered to the proposition that the 'true liberty of the press' permitted 'every man to publish his opinion'.
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Hugo Black
I think the conviction of appellant or anyone else for exhibiting a motion picture abridges freedom of the press as safeguarded by the First Amendment, which is made obligatory on the States by the Fourteenth.
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William O. Douglas
The censor is always quick to justify his function in terms that are protective of society. But the First Amendment, written in terms that are absolute, deprives the States of any power to pass on the value, the propriety, or the morality of a particular expression.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/7

Earl Warren
That there is a social problem presented by obscenity is attested by the expression of the legislatures of the forty-eight States, as well as the Congress. To recognize the existence of a problem, however, does not require that we sustain any and all measures adopted to meet that problem. The history of the application of laws designed to suppress the obscene demonstrates convincingly that the power of government can be invoked under them against great art or literature, scientific treatises, or works exciting social controversy. Mistakes of the past prove that there is a strong countervailing interest to be considered in the freedoms guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
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Thurgood Marshall
Whatever may be the justifications for other statutes regulating obscenity, we do not think they reach into the privacy of one's own home. 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. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men's minds.
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Potter Stewart
... I would not in this case decide, even by way of dicta, that the Government may lawfully seize literary material intended for the purely private use of the importer. The terms of the statute appear to apply to an American tourist who, after exercising his constitutionally protected liberty to travel abroad, returns home with a single book in his luggage, with no intention of selling it or otherwise using it, except to read it. If the Government can constitutionally take the book away from him as he passes through customs, then I do not understand the meaning of Stanley v. Georgia.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/10

Floyd Abrams
I had never before argued a Supreme Court case on my own. Since arguments in that court are thirty minutes in length per side, and since most of the time consumed in argument is taken up with responses to questions of the Court, Dean [Ringel] and I devoted most of our preparation to three overlapping issues, ones that have consumed my attention in every later Supreme Court argument as well. The first was jurisprudential in nature. What rule of law were we urging the Court to adopt? How would it apply in any future case? What would be its impact on First Amendment legal doctrine?
Floyd Abrams, Speaking Freely (2005), p. 65, discussing his argument before the Court in Landmark Communications v. Virginia.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/11

Bertrand Russell
In the United States at the present day, the reverence which the Greeks gave to the oracles and the Middle Ages to the Pope is given to the Supreme Court. Those who have studied the working of the American Constitution know that the Supreme Court is part of the forces engaged in the protection of the plutocracy. But of the men who know this, some are on the side of the plutocracy, and therefore do nothing to weaken the traditional reverence for the Supreme court, while others are discredited in the eyes of the ordinary quiet citizens by being said to be subversive and Bolshevik.
Bertrand Russell, Power (1937, reprinted Routledge Classics, 2004), p. 53.
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Robert H. Jackson
Civil liberties had their origin and must find their ultimate guaranty in the faith of the people. If that faith should be lost, five or nine men in Washington could not long supply its want.
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George W. Bush
When a President chooses a Supreme Court justice he is placing in human hands the full authority and majesty of the law.
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Of the many responsibilities accorded to a President by our Constitution, few are more weighty or consequential than that of appointing a Supreme Court Justice.
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Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Dissents speak to a future age. It's not simply to say, 'My colleagues are wrong and I would do it this way.' But the greatest dissents do become court opinions and gradually over time their views become the dominant view. So that's the dissenter's hope: that they are writing not for today but for tomorrow.
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Elena Kagan
My politics would be, must be, have to be, completely separate from my judgment.
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Sandra Day O'Connor
It is difficult to discern a serious threat to religious liberty from a room of silent, thoughtful schoolchildren.
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Clarence Thomas
As for the matter of my judicial philosophy, I didn't have one—and didn't want one. A philosophy that is imposed from without instead of arising organically from day-to-day engagement with the law isn't worth having. Such a philosophy runs the risk of becoming an ideology, and I'd spent much of my adult life shying away from abstract ideological theories that served only to obscure the reality of life as it's lived.
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Sonia Sotomayor
I strive never to forget the real world consequences of my decisions on individuals, businesses and government.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/20

