Quotes from Hugo Black and Lon L. Fuller

Every departure from the principles of the law’s inner morality is an affront to man’s dignity as a responsible agent. To judge his actions by unpublished or retrospective laws, or to order him to do an act that is impossible, is to convey to him your indifference to his powers of self-determination.

I believe that if we were forced to select the principle that supports and infuses all human aspiration we would find it in the objective of maintaining communication with our fellows. …How and when we accomplish communication with one another can expand or contract the boundaries of life itself.

Lon L. Fuller
The Morality of Law

The Court’s justification for consulting its own notions rather than following the original meaning of the Constitution, as I would, apparently is based on the belief of the majority of the Court that for this Court to be bound by the original meaning of the Constitution is an intolerable and debilitating evil; that our Constitution should not be “shackled to the political theory of a particular era,” and that to save the country from the original Constitution the Court must have constant power to renew it and keep it abreast of this Court’s more enlightened theories of what is best for our society.

It seems to me that this is an attack not only on the great value of our Constitution itself but also on the concept of a written constitution which is to survive through the years as originally written unless changed through the amendment process which the Framers wisely provided. Moreover, when a “political theory” embodied in our Constitution becomes outdated, it seems to me that a majority of the nine members of this Court are not only without constitutional power but are far less qualified to choose a new constitutional political theory than the people of this country proceeding in the manner provided by Article V.

Justice Hugo Black
Harper v. Virginia State Board of Education (dissent); 383 U.S. 663 (1966)

No one may be compelled against his conscience to render war service involving the use of arms.

Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, Article IV

I cannot consider the Bill of Rights to be an outworn 18th Century ‘strait jacket’ as the Twining opinion did. Its provisions may be thought outdated abstractions by some. And it is true that they were designed to meet ancient evils. But they are the same kind of human evils that have emerged from century to century wherever excessive power is sought by the few at the expense of the many. In my judgment the people of no nation can lose their liberty so long as a Bill of Rights like ours survives and its basic purposes are conscientiously interpreted, enforced and respected so as to afford continuous protection against old, as well as new, devices and practices which might thwart those purposes. I fear to see the consequences of the Court’s practice of substituting its own concepts of decency and fundamental justice for the language of the Bill of Rights as its point of departure in interpreting and enforcing that Bill of Rights.

Justice Hugo Black
Adamson v. California (dissent); 332 U.S. 46 (1946)

All excerpts from Lloyd, Introduction to Jurisprudence (4th ed., 1979).

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Ryan McCarl
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