I came into the world a Jew, and although I did not live my life entirely as a Jew, I think it is fitting that I should leave as a Jew. I don’t want to turn my back on a great and noble heritage.
All our work, our whole life is a matter of semantics, because words are the tools with which we work, the material out of which laws are made, out of which the Constitution was written. Everything depends on our understanding of them.
If one man can be allowed to determine for himself what is law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny. Legal process is an essential part of the democratic process.
Government is itself an art, one of the subtlest of the arts. It is neither business, nor technology, nor applied science. It is the art of making men live together in peace and with reasonable happiness.
I don’t like a man to be too efficient. He’s likely to be not human enough.
We forget that the most successful statesmen have been professionals. Lincoln was a professional politician.
Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.
Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep.
It is a wise man who said that there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals.
Judicial judgment must take deep account of the day before yesterday in order that yesterday may not paralyze today.
We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights.
The words of the Constitution are so unrestricted by their intrinsic meaning or by their history or by tradition or by prior decisions that they leave the individual Justice free, if indeed they do not compel him, to gather meaning not from reading the Constitution but from reading life.
There can be no security where there is fear.
Lincoln’s appeal to ‘the better angels of our nature’ failed to avert a fratricidal war. But the compassionate wisdom of Lincoln’s first and second inaugurals bequeathed to the Union, cemented with blood, a moral heritage which, when drawn upon in times of stress and strife, is sure to find specific ways and means to surmount difficulties that may appear to be insurmountable.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- William O. Douglas American Judge
- Louis Brandeis American Jurist
- Earl Warren American Judge
- Andrew Jackson American Head of State
- John Marshall American Judge
- William Blackstone English Judge
- George Wilshere, 1st Baron Bramwell English Judge
- Francis Jeffrey, Lord Jeffrey Scottish Judge, Critic
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. American Jurist, Author
- Stephen Samuel Wise American Jewish Rabbi