William O. Douglas

(William Orville Douglas)

William O. Douglas
William O. Douglas
  • Born: October 16, 1898
  • Died: January 19, 1980
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Judge

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301

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William Orville Douglas was an American jurist and politician who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Nominated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Douglas was confirmed at the age of 40, one of the youngest justices appointed to the court. His term, lasting 36 years and 211 days (1939–75), is the longest in the history of the Supreme Court. In 1975 Time magazine called Douglas "the most doctrinaire and committed civil libertarian ever to sit on the court".

Quotes About
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Quotes
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A first principle of Anglo-American jurisprudence is that the ends do not justify the means. Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purposes when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger. Speech is often provocative and challenging. It may strike at prejudices and preconceptions and have profound unsettling effects as it presses for acceptance of an idea. This is why freedom of speech…is…protected against censorship or punishment… There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view. For the alternative would lead to standardization of ideas either by legislatures, courts, or dominant political or community groups Oratory, Discussion & Debate
A powerful lobby [the National Rifle Association] dins into the ears of our citizenry that these gun purchases are constitutional rights protected by the 2nd Amendment. Guns & Gun Control
Absolute discretion is a ruthless master. It is more destructive of freedom than any of man's other inventions Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Adequate relief in a monopolization case should put an end to the combination and deprive the defendants of any of the benefits of the illegal conduct, and break up or render impotent the monopoly power found to be in violation of the Act. Business, Commerce & Finance
Adults must awaken to the urgency of the young people’s unrest—in other words, there must be created an adult unrest against the inequities and injustices in the present system. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
Advocacy and belief go hand in hand. For there can be no true freedom of mind if thoughts are secure only when they are pent up. Freedom & Liberty
All executive power --- from the reign of ancient kings to the rule of modern dictators --- has the outward appearance of efficiency Management & Managing Government ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
An arrest is not justified by what the subsequent search discloses. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. Freedom & Liberty
At the constitutional level where we work, 90 percent of any decision is emotional. The rational part of us supplies the reasons for supporting our predilections. Work, Workers & The Labor Force ;Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
Can there be any doubt that a Bill of Rights that in time of peace bars soldiers from being quartered in a home without the consent of the owner should also bar the police from investigating the intimacies of the marriage relation? Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
Censorship has had a long history in the western world. Book banning is as old as books. Freedom & Liberty
Christianity has sufficient inner strength to survive and flourish on its own. It does not need state subsidies, nor state privileges, nor state prestige. The more it obtains state support, the greater it curtails human freedom. Religion & God
Citizenship obtained through naturalization is not a second-class citizenship. Immigration & Emigration
Communism has been so thoroughly exposed in this country that it has been crippled as a political force. Free speech has destroyed it as an effective political party. Media, Journalism & The Press
Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. Freedom & Liberty
Freedom of movement is the very essence of our free society -- once the right to travel is curtailed, all other rights suffer. Freedom & Liberty
I am not yet ready to agree that America is so possessed with evil that we must level all constitutional barriers to give our civil authorities the tools to catch criminals. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
I do not know of any salvation for society except through eccentrics, misfits, dissenters, people who protest. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Ideas are dangerous; and the traffic in them has been the concern of all dictators. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising ;Dictators, Despots, Autocrats, Autocracies & Dictatorships
If addicts can be punished for their addiction then the insane can also be punished for their insanity. Each has a disease and each must be treated as a sick person. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
If society is to be responsive to human needs, a vast restructuring of our laws is essential ... A vast restructuring of our society is needed if remedies are to become available to the average person. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
If the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech and press is to mean anything, it must allow protests even against the moral code that the standard of the day sets for the community. Freedom & Liberty
If the government is in jeopardy, it is not because we are unable to cope with revolutionary situations. Jeopardy means that either the leaders or the people do not realize they have all the tools required to make the revolution come true. The tools and the opportunity exist. Only the moral imagination is missing. Reform, Change, Transformation & Reformers
if we make technology the predestined force in our lives, man will walk to the measure of its demands. We know how leveling that influence can be, how easy it is to computerize man and make him a servile thing in a vast industrial complex. ... This means we must subject the machine -- technology -- to control… Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
