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.
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.
It is a wise man who said that there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals.
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.
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.
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.
We forget that the most successful statesmen have been professionals. Lincoln was a professional politician.
Wondering Whom to Read Next?
- William O. Douglas American Judge
- Louis Brandeis American Jurist
- Earl Warren American Judge
- John Marshall American Judge
- Andrew Jackson American Head of State
- 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