Felix Frankfurter

Felix
Frankfurter
1882
1965

American Jurist, Teacher, Supreme Court Justice

Author Quotes

The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about it.

Time and experience have forcefully taught that the power to inspect dwelling places, either as a matter of systematic area-by-area search or, as here, to treat a specific problem, is of indispensable importance in the maintenance of community health; a power that would be greatly hobbled by the blanket requirement of the safeguards necessary for a search of evidence of criminal acts.

To be effective, judicial administration must not be leaden-footed.

To pierce the curtain of the future, to give shape and visage to mysteries still in the womb of time, is the gift of the imagination. It requires poetic sensibilities with which judges are rarely endowed and which their education does not normally develop.

To some lawyers, all facts are created equal

We forget that the most successful statesmen have been professionals. Lincoln was a professional politician.

We have enjoyed so much freedom for so long that we are perhaps in danger of forgetting how much blood it cost to establish the Bill of Rights.

What becomes decisive to a Justice's functioning on the Court in the large area within which his individuality moves is his general attitude toward law, the habits of the mind that he has formed or is capable of unforming, his capacity for detachment, his temperament or training for putting his passion behind his judgment instead of in front of it. The attitudes and qualities which I am groping to characterize are ingredients of what compendiously might be called dominating humility.

While it is not always profitable to analogize "fact" to "fiction," La Fontaine's fable of the crow, the cheese, and the fox demonstrates that there is a substantial difference between holding a piece of cheese in the beak and putting it in the stomach.

Without a free press there can be no free society. That is axiomatic. However, freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of a free society. The scope and nature of the constitutional guarantee of the freedom of the press are to be viewed and applied in that light.

The liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge.

The line must follow some direction of policy, whether rooted in logic or experience. Lines should not be drawn simply for the sake of drawing lines.

The real rulers in Washington are invisible and exercise power from behind the scenes.

The requirement of “due process” is not a fair-weather or timid assurance. It must be respected in periods of calm and in times of trouble; it protects aliens as well as citizens.

As a member of this court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard.

In law also the emphasis makes the song.

Lincoln's appeal to "the better angels of our nature" failed to avert a fratricidal war. But the compassionate wisdom of Lincoln's first and second inaugurals bequeathed to the Union, cemented with blood, a moral heritage which, when drawn upon in times of stress and strife, is sure to find specific ways and means to surmount difficulties that may appear to be insurmountable.

Decisions of this Court do not have intrinsic authority.

In the first place, lawyers better remember they are human beings, and a human being who hasn't his periods of doubts and distresses and disappointments must be a cabbage, not a human being. That is number one.

Litigation is the pursuit of practical ends, not a game of chess.

Emerson said to him, "Young man, have you read Plato?" Holmes said he hadn't. "You must. You must read Plato. But you must hold him at arm's length and say, 'Plato, you have delighted and edified mankind for two thousand years. What have you to say to me?'" Holmes said, "That's the lesson of independence." So off he went and read Plato for a few moths or a year, and then wrote a piece doing in Mr. Plato in one of those ephemeral literary things at Harvard. He laid this, as it were, at the feet of Mr. Emerson and awaited the next morning's mail, hoping to get a warm appreciation from Emerson. And the next day and the next and the next — no sign of life. No acknowledgment from Mr. Emerson. Holmes didn't see him again for about a year. When he saw him, this, that, and the other thing was again talked about. Emerson said, "Oh, by the way, I read your piece on Plato. Holmes, when you strike at a king, you must kill him." Holmes said, "That was the second great lesson — humility."

In this Court dissents have gradually become majority opinions.

Mere speed is not a test of justice. Deliberate speed is. Deliberate speed takes time. But it is time well spent.

For the highest exercise of judicial duty is to subordinate one's personal pulls and one's private views to the law of which we are all guardians - those impersonal convictions that made a society a civilized community, and not the victims of personal rule.

Is that which was deemed to be of so fundamental a nature as to be written into the Constitution to endure for all times to be the sport of shifting winds of doctrine?

Author Picture
First Name
Felix
Last Name
Frankfurter
Birth Date
1882
Death Date
1965
Bio

American Jurist, Teacher, Supreme Court Justice