John G. Roberts
The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.
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Laura Richardson
The story of Justice O'Connor's ascent to the United States Supreme Court is an inspirational one that reaffirms the power of hard work, determination, and fidelity to core values. Her service on the Court helped make our country better and fairer. Most importantly, through her successful career, she paved the way for female leaders throughout the arena of public service.
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Anna Eshoo
Our founders vested the Supreme Court with the judicial power of our nation, and gave it the charge to dispense justice. Since 1935, visitors have climbed the marble steps of the Supreme Court and entered the nation's temple of justice through its main entrance, under the words 'Equal Justice Under Law.' Chief Justice John Roberts, during his confirmation hearing, described the 'lump in his throat' that formed every time he walked up those marble steps and through that main entrance.
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Bob Goodlatte
The Supreme Court is charged with making final pronouncements about our Constitution, which is uniquely American. Each of our nation's judges, as well as Supreme Court justices, took an oath to defend and uphold the U.S. Constitution--and it is time that Congress reminds these unelected officials of their sworn duties. ... I believe the judicial branch is guaranteed a very high level of independence when it operates within the boundaries of the U.S. Constitution. However, when judges and justices begin to operate outside of those boundaries, Congress must respond. We must be steadfast guardians of the freedoms that are protected in the Constitution of the United States of America.
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Ron Paul
The United States Constitution gives Congress the authority to establish and limit the jurisdiction of the lower Federal courts and limit the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. The Founders intended Congress to use this authority to correct abuses of power by the Federal judiciary.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/25

Allen Boyd
I want to voice my support for the landmark Supreme Court decision to overturn the District of Columbia handgun ban. This was a long and hard-fought battle, one in which I signaled my support for the rights of gun owners by joining many of my colleagues in signing an amicus brief supporting gun rights. In the end, the Court's decision affirmed that all citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/26

Charles B. Rangel
Thurgood Marshall was one of the America's most important leaders of the civil rights revolution and architects of affirmative action. Being born as a grandson of a slave in Baltimore, MD, Marshall grew to become the Nation's first African-American Supreme Court justice and a recognized fighter for equal rights and integration.
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Rahm Emanuel
Dr. King embodied the spirit of the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. ... The 1956 Supreme Court decision declaring Alabama's segregation laws unconstitutional was one early victory in his fight for equality and justice. This victory had a tremendous personal cost for Dr. King, as he was arrested, threatened, and his house was bombed.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/28

Sheila Jackson-Lee
As we know, during the 1850s, slavery became an especially heated issue in the United States. In 1850, Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, which allowed runaway slaves to be arrested and jailed without a jury trial, and in 1857, the Supreme Court ruled in the Dred Scott case that those enslaved had no rights as citizens and that the government could not outlaw slavery in the new territories.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/29

Steve Buyer
I applaud the March 6 Supreme Court Decision in favor of the Solomon Amendment. This decision brings resolution to a period of time in which students seeking military careers have been denied equal access to their career of choice due to the political climates and cultures of the institutions in which they receive their education. My commendation goes to the United States Supreme Court's prudent action in siding with Congress to uphold this vital legislation. Even in this time of great sacrifice when our men and women in uniform are engaged in defeating the forces of tyranny and terror, some have neither masked nor disguised their loathing of the American military. A blatant disregard and violation of the basic principles of free speech and right to association has been demonstrated by these institutions. I feel it pertinent to add that Congress never asked for anything other than equal access for military recruiters. We simply ask the same access as that given to any other employer.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/30