In matters relating to business, finance, industrial and labor conditions, health and the public welfare, great leeway is now granted the legislature, for there is no guarantee in the Constitution that the status quo will be preserved against regulation by government. Regulation & Deregulation
In this Nation every writer, actor, or producer ... should be free from the censor. Freedom & Liberty
It is better, so the 4th Amendment teaches us, that the guilty sometimes go free than the citizens be subject to easy arrest. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
It is better, so the Fourth Amendment teaches us, that the guilty sometimes go free than the citizens be subject to easy arrest. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
It would be highly useful to government espionage to have reports from all our bookstores, all our hardware and retail stores, all our drugstores…. What one buys at the hardware and retail stores may furnish clues to potential uses of wires, soap powders, and the like used by criminals. Intelligence, Spying, Espionage & Covert Operations
Man is about to be an automaton; he is identifiable only in the computer. As a person of worth and creativity, as a being with an infinite potential, he retreats and battles the forces that make him inhuman. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
One aspect of modern life which has gone far to stifle men is the rapid growth of tremendous corporations ... The disappearance of free enterprise has led to a submergence of the individual in the impersonal corporation. Business, Commerce & Finance
our society -- unlike most in the world -- presupposes that freedom and liberty are in a frame of reference that makes the individual, not government, the keeper of his tastes, beliefs, and ideas. Freedom & Liberty
Political or religious dissenters are the plague of every totalitarian regime. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
Possible economies cannot be used as a defense to illegality. Congress was aware that some mergers which lessen competition may also result in economies but it struck the balance in favor of protecting competition. Regulation & Deregulation
Power is more satisfying to some than wealth.... Power is, indeed, a heady thing—whether it be a King, a President, a Legislature, a Court, or an Administration agency that is concerned. Power
Racism in America has not been completely eradicated. It is a sturdy pestilence. Racism and intolerance raise their heads repeatedly, not only in America but in every land. Minorities & Women
Religious experiences which are as real as life to some may be incomprehensible to others. Religion & God
Segregation is a very simple constitutional question for me: No classification on the basis of race can be made. Equality & Equal Opportunity
Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? Miscellaneous
The 5th Amendment is an old friend and a good friend. It is one of the great landmarks in man's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The addict is under compulsion not capable of management without outside help.... If addicts can be punished for their addiction, then the insane can also be punished for their insanity. Each has a disease and each must be treated as a sick person. Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drugs
The American political creed rests on the sovereignty of good-will. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The censor is always quick to justify his function in terms that are protective of society. But the First Amendment, written in terms that are absolute, deprives the States of any power to pass on the value, the propriety, or the morality of a particular expression. Freedom & Liberty
The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the back of the people. Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The Constitution is not neutral. It was designed to take the government off the backs of people. Government ;Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The Constitution never sanctioned the patenting of gadgets. Patents serve a higher end—the advance of science. Copyrights, Patents & Intellectual Property
The fact that there is a five-to-four decision usually means that there is at hand a five-to-four problem. Judges are not perverse; they look for unanimity, not disagreement. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The federal courts do not sit as an ombudsman, refereeing the disputes between the other two branches. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The First Amendment does not select any one group or any one type of religion for preferred treatment. Freedom & Liberty
The first opinion the Court ever filed had a dissenting opinion. Dissent is a tradition of this Court... When someone is writing for the Court, he hopes to get eight others to agree with him, so many of the majority opinions are rather stultified. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The Founders fashioned a charter which envisioned the widest possible tolerance of conflicting religious systems Constitution / Bills & Declaratiobns of Rights
The great postulate of our democracy is confidence in the common sense of the people and in their maturity of judgment, even on great issues—once they know the facts. Democracies & Republics
The only books on revolution were published by communists. Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The people, the ultimate governors, must have absolute freedom of, and therefore privacy of, their individual opinions and beliefs regardless of how suspect or strange they may appear to others. Ancillary to that principle is the conclusion that an individual must also have absolute privacy over whatever information he may generate in the course of testing his opinions and beliefs. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
The power of eminent domain is merely the means to an end. Power
The press will commonly reflect (or even try to create) the view that the end justifies the means. Those of us dedicated to the law must stand before these gales. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The principle of "the consent of the governed" is distinctly American and should be our world-wide slogan. Slogans & Mottoes
The privacy and dignity of our citizens are being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen – a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [person's] life. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
