"The Constitution of the United States is a law
for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace,
and covers with the shield of its protection
all classes of men, at all times, and under all circumstances.
No doctrine, involving more pernicious consequences,
was ever invented by the wit of man than
that any of its provisions can be suspended
during any of the great exigencies of government.
Such a doctrine leads directly to anarchy or despotism,
but the theory of necessity on which it is based is false;
for the government, within the Constitution,
has all the powers granted to it,
which are necessary to preserve its existence;
as has been happily proved by the result
of the great effort to throw off its just authority."
by:
Justice David Davis
(1815-1886) U.S. Supreme Court Justice 1862-1877
Source:
Ex parte Milligan 71 U.S. 2 (1866) DAVIS, J., Opinion of the Court
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Reader comments about this quote:
Brilliant counter (along with the quote about constitutional usurpations by Act of Congress by Justice Stephen Field) to the government's claim that it needs sweeping new domestic powers to fight the War on Terrorism. More government power equals less freedom. It's an equation that oppressed peoples from the old Soviet Union to the old East Germany to the old China to the old Iraq have had burned into their consciousnesses. Why do we refuse to understand it here in America? At risk is the very Constitutional foundation that affirms our right to be free from an overpowering federal government.
 -- Bill the Libertarian, Sarasota, FL     
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    Beautifully said!! When America becomes the 'home of the brave' again, the next revolution will begin.
     -- Virginia     
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    please foward to our senator's
     -- raymond clevenger, gilbert     
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    The Patriot Act suspends our rights. It is an act of desparation by our government, who rule by intimidation.
     -- Joel, Rochester, MI     
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    Over the years of reading the quotes you've sent me this may be the first one I need to have translated. Do you have anyone at Liberty Quotes who could paraphrse it for me? Thanks and keep em coming.
     -- David Rains, The Colony     
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    Here is a layman's translation: "The US Constitution is a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace, and protects all classes of people, at all times, and under all circumstances. No policy, involving more deadly punishment, was ever imagined than suspending the constraints set down by the Constitution during any of the great urgencies of government. Such a doctrine leads directly to lawlessness or tyranny, and the alleged necessity on which it is based is false; because the government, within the Constitution, has been granted all the powers it needs to preserve its existence; as has been happily proved by the result of the great effort to subvert the just authority of the Constitution."
     -- Editor, Liberty Quotes     
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    How very applicable are these words: "as has been proven by the result of the great effort to throw off its just authority"...Tom DeLay needs to pay heed...he will go nowhere in seeking to dismantle the Judiciary as we know it. It grows as do we.
     -- A. Jurgensen, Stuart, FL     
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    This was written as a reaction to Lincoln's extraordinary actions to circumvent certain provisions of the constitution "temporarily" and of course, justified by the war which threatened the reality of the union itself. Lincoln, I'm sure, felt that any extreme activity was justified to ensure that the union endured. NOW, we realize that he set a precedent which has been followed by presidents ever since, in every sort of "emergency." Either the constitution works "equally in war and peace" or not. If not, then it's left open for all sorts of tinkering and bypassing. Which is what we have now.
     -- Senor Reek, Corozal, Belize, Central America     
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    YES!!!
     -- jodopo, michigan     
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    SO don't let GWB, Klinton, or any of our servant government officials scare us into 'temporarily' suspending our rights in the name of national security. Repeal the Patriot Act! Return to the rule of Law.
     -- E Archer, NYC     
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    How very apropos of our time. Thanks.
     -- Dan Shellist, Houston     
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    Said well Senor Reek and Archer; further, the Constitution is not law to us, but it makes provision for us whereby we can make laws. The Constitution is a limitation on the subject matter inwhich the Sovereign's representatives can pass laws. To say the Constitution is law is more governmental mis-information and confuses that which is in fact, "law". The rest of the statement as it pertains to the Constitution is accurate
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    That's right, Mike. The Constitution simply authorizes the government to act in the people's behalf and does not regulate their freedoms at all. The limits are on government. As far as getting back to our republic goes, Lincoln "saved" the republic by killing it. The time of the republic is past, at least until we create a new one.
     -- Ken, Allyn, WA     
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    With Justice Davis I agree. About Lincoln...He SUSPENDED habias corpus!! 1,000 of Northerns were thrown in jail for their beliefs about the Civil War. We all need to apply reason here. I don't know the details of the Patriot Act, so I won't comment on it, but compared to the actions of Lincoln, a "National Hero", GWB and Clinton are pussy-cats. I challenge anyone to show me that habias corpus has been violated ONE TIME under the Patriot Act. I'm not agreeing with the act per se, but come on people, have a little historical perspective.
     -- Jeff Whittington, Colorado Springs, Co     
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    Mike, your comment is as brilliant as the quote. What you said is of the knowledge absolutely necessary if we are ever to regain control of our out of control administration.