Richard W. Pombo
Chief Justice Rehnquist was first confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 as the new Associate Justice replacing Justice John Marshall Harlan. He then served as Associate Justice until 1986 when President Reagan nominated and the Senate confirmed him as the new Chief Justice to replace Chief Justice Warren Burger. Mr. Rehnquist presided as Chief Justice from September 1986 until September 2005 for a total of 19 years, making him the fourth-longest-serving Chief Justice in the history of the Court.
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Eric Cantor
The principal founder of American constitutional law and one of Virginia's finest sons, Marshall's 34 years of leadership brought the United States Supreme Court great prominence. His education, experiences, and service to the Commonwealth of Virginia enabled him to serve this country as Supreme Court Justice. Chief Justice Marshall presided over numerous landmark cases and authored many of the Supreme Court's most influential opinions. Under his guidance, the Supreme Court from 1801 to 1835 expanded the definition of commerce, solidified the Supreme Court's dominance over the State court system, and defended the Federal Government's implied power. These contributions and many others came after the first, and arguably most important, opinion he penned--judicial review. Shortly after his ascension to the bench, Chief Justice John Marshall affirmed the ability of the Supreme Court as the only body to decide the constitutionality of Federal or State law under the United States Constitution.
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Ralph Nader
Today it is more important than ever for all Supreme Court Justices and, in particular, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to have the inclination and wisdom to realize that our democracy is being eroded by many kinds of widely reported systemic corporate excesses. Giant multinational corporations have no allegiance to any country or community, and the devastation and other injustices they visit upon communities throughout the United States and around the globe have outpaced the countervailing restraints that should be the hallmark of government by, for and of the people.
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Louise McIntosh Slaughter
I rise today to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision in Griswold v. Connecticut. This decision served as the foundation for improvements in women's reproductive health, felt even to this day. It is difficult to believe that just 40 years ago, it was actually illegal for American women to use birth control. But as late as 1965, 30 states still had laws prohibiting or restricting the sale and use of contraception. ... Griswold v. Connecticut paved the way for future decisions regarding a women's right to reproductive health and privacy--including the 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision that extended the right to access contraception to unmarried women.
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Nancy Pelosi
On May 30, 1942, Fred Korematsu was jailed for evading authorities. He was sent to Topaz Internment Camp in Utah for 2 years. He bravely filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, and took his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Supreme Court, however, unjustly declared that the internment of Japanese Americans was necessary in a time of war and that allegations of racism by the government were unfounded. Mr. Korematsu, though, did not give up, and, 40 years later, he was vindicated in a ruling by the Federal District Court in San Francisco.
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John Conyers
The fearless acts of civil disobedience displayed by Rosa Parks and others resulted in the United States Supreme Court, on November 13, 1956, affirming a district court decision that held that Montgomery segregation codes deny and deprive African Americans of the equal protection of the laws. This decision would lead to other landmark Supreme Court decisions in which the Court would rule in the interest of justice and equality.
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William Lacy Clay, Jr.
May 17, 2004 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark 'Brown v. Topeka Board of Education' decision ordering the desegregation of U.S. schools. This court ruling effectively denied the legal basis for segregation in Kansas and 20 other States with segregated schools and forever changed race relations in the United States. Brown v. Board laid the precedent for ending all segregation. Very few Supreme Court decisions have impacted our nation's history as much as Brown v. Board. ... Since the Supreme Court overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and declared an end to legal segregation, this country has made great progress, especially in the area of racial relations, but there is more work to be done. In order for us to continue to make this country a better place in which to live, we must remember the past.
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Hilda L. Solis
I rise to applaud the Supreme Court's decision to uphold affirmative action. The Court's ruling this week was a tremendous victory for all those who believe that diversity is one of our nation's greatest strengths. The historical significance of this important ruling cannot be underestimated. For millions of minority students--Latino, African-American, Native American--it means the opportunity at a better education, higher wages, and a promising future.
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Ronnie Shows
I rise today to offer my praise to President Bush for declaring that the Second Amendment protects an individual's right to possess a firearm and is not tied to the maintenance of state militias. On Monday, Solicitor General Theodore Olsen made the Bush Administration's position clear when he filed briefs in the Supreme Court on two cases that are under review. In short, it is the Administration's position that the Second Amendment grants an individual the right to keep and bear arms. I am pleased that the Bush Administration has recognized that the Constitution protects individual rights to keep and bear arms. But we must always remain vigilant against efforts to strip us of our rights.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/39