The public welfare is a broad and inclusive concept. The moral, social, economic and physical well-being is one part of it; the political well-being another. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
The purpose of bail is to insure the defendant's appearance and submission to the judgment of the court. It is never denied for the purpose of punishment. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The right to dissent is the only thing that makes life tolerable for a judge of an appellate court... the affairs of government could not be conducted by democratic standards without it. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
The right to revolt has sources deep in our history Rebellion, Revolution, Insurgency & Resistance
The secrecy stamp … has been used to withhold information which in 99 ½ percent of the cases would present no danger to national security. Secrecy & Transparency
The standard of what offends 'the common conscience of the community' conflicts ... with the command of the First Amendment. ... Certainly that standard would not be an acceptable one if religion, economics, politics or philosophy were involved. How does it become a constitutional standard when literature treating with sex is concerned? Any test that turns on what is offensive to the community's standards is too loose, too capricious, too destructive of freedom of expression to be squared with the First Amendment. Under that test, juries can censor, suppress, and punish what they don't like, provided the matter relates to 'sexual impurity' or has a tendency to 'excite lustful thoughts.' This is community censorship in one of its worst forms... Morality, Ethics & Conflict of Interest
The use of violence as an instrument of persuasion is … inviting and seems to the discontented to be the only effective protest. Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
The use of violence as an instrument of persuasion is therefore inviting and seems to the discontented to be the only effective protest Civil Disorder, Riots, Protests & Demonstrations
There is more to the right to vote than the right to mark a piece of paper and drop it in a box or the right to pull a lever in a voting booth .... It also includes the right to have the vote counted at full value without dilution or discount. Voters, Voting & Elections
Those in power need checks and restraints lest they come to identify the common good with their own tastes and desires, and their continuation in office as essential to the preservation of the nation. Power
Various guarantees [of the Constitution] create zones of privacy. The right of association contained in the penumbra of the 1st Amendment is one, as we have seen. The Third Amendment in its protection against the quartering of soldiers "in any house" in time of peace without the consent of the owner is another facet of that privacy. The 4th Amendment explicitly affirms the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures." The 5th Amendment in its Self-Incrimination Clause enables the citizen to create a zone of privacy which the government may not force him to surrender to his detriment. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
We all come to the [Supreme] Court with our bags fully packed. What we take out of them may not have been used before, but they were there. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
We deal with a right of privacy older than the Bill of Rights, older than our political parties, older than our school system. Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions. Families, Children & Parenting
We do not sit as a superlegislature to weigh the wisdom of legislation. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
We must subject the machine—technology—to control and cease despoiling the earth and filling people with goodies merely to make money. Science, Mathematics, Engineering & Technology
What a man thinks is of no concern to government. Privacy, Abortion & Family Planning
What a President may do as a matter of expediency or extremity may never reach a definitive constitutional decision. Presidency, Vice Presidency & Prime Ministership
When corruption enters, the election is no longer free, the choice of the people is affected. Voters, Voting & Elections
When the candidate must seek support from all levels of his community, his political creed will be tolerance, not hatred; equal protection for every minority, not discrimination. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
Where suspicion fills the air and holds scholars in line for fear of their jobs, there can be no exercise of the free intellect. Supineness and dogmatism take the place of inquiry. A problem can no longer be pursued to its edges ... discussion often leaves off where it should begin. Education, Learning, Knowledge & Training
Common sense often makes good law. Law, Courts, Jails, Crime & Law Enforcement
Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance. Politics, Politicians & Political Campaigning & Fund Raising
It seemed to me that I had barely reached the Court when people were trying to get me off.
Literature should not be suppressed merely because it offends the moral code of the censor.
Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. Families, Children & Parenting
No patent medicine was ever put to wider and more varied use than the Fourteenth Amendment.
One who comes to the Court must come to adore, not to protest. That's the new gloss on the 1st Amendment. History
Tell the FBI that the kidnappers should pick out a judge that Nixon wants back. History
The 5th Amendment is an old friend and a good friend. one of the great landmarks in men's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized.
The association promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in any prior decisions. Life
The critical point is that the Constitution places the right of silence beyond the reach of government. Government
The liberties of none are safe unless the liberties of all are protected.
The right to be let alone is indeed the beginning of all freedoms. Freedom & Liberty
The right to revolt has sources deep in our history. History
We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being. Religion & God
We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.