„We are under a Constitution, but the Constitution is what the judges say it is, and the judiciary is the safeguard of our liberty and of our property under the Constitution.“

Speech before the Chamber of Commerce, Elmira, New York (3 May 1907); published in Addresses and Papers of Charles Evans Hughes, Governor of New York, 1906–1908 (1908), p. 139

Ultimo aggiornamento 22 Maggio 2020. Storia
Charles Evans Hughes photo
Charles Evans Hughes1
politico statunitense 1862 - 1948

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„What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence?“

—  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865

Speech at Edwardsville, Illinois (11 September 1858); quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; Mario Matthew Cuomo, Harold Holzer, G. S. Boritt, Lincoln on Democracy http://books.google.de/books?id=8bWmmyJEMZoC&pg=PA128 (Fordham University Press, September 1, 2004), 128. .
Variant of the above quote: What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, our army and our navy. These are not our reliance against tyranny All of those may be turned against us without making us weaker for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in us. Our defense is in the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you prepare your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of others, you have lost the genius of your own independence and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises among you.
Fragment of Speech at Edwardsville, Ill., September 13, 1858; quoted in Lincoln, Abraham; The Writings of Abraham Lincoln V05 http://www.classic-literature.co.uk/american-authors/19th-century/abraham-lincoln/the-writings-of-abraham-lincoln-05/ebook-page-05.asp) p. 6-7
1850s
Contesto: What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independence? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coasts, the guns of our war steamers, or the strength our gallant and disciplined army? These are not our reliance against a resumption of tyranny in our fair land. All of those may be turned against our liberties, without making us weaker or stronger for the struggle. Our reliance is in the love of liberty which God has planted in our bosoms. Our defense is in the preservation of the spirit which prizes liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands, everywhere. Destroy this spirit, and you have planted the seeds of despotism around your own doors. Familiarize yourselves with the chains of bondage and you are preparing your own limbs to wear them. Accustomed to trample on the rights of those around you, you have lost the genius of your own independence, and become the fit subjects of the first cunning tyrant who rises.

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„Thank God, under our Constitution there was no connection between church and state.“

—  James K. Polk American politician, 11th President of the United States (in office from 1845 to 1849) 1795 - 1849

Diary entry (14 October 1846).

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„Our constitution, in short, is a judge-made constitution, and it bears on its face all the features, good and bad, of judge-made law.“

—  A. V. Dicey British jurist and constitutional theorist 1835 - 1922

Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution [Eighth Edition, 1915] (LibertyClassics, 1982), p. 116.

Sonia Sotomayor photo

„I don't believe we should bend the Constitution under any circumstance. It says what it says. We should do honor to it.“

—  Sonia Sotomayor U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1954

1997 Senate confirmation hearing, reported in Deborah Tedford, " "Senate Will Have To Confirm Court Choice http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=104532843&ft=1&f=3", NPR (26 May 2009).

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„The constitution regulates our stewardship; the constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defense, to welfare and to liberty.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.“

—  William H. Seward American lawyer and politician 1801 - 1872

Speech, United States Senate (11 March 1850).
Contesto: It is true, indeed, that the national domain is ours. It is true that it was acquired by the valor and with the wealth of the whole nation. But we hold no arbitrary authority over it. We hold no arbitrary authority over anything, whether lawfully acquired or seized by usurpation. The constitution regulates our stewardship; the constitution devotes the domain to union, to justice, to defense, to welfare and to liberty.
But there is a higher law than the Constitution, which regulates our authority over the domain, and devotes it to the same noble purposes.

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„You seem to consider the federal judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions, a very dangerous doctrine, indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges“

—  Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States of America 1743 - 1826

Letter to William Charles Jarvis (1820)
1820s
Contesto: You seem to consider the federal judges as the ultimate arbiters of all constitutional questions, a very dangerous doctrine, indeed, and one which would place us under the despotism of an oligarchy. Our judges are as honest as other men, and not more so. They have with others the same passions for the party, for power and the privilege of the corps. Their power is the more dangerous, as they are in office for life and not responsible, as the other functionaries are, to the elective control. The Constitution has erected no such single tribunal, knowing that to whatever hands confided, with the corruptions of time and party, its members would become despots. It has more wisely made all departments co-equal and co-sovereign within themselves.