Diana DeEgette
In 1962, President John F. Kennedy appointed White to the Supreme Court of the United States. The new justice joined the Court just as it neared the height of its liberal and activist period. White quickly evolved into a conservative jurist with a strong independent streak, dissenting from many of the court's liberal rulings of the 1960's. Yet he was a strong proponent of civil rights for racial minorities. In 1961, White served to protect the 'Freedom Riders', the young civil-rights activists trying to integrate the interstate bus system over the objection of Alabama's all-white power structure. White served a remarkable 31 years on the Supreme Court as a loyal and devoted Democrat before retiring in 1993. ... Byron R. White was a distinguished jurist who served his country with the utmost honor and dedication.
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Jerrold Nadler
I rise today to support the efforts of citizens everywhere to protect free speech on the Internet. Today, the Supreme Court heard arguments to determine the constitutionality of the Communications Decency Act [CDA], which criminalizes certain speech on the Internet. It is because of the hard work and dedication to free speech by netizens everywhere that this issue has gained the attention of the public, and now, our Nation's highest court. I have maintained from the very beginning that the CDA is unconstitutional, and I eagerly await the Supreme Court's decision on this case.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/41

Jim McDermott
I rise to salute yesterday's U.S. Supreme Court decision prohibiting States from singling out specific classes of citizens for discrimination. And I rise in opposition to recent attempts by this body to restrict the rights of certain groups of citizens. Yesterday's decision is long overdue and cannot be ignored. We have heard much rhetoric about State autonomy in this Congress. Yesterday's ruling affirms that individual States may not deny anyone the exercise of rights guaranteed by the Constitution to all.
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Richard Burr
Aaron Burr's finest accomplishment during his tenure as Vice President occurred during the impeachment trial of Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel Chase. In 1804, Jefferson was incensed at the Federalist-dominated judiciary. He feared that it would nullify an act of Congress by declaring the act unconstitutional and thereby subverting the will of the people. As Vice President, Aaron Burr presided over the impeachment trial that began on February 4, 1805, with the Jeffersonians hoping that Burr would lean their way. Aaron Burr, however, acted impartially and Chase was acquitted on all counts. The newspapers of both parties agreed that although the trial began as a political inquest, it ended as a memorable example of judicial procedure at its best. One of the papers reported that Burr conducted the trial 'with the dignity and impartiality of an angel, but with the rigor of the devil.'
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Ernest J. Istook, Jr.
Using tax dollars for political advocacy not only violates the principles of free speech and free association. Just as the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled (Abood v. Detroit Board of Education, 1977) that compulsory union dues cannot be used to fund political activity, so, too, compulsory taxes should not be used for this purpose.
Ernest J. Istook, Jr., United States House of Representatives, Testimony before the House National Economic Growth, Natural Resources and Regulatory Affairs Subcommittee, June 29, 1995 (Congressional Record, June 30, 1995)
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Jay Kim
For more than 200 years, the American flag has been used to express all that is good and just about our Nation. Many have sacrificed their lives protecting Old Glory. It was unfortunate, therefore, that the Supreme Court ruled to reduce this great symbol to nothing more than a piece of cloth with could be desecrated at any time.
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Enid G. Waldholtz
Unfortunately, and in my view incorrectly, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that burning the American flag is merely a form of free expression, and the Court overturned Congress' attempt to reflect the public's desire to protect this Nation's most treasured symbol. With that ruling, the Supreme Court left us with no alternative but to pass a constitutional amendment. ... Congress is not able to pass a statute which we can guarantee will not be overturned by the Supreme Court.
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Marcy Kaptur
Our Nation's elected representatives spend too little time doing the people's business, and too much time raising campaign funds. Yet the Supreme Court has ruled, in the case of Buckley versus Valeo, that campaign spending limits are an unconstitutional infringement on political expression.
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Bill Emerson
Many will no doubt recall the furor when the Supreme Court in 1989 overturned the Texas conviction of Gregory Johnson and declared the Texas flag-burning statute unconstitutional. The Congress responded weakly, declining to pass a constitutional amendment and opting instead for a new Federal statute which prohibited desecration of the American flag. To no one's surprise, this statute was also declared unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court. As a result, burning and trampling upon our Nation's most revered symbol is now constitutionally protected conduct. The Court based its decision on first amendment freedom of expression.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/48

