Many justices of the Supreme Court were heroes in their own right: Chief Justice John Marshall abode the punishing winter at Valley Forge by Gen. George Washington’s side. Justice Robert Jackson was granted a leave of absence from the bench to prosecute Nazis at the Nuremberg trials. In honor of their unsung valor, here are seven quotes from Supreme Court justices about freedom and America.
“Let the American youth never forget, that they possess a noble inheritance, bought by the toils, and sufferings, and blood of their ancestors; and capacity, if wisely improved, and faithfully guarded, of transmitting to their latest posterity all the substantial blessings of life, the peaceful enjoyment of liberty, property, religion, and independence.”
Justice Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution
“May it be long before the people of the United States shall cease to take a deep and pervading interest in the Fourth of July, as the birthday of our national life, or the event which then occurred shall be subordinated to any other of our national history.”
Justice Samuel Freeman Miller
“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.”
Justice Louis Brandeis, Whitney v. California
“The great ideals of liberty and equality are preserved against the assaults of opportunism, the expediency of the passing hour, the erosion of small encroachments, the scorn and derision of those who have no patience with general principles.”
Justice Benjamin Cardozo, Nature of Judicial Process
“The framers of the Constitution knew human nature as well as we do. They too had lived in dangerous days; they too knew the suffocating influence of orthodoxy and standardized thought. They weighed the compulsions for restrained speech and thought against the abuses of liberty. They chose liberty.”
Justice William Douglas, Beauharnais v. Illinois
“But our society – unlike most in the world – presupposes that freedom and liberty are in a frame of reference that makes the individual, not government, the keeper of his tastes, beliefs, and ideas; that is the philosophy of the First Amendment; and it is this article of faith that sets us apart from most nations in the world.”
Justice William Douglas, Paris Adult Theatre v. Slaton
“Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men’s minds.”
Justice Thurgood Marshall, Stanley v. Georgia
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