Harry Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun

Harry
Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun
1908
1999

American Supreme Court Associate Justice, best known as the author of Roe v. Wade

Author Quotes

If there is any truth to the old proverb that one who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client, the Court now bestows a constitutional right on one to make a fool of himself.

It is precisely because the issue raised by this case touches the heart of what makes individuals what they are that we should be especially sensitive to the rights of those whose choices upset the majority.

Poor Joshua! Victim of repeated attacks by an irresponsible, bullying, cowardly, and intemperate father, and abandoned by respondents who placed him in a dangerous predicament and who knew or learned what was going on, and yet did essentially nothing except, as the Court revealingly observes, ante, at 193, dutifully recorded these incidents in [their] files. It is a sad commentary upon American life, and constitutional principles - so full of late of patriotic fervor and proud proclamations about liberty and justice for all - that this child, Joshua DeShaney, now is assigned to live out the remainder of his life profoundly retarded. Joshua and his mother, as petitioners here, deserve - but now are denied by this Court - the opportunity to have the facts of their case considered in the light of the constitutional protection that 42 U.S.C. 1983 is meant to provide.

The flaw in the statute [is] that in all its applications, it operates on a fundamentally mistaken premise that high solicitation costs are an accurate measure of fraud.

The potentiality of human life.

The right of an individual to conduct intimate relationships in the intimacy of his or her own home seems to me to be the heart of the Constitution's protection of privacy.

Abortion raises moral and spiritual questions over which honorable persons can disagree sincerely and profoundly. But those disagreements did not then and do not now relieve us of our duty to apply the Constitution faithfully.

The right to privacy... is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.

As a person of judicial integrity who wrote acceptably well and contributed in more than one field. I'd like to be known just as a good worker in the vineyard who held his own and contributed generally to the advancement of the law.

The states are not free, under the guise of protecting maternal health or potential life, to intimidate women into continuing pregnancies.

Butcher of Dachau, murderer, Pontius Pilate, King Herod. You name it, it's all in there.... On the other hand, some of the letters I received, without any question, are some of the most wonderful letters anyone could ever imagine.

The women of this Nation still retain the liberty to control their destinies. But the signs are evident and very ominous, and a chill wind blows.

Constitution compels abortion on demand.

We're all eccentrics. We're nine prima donnas.

Controversy over the meaning of our nation's most majestic guarantees frequently has been turbulent,

Who is to say that 5 men 10 years ago were right whereas 5 men looking the other direction today are wrong.

Dear Chief: I had a feeling that at the very close of today's Conference we may have fitted Matthew Arnold's closing lines in 'Dover Beach' wherein he refers to those 'Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight where ignorant armies clash by night.'

From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death. For more than 20 years, I have endeavored - indeed, I have struggled - along with a majority of this Court, to develop procedural and substantive rules that would lend more than the mere appearance of fairness to the death penalty endeavor. Rather than continue to coddle the Court's delusion that the desired level of fairness has been achieved and the need for regulation eviscerated, I feel morally and intellectually obligated simply to concede that the death penalty experiment has failed.

I may have to push myself a bit, but I would not be offended by the extension of privacy concepts to the point presented in the present case… I think I could go along with any reasonable interpretation of the problem in principles of privacy.

I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.

If one's in the doghouse with the Chief, he gets the crud. He gets the tax cases and some of the Indian cases, which I like, but I've had a lot of them.

When the government puts its imprimatur on a particular religion it conveys a message of exclusion to all those who do not adhere to the favored beliefs. A government cannot be premised on the belief that all persons are created equal when it asserts that God prefers some.

What the Court really has refused to recognize is the fundamental interest all individuals have in controlling the nature of their intimate associations.

In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race. There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently.

Disapproval of homosexuality cannot justify invading the houses, hearts and minds of citizens who choose to live their lives differently.

Author Picture
First Name
Harry
Last Name
Blackmun, fully Harold "Harry" Andrew Blackmun
Birth Date
1908
Death Date
1999
Bio

American Supreme Court Associate Justice, best known as the author of Roe v. Wade