Felix Frankfurter

Felix
Frankfurter
1882
1965

American Jurist, Teacher, Supreme Court Justice

Author Quotes

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.

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.

Fragile as reason is and limited as law is as the institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feelings.

It has not been unknown that judges persist in error to avoid giving the appearance of weakness and vacillation.

No court can make time stand still.

Freedom of expression is the well-spring of our civilization... The history of civilization is in considerable measure the displacement of error which once held sway as official truth by beliefs which in turn have yielded to other truths. Therefore the liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge.

It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have been forged in controversies involving not very nice people.

No judge writes on a wholly clean slate.

Future lawyers should be more aware that law is not a system of abstract logic, but the web of arrangements, rooted in history but also in hopes, for promoting to a maximum the full use of a nation's resources and talents.

It is anomalous to hold that in order to convict a man the police cannot extract by force what is in his mind, but can extract what is in his stomach.

Of compelling consideration is the fact that words acquire scope and function from the history of events which they summarize.

Government is itself an art, one of the subtlest of arts.

It is not only under Nazi rule that police excesses are inimical to freedom. It is easy to make light of insistence on scrupulous regard for the safeguards of civil liberties when invoked on behalf of the unworthy. It is too easy. History bears testimony that by such disregard are the rights of liberty extinguished, heedlessly at first, then stealthily, and brazenly in the end.

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

American Jurist, Teacher, Supreme Court Justice