Potter Stewart

Potter
Stewart
1915
1985

American Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court

Author Quotes

We are concerned here only with the imposition of capital punishment for the crime of murder, and when a life has been taken deliberately by the offender; we cannot say that the punishment is invariably disproportionate to the crime. It is an extreme sanction suitable to the most extreme of crimes.

To force a lawyer on a defendant can only lead him to believe that the law contrives against him.

These death sentences are cruel and unusual in the same way that being struck by lightning is cruel and unusual.

The right to enjoy property without unlawful deprivation, no less that the right to speak out or the right to travel is, in truth, a “personal” right.

The right to defy an unconstitutional statute is basic in our scheme. Even when an ordinance requires a permit to make a speech, to deliver a sermon, to picket, to parade, or to assemble, it need not be honored when it’s invalid on its face.

The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights... In fact, a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right in property.

The Court today holds the Congress may say that some of the poor are too poor even to go bankrupt. I cannot agree.

The 4th Amendment and the personal rights it secures have a long history. At the very core stands the right of a man to retreat into his own home and there be free from unreasonable governmental intrusion.

Swift justice demands more than just swiftness.

Newspapers, television networks, and magazines have sometimes been outrageously abusive, untruthful, arrogant, and hypocritical. But it hardly follows that elimination of a strong and independent press is the way to eliminate abusiveness.

It must always be remembered that what the Constitution forbids is not all searches and seizures, but unreasonable searches and seizures.

In fact, a fundamental interdependence exists between the personal right to liberty and the personal right to property… The dichotomy between personal liberties and property rights is a false one. Property does not have rights. People have rights

I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description [hard-core pornography]; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.

For me this is not something that can be swept under the rug and forgotten in the interest of forced Sunday togetherness.

Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.

At the very least, the freedom that Congress is empowered to secure includes the freedom to buy whatever a white man can buy, the right to live wherever a white man can live. If Congress cannot say that being a freeman means at least this much, then the 13th Amendment made a promise it cannot keep.

Abortion is inherently different from other medical procedures because no other procedure involves the purposeful termination of a potential life.

A person’s mere propinquity to others independently suspected of criminal activity does not give rise to probable cause to search that person.

Censorship reflects society's lack of confidence in itself. It is a hallmark of an authoritarian regime.

A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it indices a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with things 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 understanding.

Fairness is what justice really is.

Author Picture
First Name
Potter
Last Name
Stewart
Birth Date
1915
Death Date
1985
Bio

American Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court