Hugo Black, fully Hugo Lafayette Black

Hugo
Black, fully Hugo Lafayette Black
1886
1971

American Politician, Senator for Alabama, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Author Quotes

To hold that a state cannot, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, utilize its public school system to aid any or all religious faiths or sects in the dissemination of their doctrines and ideals does not, as counsel urge, manifest a governmental hostility to religion or religious teachings. A manifestation of such hostility would be at war with our national tradition as embodied in the First Amendment's guaranty of the free exercise of religion. For the First Amendment rests upon the premise that both religion and government can best work to achieve their lofty aims if each is left free from the other within its respective sphere. Or, as we said in the Everson case, the First Amendment has erected a wall between Church and State which must be kept high and impregnable.

An unconditional right to say what one pleases about public affairs is what I consider to be the minimum guarantee of the First Amendment.

In my judgment the people of no nation can lose their liberty so long as a Bill of Rights like ours survives and its basic purposes are conscientiously interpreted, enforced and respected so as to afford continuous protection against old, as well as new, devices and practices which might thwart those purposes. I fear to see the consequences of the Court's practice of substituting its own concepts of decency and fundamental justice for the language of the Bill of Rights as its point of departure in interpreting and enforcing that Bill of Rights.

Our Founders were no more willing to let the content of their prayers and their privilege of praying whenever they pleased be influenced by the ballot box than they were to let these vital matters of personal conscience depend upon the succession of monarchs. The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say -- that the people's religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office. Under that Amendment's prohibition against governmental establishment of religion, as reinforced by the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, government in this country, be it state or federal, is without power to prescribe by law any particular form of prayer which is to be used as an official prayer in carrying on any program of governmentally sponsored religious activity.

The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people.

We believe trial judges confronted with disruptive, contumacious, stubbornly defiant defendants must be given sufficient discretion to meet the circumstances in each case.

Anonymous pamphlets, leaflets, brochures and even books have played an important role in the progress of mankind. Persecuted groups and sects from time to time throughout history have been able to criticize the oppressive practices and laws either anonymously or not at all... It is plain that anonymity has sometimes been assumed for the most constructive purposes.

In my view, far from deserving condemnation for their courageous reporting, the New York Times, the Washington Post and other newspapers should be commended for serving the purpose that the Founding Fathers saw so clearly.

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent any part of the government from deceiving the people and sending them off to distant lands to die of foreign fevers and foreign shot and shell.

The Framers of the Constitution knew that free speech is the friend of change and revolution. But they also knew that it is always the deadliest enemy of tyranny.

We repeat and again reaffirm that neither a State nor the Federal Government can constitutionally force a person 'to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.' Neither can constitutionally pass laws or impose requirements which aid all religions as against nonbelievers, and neither can aid those religions based on a belief in the existence of God as against those religions founded on different beliefs.

Any broad unlimited power to hold laws unconstitutional because they offend what this Court conceives to be the ?conscience of our people? ... was not given by the Framers, but rather has been bestowed on the Court by the Court.

In revealing the workings of government that led to the Vietnam War, the newspapers nobly did precisely that which the Founders hoped and trusted they would do.

Sex is a fact of life...and while it may lead to abuses...no words need be spoken...for people to know that the subject is one pleasantly interwoven in all human activities and involves the very substance of creation itself.

The government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people.

What finally emerges from the ?clear and present danger? cases is a working principle that the substantive evil must be extremely serious and the degree of imminence extremely high before utterances can be punished? It must be taken as a command of the broadest scope that explicit language, read in the context of a liberty-loving society, will allow.

Bad men, like good men, are entitled to be tried and sentenced in accordance with law, and when it is shown to us that a person is serving an illegal sentence our obligation is to direct that proper steps be taken to correct the wrong done, without regard to the character of a particular defendant or to the possible effect on others who might also want to challenge the legality of their sentences as they have the right to do 'at any time' under Rule 35. If it has any relevance at all, the fact that there may be other prisoners in this country's jails serving illegal sentences would seem to me to make it all the more imperative that we grant appropriate relief in this case rather than search for some obviously dubious excuse to deny this petitioner's claim.

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government's power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

That Amendment requires the state to be a neutral in its relations with groups of religious believers and nonbelievers; it does not require the state to be their adversary. State power is no more to be used so as to handicap religions than it is to favor them.

The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs.

When I was 40, my doctor advised me that a man in his 40s shouldn't play tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached 50 to start again.

Citizenship is no light trifle to be jeopardized any moment Congress decides to do so under the name of one of its general or implied grants of power.

It is my belief that there are "absolutes" in our Bill of Rights, and that they were put there on purpose by men who knew what the words meant and meant their prohibitions to be "absolutes."

The "establishment of religion" clause of the First Amendment means at least this: Neither a state nor the Federal Government can set up a church. Neither can pass laws which aid one religion, aid all religions, or prefer one religion over another. Neither can force nor influence a person to go to or to remain away from church against his will or force him to profess a belief or disbelief in any religion.

The interest of the people lies in being able to join organizations, advocate causes, and make political ?mistakes? without being subjected to governmental penalties.

First Name
Hugo
Last Name
Black, fully Hugo Lafayette Black
Birth Date
1886
Death Date
1971
Bio

American Politician, Senator for Alabama, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States