Samuel J. Ervin Jr.

(Samuel James "Sam" Ervin Jr.)

Samuel J. Ervin Jr.
Samuel J. Ervin Jr.
  • Born: September 27, 1896
  • Died: April 23, 1985
  • Nationality:
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Samuel James "Sam" Ervin Jr. was an American politician. A Democrat, he served as a U.S. Senator from North Carolina from 1954 to 1974. A native of Morganton, he liked to call himself a "country lawyer," and often told humorous stories in his Southern drawl. During his Senate career, Ervin was a legal defender of the Jim Crow laws and racial segregation, as the South's constitutional expert during the congressional debates on civil rights. Unexpectedly, he became a liberal hero for his support of civil liberties. He is remembered for his work in the investigation committees that brought down Senator Joseph McCarthy in 1954 and especially for his investigation of the Watergate scandal in 1972 that led to the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Quotes About
Author Quote
Quotes
Quote Topics Cited
[Congress is] the chief aggrandizer of the Executive. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
[Describing the Constitution:] ... the very finest document ever to come from the mind of men. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
[Impoundment has become] a means whereby the White House can give effect to social goals of its own choosing by reallocating national resources in contravention of congressional dictates. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
A school prayer amendment would confer upon public school boards a power the 1st Amendment now denies to Congress and the states, that is, the power to establish religion. Religion & God
Bias, like beauty, is largely in the eye of the beholder. Miscellaneous
Every American has the constitutional right not to be taxed or have his tax money expended for the establishment of a religion. Taxes
Every American has the constitutional right not to be taxed or have his tax money expended for the establishment of religion. Taxes
Evidence that has surfaced has cast a black cloud of distrust over our entire society. Our citizens do not know whom to believe, and many of them have concluded that all the processes of government have become so compromised that honest government has been rendered impossible. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
Government is contemptuous of true religion when it confiscates the taxes of Caesar to finance the things of God. Taxes
I am just a country lawyer from way down in North Carolina, and I probably make inquiries with a little bit more vigor than some of these high-falutin' city lawyers do. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I am one of the few men in public life who doesn't complain much about his treatment as the hands of the press. The press takes me to task every once in a while, but they have always been very kind, not attributing my hypocrisy to bad motives. They have always attributed it to a lack of mental capacity. Media, Journalism & The Press
I asked for more information because I am unable to unscrew the inscrutable. Legislating & Legislative Process
I believe in a wall between church and state so high that no one can climb over it. Religion & God
I do not believe that the President has any powers at all except such as the Constitution expressly gives him or such as are necessarily inferred. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
I do not believe that we [Congress] should allow him [the President] to nullify acts of Congress by executive fiat. There is not one syllable in the Constitution which authorizes the President to exercise such power. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
I don't like the surgeon's knife, but sometimes a cancer comes, a cancer on the body politic, and has to be eradicated the same way. Religion & God
I think the great thing about the 1st Amendment is that it extends its rights to everyone. The wise and the foolish. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
I used to think the Civil War was our country's greatest tragedy, but I do remember that there were a few redeeming features in the Civil War in that there was some spirit of sacrifice and heroism displayed on both sides. I see no redeeming features in Watergate. Scandals
If religious freedom is to endure in America, the responsibility for teaching religion to public school children must be left to the homes and churches of our land, where this responsibility rightfully belongs. It must not be assumed by the government through the agency of the public school system. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
If Senator McCarthy believed those things when he said them about the Senate Committee then there is pretty solid ground to say that he ought to be expelled from the Senate for moral incapacity. If he put those things in there honestly believing them to be true, then he has evidently suffered gigantic mental delusions, and it may be argued with much force, that he should be expelled from the Senate for mental difficulty. Compliments, Insults & Rebukes
If you don't think a television news show represents the truth, you can turn off your TV. If you don't think a magazine represents the truth, you can cancel your subscription. You have the right to expose yourself to whatever information you want. But to have the government prescribing what the truth is or limiting the information available for the citizen is contrary to the 1st Amendment. Media, Journalism & The Press
I'm not going to let anybody come down at night like Nicodemus and whisper something in my ear that no one else can hear. That's not executive privilege; it is poppycock. Secrecy & Transparency
In other words, in order to capture criminals, the law enforcement agencies must act criminally—a little lawbreaking does wonders for law and order. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Law is not self-executing. Unfortunately, at times its execution rests in the hands of those who are faithless to it. And even when its enforcement is committed to those who revere it, law merely deters some human beings from offending, and punishes other human beings for offending. This does not make men good. This task can be performed only by ethics or religion or morality. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Liars sometimes tell the truth; they don’t tell lies all the time. Miscellaneous
Our citizens do not know whom to believe, and many of them have concluded that all the processes of government have become so compromised that honest government has been rendered impossible. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
Our government wasn't created to be efficient. It was created to preserve the individual. Management & Managing Government
Political freedom cannot exist in any land where religion controls the state, and religious freedom cannot exist in any land where the state controls religion. Freedom & Liberty
The day may come when we will replace politicians with computers. Judging from some of the reasoning of politicians I've seen over the years, I know I would sooner take the logic of a computer. The machine may suffer the same lack of intelligence as some politicians, but at least there is consistency in its idiocy. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The Founding Fathers were not foolish enough to place the command of American troops engaged in combat operations in a Congress of the United States which is now composed of 100 Senators and 435 Representatives. Military & Veterans
The President ... should be merely the executor of a power of decision that rests elsewhere; that is, in the Congress. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
The President is entitled to keep secret those conversations which a President may have had with his aids for the purpose of advising him in his Constitutional duties. Executive privilege cannot cover crimes, for they are not Constitutional duties. Secrecy & Transparency
The president is the only one we have to make decisions. We have no one else. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
The real answer to the problem of crime committed by persons on bail, and indeed the solution to the general problem of crime, lies not in preventive detention of individuals presumed innocent, but in the speedy trial of the accused and the swift and sure punishment of the guilty. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
There is not a syllable in the Constitution that gives the federal government the right to spy on civilians. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
There is nothing in the Constitution that authorizes or makes it the official duty of a President to have anything to do with criminal activities. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
Thousands of citizens are confined each year, not because they are guilty of commission of a crime, but because they cannot afford to post bond. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
We are told here today, that what the King of England can't do, the President of the United States can. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
What they were seeking to steal was not the jewels, money or other property of American citizens, but something much more valuable—their most precious heritage, the right to vote in a free election. Voters, Voting & Elections
When people fear surveillance, whether it exists or not, they grow afraid to speak their minds and hearts freely to their government or to anyone else. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
When religion controls government, political liberty dies; and when government controls religion, religious liberty perishes. Religion & God
Whenever Americans are free to select their own associates they almost always select associates of their own race. Discrimination & Prejudice