     -- Anon     
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    Jeff Whittington, you said-----"I challenge anyone to show me that habias corpus has been violated ONE TIME under the Patriot Act." Give it time. The power is there to do it and you can be sure it is there for a reason. It WILL be used as historical perspectives show us. Any power uncontrolled governments had or have were and are used to subdue the populace. It is ironic that in our case it's not the real government that has these powers for that is us, it is a constitutional administration that has usurped the real governments power in overriding the limitations of power originally placed on it.
     -- Anon     
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    Let's not forget that the Constitution and The Bill of Rights was primarily designed to protect the citizens from their own government. We need that protection now more than ever.
     -- jim k, austin     
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     -- Anonymous, Reston, VA, US      
    Not exactly right Jim. The Constitution was primarily designed "to form a more perfect union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare. and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for The United States of America" So from where did you get your information. Above I let the Constitution speak for itself, you should try it sometime. It would appear that the framers were looking for Union, Justice,Tranquility, Defense, Welfare and Liberty.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    A more perfect union. Nothing provides this better than the mutual respect of each others rights.----Establish justice. Nothing is more just than the mutual respect of each others rights----Insure domestic tranquility. Nothing insures this better than the mutual respect of each others rights.----Provide for the common defense. Nothing provides that better than when people who mutually respect each other's rights band together in tranquility to defend that principle if necessary.----Promote the general welfare. Nothing promotes that better than glorifying the mutual respect of each others rights to each other and the value of that natural law principle to keeping the peace.----To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity. Nothing does this better than doing all of the above. Everybody, voluntarily or by oath, but EVERYBODY. In every aspect of life and society.
     -- Anon     
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    Waffler, your hypocrisy makes me smile. You claim democracies are the ultimate form of freedom because it is a union of the majority and the majority is always right. Then you tout the US is a democracy, quote the Preamble to the Constitution "in order to form a more perfect union" and then claim the Constitution is a dark document. Those dark concepts of establishing justice and insuring domestic tranquility are further put down by you by your supporting the punishment of those that have not committed any crime, infringed on anyone's rights, or harmed anyone in anyway (victimless crimes). Your hypocrisy of claiming the US is a democracy so that its Obamunist executor can promote a perceived general welfare that is acting constitutionally to create an unconstitutional democracy in the form or a socialistic theocracy is a consistent Wafflerism (Is the dark constitutional democracy a contradiction in terms?). Your dark concept of securing the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity is upheld by you acknowledging the Supreme court's justices are knowledgeable professionals, and as such are the only ones who have the right to interpret the Constitution (biblically there being no personal interpretation of scripture or the Constitution). One example of hypocrisy there is when you claim slavery is bad when individual men own men, as set forth by the democracy's professionals in the unconstitutional Dred Scott Decision, and slavery is good when the slaves are the property of the collective in a democracy.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    Mike if the founding of this country was on the principle that "all men are creatred equal" when it served the Continental Congress' purpose in its war against the English Crown and then 11 years later writing a Constitution that counted slaves (property that is) as 3/5 of a person for calculating the number of reprsentatives to Congress but and but I repeat not allowing those slaves or that property to vote, and further giving THE STATE (that most abhorent of things as you always state) the right to appoint people to The Senate of the United States, is not hypocrisy I don't know what is. When it served the colonies purpose to excite the common man with words like "all men are created equal" and the right "to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" those men gather in Philadelphia used them, when it served their purpose to take control of their fellow men and stop the ideas of freedom and liberty they wrote a Constitution that was deficient, devious and deceitful giving power to THE STATE, and to property owners (that is slave holders) rather than to the people. On the other hand maybe that was all they could do in order to have blessed union and thus compormise. They did have enough sense to include The Amendment Process. But how could the forces of liberty and democracy ever amend the thing if the slave holding states kept increading their numbers in the Congress simply by importing and increasing the slave population and with their lock on the Senate via THE STATE control rather than poeple control. We made it through those dark 73 years from 1787 until 1861 and a war and some amendments especially those in 1913 settled the rest. Mike you Sir have no idea what hypocrisy is!
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, I do know what hypocrisy is, and you are he. I've already answered your hypocrisy here. Your partially selected recollection of history (the majority thereof intentionally ignored) with new word definitions and half truth interpretations do not impress those that are willing to research original history in a complete fashion, with an open heart and mind. Further, those that wish a more perfect Union, law, justice, order, to flourish (at life, liberty, and property), individually secure rights, domestic tranquility, a promotion of their nation's general welfare, to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, and to support the defense thereof see through your prejudiced rhetoric. It is very easy to see your politically correct agenda, complete with institutional / religious / moral ignorance that will bring an economic and otherwise downfall to this great representative republic.
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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    I know I am doing well when you call me names and use invective against me.
     -- Waffler, Smith     
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    Waffler, you and your ilk are doing well, you're in the driver's seat, and destruction, here we come
     -- Mike, Norwalk     
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