On Civil Liberties
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|Notable statements on the importance of the
ACLU in national life
"If I were to give liberty to the press, my power could not last three
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding" --Justice Louis D. Brandeis, opinion in Olmstead vs. United States, 1928
won our independence... valued liberty both as an end and as a means.... They
believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of
liberty.... They knew that order cannot be secured merely through fear... that
fear breeds repression; that repression breeds hate; that hate menaces
stable government.... Recognizing the occasional tyrannies of governing
majorities, they amended the Constitution....Those who won our independence by
revolution were not cowards.... They did not exalt order at the cost of
liberty." --Justice Louis D. Brandeis Whitney v. California,
another's rights and you destroy your own."-John Jay Chapman
“Restriction of free thought and free speech is the most dangerous of all subversions. It is the one un-American act that could most easily defeat
us.”—Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas
"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety deserve neither liberty nor safety."
"The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood
of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure."
"It behooves every man who values liberty of conscience for himself, to resist invasions of it in the case of others." -Thomas Jefferson
"No person shall be compelled to frequent or maintain any religious
"All men shall be free to profess, and by argument to maintain, their
opinion in matters of religion; and ...the same shall in no wise diminish,
enlarge, or affect their civil capacities."
"They have rights who dare maintain them." -James Russell Lowell
"Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according
to conscience, above all liberties."
"When complaints are freely heard, deeply considered, and speedily reformed,
then is the utmost bound of civil liberty obtained that wise men look for."
"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression." -Thomas Paine
"Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others." -William Allen White
Last Updated September 05, 2005
Copyright ACLU September, 2005