Bruce F. Vento
Justice Burger's devotion to the Court and the justice system was evident in his hard work and long tenure as a public servant. He began working in the Federal court system in 1956 and remained until he retired as the most senior justice on the Supreme Court through 1986. ... During his 17 years on the Supreme Court, Justice Burger made rulings on complex and controversial issues such as school busing, obscenity laws, prison reform, and sexual discrimination, and he was a special champion of judicial reform. It was importantly Justice Burger, a Nixon appointee, who in one of the most important chapters in our history wrote the opinion clearing the way for the release of the Watergate tapes that would become a determinating factor in Nixon's resignation of the Presidency averting a constitutional crisis that threatened our Nation.
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James M. Talent
Abortion is an emotional issue which has deeply divided our Republic since the Supreme Court handed down the Roe versus Wade decision.
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Bernie Sanders
Often, the most vulnerable among us--those most in need of legal help and representation--cannot afford an attorney. That is why the Supreme Court ruled everyone has a right to a lawyer in a criminal case, and it is why President Nixon founded the Legal Service Corporation to offer low-income Americans representation in civil court.
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
When men have realized that time has upset many fighting faiths, they may come to believe even more than they believe the very foundations of their own conduct that the ultimate good is better reached by free trade in ideas — that the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out. That at any rate is the theory of our Constitution.
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Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought — not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought we hate.
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William J. Brennan, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
[There exists a] profound national commitment to the principle that debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open, and that it may well include vehement, caustic, and sometimes unpleasantly sharp attacks on government and public officials.
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Anthony Kennedy
A law imposing criminal penalties on protected speech is a stark example of speech suppression.
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Anthony Kennedy
First Amendment freedoms are most in danger when the government seeks to control thought or to justify its laws for that impermissible end. The right to think is the beginning of freedom, and speech must be protected from the government because speech is the beginning of thought.
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Anthony Kennedy
The Government may not suppress lawful speech as the means to suppress unlawful speech.
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Abe Fortas
First Amendment rights, applied in light of the special characteristics of the school environment, are available to teachers and students. It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.
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Abe Fortas
In order for the State in the person of school officials to justify prohibition of a particular expression of opinion, it must be able to show that its action was caused by something more than a mere desire to avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.
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Abe Fortas
Under our Constitution, free speech is not a right that is given only to be so circumscribed that it exists in principle but not in fact. Freedom of expression would not truly exist if the right could be exercised only in an area that a benevolent government has provided as a safe haven for crackpots. The Constitution says that Congress (and the States) may not abridge the right to free speech. This provision means what it says. We properly read it to permit reasonable regulation of speech-connected activities in carefully restricted circumstances. But we do not confine the permissible exercise of First Amendment rights to a telephone booth or the four corners of a pamphlet, or to supervised and ordained discussion in a school classroom.
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John Paul Stevens
In the national debate about a serious issue, it is the expression of the minority's viewpoint that most demands the protection of the First Amendment. Whatever the better policy may be, a full and frank discussion of the costs and benefits of the attempt to prohibit the use of marijuana is far wiser than suppression of speech because it is unpopular.
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Charles Evans Hughes
The exceptional nature of its limitations places in a strong light the general conception that liberty of the press, historically considered and taken up by the Federal Constitution, has mean, principally, although not exclusively, immunity from previous restraints or censorship.
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Charles Evans Hughes
It is no longer open to doubt that the liberty of the press, and of speech, is within the liberty safeguarded by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion by state action. It was found impossible to conclude that this essential personal liberty of the citizen was left unprotected by the general guaranty of fundamental rights of person and property.
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William J. Brennan, Jr., Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States
Authoritative interpretations of the First Amendment guarantees have consistently refused to recognize an exception for any test of truth — whether administered by judges, juries, or administrative officials — and especially one that puts the burden of proving truth on the speaker.
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Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr.
Our Founding Fathers were the first to articulate the reasons for their First Amendment, the same reasons given by Learned Hand, and by Justice Brennan in New York Times v. Sullivan. It is a lesson we keep forgetting and must relearn in each succeeding generation.
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Gilbert S. Merritt, Jr.
New York Times v. Sullivan was about the suppression of speech in the South [during the 1960s]. Today's version of suppression is just another verse of the same song.
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Hugo L. Black
In the First Amendment, the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection is must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.
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Hugo L. Black
Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/68