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„To be engaged in opposing wrong affords, under the conditions of our mental constitution, but a slender guarantee for being right.“

—  William Ewart Gladstone British Liberal politician and prime minister of the United Kingdom 1809 - 1898

Homeric Synchronism : An Enquiry Into the Time and Place of Homer (1876), Introduction
1870s
Contesto: A rational reaction against the irrational excesses and vagaries of scepticism may, I admit, readily degenerate into the rival folly of credulity. To be engaged in opposing wrong affords, under the conditions of our mental constitution, but a slender guarantee for being right.

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„Our toast in general is,—Magna Charta, the British Constitution,—PITT and Liberty forever!“

—  William Pitt, 1st Earl of Chatham British politician 1708 - 1778

"A Son of Liberty in Bristol County, Mass.", Newport Mercury (19 May, 1766) on the repeal of the Stamp Act.
C. Rossiter, Seedtime of the Republic (New York, 1953), p. 360.
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„In 1972, Idi Amin expelled 80,000 [Ugandan] Indians and confiscated their 4,000 properties. Now, after returning those properties to their rightful owners, we have ensured that security of persons and property are guaranteed under the constitution.“

—  Yoweri Museveni President of Uganda 1944

As quoted in "President Museveni Highlights Ugandan Achievements for Americans: Ugandan leader proud of political opening, economic growth in his country" https://web.archive.org/web/20050927025054/http://news.findlaw.com/wash/s/20050923/200509231521551.html (23 September 2005), by Jim Fisher-Thompson, Washington File, FindLaw
2000s

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„For what constitutes a child?—Ignorance. What constitutes a child?—Want of instruction; for they are our equals so far as their degree of knowledge permits.“

—  Epictetus philosopher from Ancient Greece 50 - 138

That Courage is not inconsistent with Caution, book ii. Chap. i.
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919)

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„Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties. And not to Democrats alone do I make this appeal, but to all who love these great and true principles.“

—  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865

Speech at Kalamazoo, Michigan (27 August 1856) http://www.mrlincolnandfreedom.org/inside.asp?ID=14&subjectID=2, Collected Works 1:391 http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/lincoln2/1:391?rgn=div1;view=fulltext
1850s

Thomas Jefferson photo

„That instrument(The Constitution) meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.“

—  Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States of America 1743 - 1826

Letter to Abigail Adams about the Sedition Acts (1804) https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-0348
1800s, First Presidential Administration (1801–1805)
Contesto: You seem to think it devolved on the judges to decide on the validity of the sedition law. but nothing in the constitution has given them a right to decide for the executive, more than to the Executive to decide for them. Both magistracies are equally independant in the sphere of action assigned to them. The judges, believing the law constitutional, had a right to pass a sentence of fine and imprisonment; because that power was placed in their hands by the constitution. But the Executive, believing the law to be unconstitutional, was bound to remit the execution of it; because that power has been confided to him by the constitution That instrument(The Constitution) meant that its coordinate branches should be checks on each other. But the opinion which gives to the judges the right to decide what laws are constitutional and what not, not only for themselves in their own sphere of action but for the Legislature and Executive also in their spheres, would make the Judiciary a despotic branch.

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„The Constitution is a piece of rotten parchment that ought to be trodden under foot.“

—  Owen Lovejoy American politician 1811 - 1864

Several Democrats accused Lovejoy of saying this, but he denied ever saying so. https://books.google.com/books?id=qMEv8DNXVbIC&pg=PA193&lpg=PA199
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„We have undertaken a new order of things; yet we progress to it under the framework and in the spirit and intent of the American Constitution.“

—  Franklin D. Roosevelt 32nd President of the United States 1882 - 1945

1930s, State of the Union Address (1935)
Contesto: We have undertaken a new order of things; yet we progress to it under the framework and in the spirit and intent of the American Constitution. We have proceeded throughout the Nation a measurable distance on the road toward this new order.

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