Hugo L. Black
The word "security" is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security four our Republic.
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William O. Douglas
Effective self-government cannot succeed unless the people are immersed in a steady, robust, unimpeded, and uncensored flow of opinion and reporting which are continuously subjected to critique, rebuttal, and reexamination.
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William O. Douglas
The people, the ultimate governors, must have absolute freedom of, and therefore privacy of, their individual opinions and beliefs regardless of how suspect or strange they may appear to others. Ancillary to that principle is the conclusion that an individual must also have absolute privacy over whatever information he may generate in the course of testing his opinions and beliefs.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/71

William O. Douglas
It is my view that there is no "compelling need" that can be shown which qualifies the reporter's immunity from appearing or testifying before a grand jury, unless the reporter himself is implicated in a crime. His immunity, in my view, is therefore quite complete, for, absent his involvement in a crime, the First Amendment protects him against an appearance before a grand jury, and, if he is involved in a crime, the Fifth Amendment stands as as a barrier. ... And since, in my view, a newsman has an absolute right not to appear before a grand jury, it follows for me that a journalist who voluntarily appears before that body may invoke his First Amendment privilege to specific questions.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/72

Elena Kagan
It's hard to think of important prosecutions that have not gone forward because reporters have refused to give information. On the other hand, it's hard to make the argument that freedom of the press has been terribly infringed by the legal regime that's been set up. So it may be that the Supreme Court looks at the status quo and says: "Nothing seems terribly wrong with this. People are ignoring a little bit what we said, but it seems to have results that are not too bad, from either perspective."
Elena Kagan, (Harvard Law Bulletin, 2005)
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/73

Elena Kagan
[This is] the most important question relating to the reporter's privilege: Who's entitled to claim it? When the privilege started, it was meant to cover the establishment press: the New York Times, the Washington Post, the major television networks. But as our media have become more diverse and more diffuse, the question of who is a member of the press, and so who gets to claim the privilege, has really come to the fore. Is the blogger entitled to claim it? And if the blogger is, then why not you, and me, and everybody else in the world? And once that happens, there's a real problem for prosecutors seeking to obtain information. So the question of whether you can draw lines in this area, and if so how, is the real question of privilege.
Elena Kagan, (Harvard Law Bulletin, 2005)
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/74

Elena Kagan
Historically, of course, the Supreme Court really hasn't recognized that kind of reality. It hasn't tried to make distinctions among different kinds of press entities. And there may be strong reasons not to do this. First Amendment law is already very complicated. And if you're asking the Court now to superimpose a whole new set of distinctions on what has already become an unbearable number of complex distinctions, you may end up feeling sorry. There are lots and lots of different kinds of press entities and other speakers. And if each one gets its own First Amendment doctrine, that might be a world we don't want to live in.
Elena Kagan, (Harvard Law Bulletin, 2005)
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/75

Stephen Breyer
Active liberty is particularly at risk when law restricts speech directly related to the shaping of public opinion, for example, speech that takes place in areas related to politics and policy-making by elected officials. That special risk justifies especially strong pro-speech judicial presumptions. It also justifies careful review whenever the speech in question seeks to shape public opinion, particularly if that opinion in turn will affect the political process and the kind of society in which we live.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/76

Stephen Breyer
The Court said that the First Amendment forbids statutory effort to restrict information in order to help the public make wiser decisions.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/77

Stephen Breyer
Traditional modern liberty — the individual's freedom from government restriction — remains important. Individuals need information freely to make decisions about their own lives. And, irrespective of context, a particular rule affecting speech might, in a particular instance, require individuals to act against conscience, inhibit public debate, threaten artistic expression, censor views in ways unrelated to a program's basic objectives, or create other risks of abuse. These possibilities themselves form the raw material out of which courts will create different presumptions applicable in different speech contexts. And even in the absence of presumptions, courts will examine individual instances with the possibilities of such harms in mind.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/78

Stephen Breyer
Money is not speech, it is money. But the expenditure of money enables speech, and that expenditure is often necessary to communicate a message, particularly in a political context. A law that forbade the expenditure of money to communicate could effectively suppress the message.
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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/79

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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected quote/80

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Nominations[edit]

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