William O. Douglas, fully Judge William Orville Douglas

William O.
Douglas, fully Judge William Orville Douglas
1898
1980

American Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission

Author Quotes

Man is about to be an automaton; he is identifiable only in the computer. As a person of worth and creativity, as a being with an infinite potential, he retreats and battles the forces that make him inhuman. The dissent we witness is a reaffirmation of faith in man; it is protest against living under rules and prejudices and attitudes that produce the extremes of wealth and poverty and that make us dedicated to the destruction of people through arms, bombs, and gases, and that prepare us to think alike and be submissive objects for the regime of the computer.

Tell the FBI that the kidnappers should pick out a judge that Nixon wants back.

The function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purpose when it invites a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions 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 passes for acceptance of an idea.

These examples and many others demonstrate an alarming trend whereby the privacy and dignity of our citizens is being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen -- a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of man's life at will.

Contemporary public concern for protecting nature?s ecological equilibrium should lead to the conferral of standing upon environmental objects to sue for their own preservation.

Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred.

That seems to us to be the common sense of the matter; and common sense often makes good law.

The function of the prosecutor under the federal Constitution is not to tack as many skins of victims as possible against the wall. His function is to vindicate the rights of the people as expressed in the laws and give those accused of crime a fair trial.

For there is no constitutional right for any race to be preferred... If discrimination based on race is constitutionally permissible when those who hold the reins can come up with compelling reasons to justify it, then constitutional guarantees acquire an accordion-like quality.

May I tell you why it seems to me a good thing for us to remember wrong that has been done to us? That we may forgive it.

The 5th Amendment is an old friend and a good friend. one of the great landmarks in men's struggle to be free of tyranny, to be decent and civilized.

The great and invigorating influences in American life have been the unorthodox: the people who challenge an existing institution or way of life, or say and do things that make people think.

Free speech is not to be regulated like diseased cattle and impure butter. The audience... that hissed yesterday may applaud today, even for the same performance.

My faith is that the only soul a man must save is his own.

The Arctic has a call that is compelling. The distant mountains [of the Brooks Range in Alaska] make one want to go on and on over the next ridge and over the one beyond. The call is that of a wilderness known only to a few...This last American wilderness must remain sacrosanct.

The law is not a series of calculating machines where answers come tumbling out when the right levers are pushed.

Freedom of movement is the very essence of our free society -- once the right to travel is curtailed, all other rights suffer.

No attack on democracy can hide the fact that it can be replaced only by a system that substitutes coercion for persuasion; one that replaces the individual's choice with the choice of some ruler.

The association promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in any prior decisions.

The most important aspect of freedom of speech is freedom to learn. All education is a continuous dialogue - questions and answers that pursue every problem to the horizon. That is the essence of academic freedom.

A function of free speech under our system of government is to invite dispute. It may indeed best serve its high purposes when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions 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 acceptance of an idea.

He was, however, speaking to a representative of government, the police. And it is to government that one goes 'for a redress of grievances,' to use an almost forgotten phrase of the First Amendment. But it is said that the purpose was 'to cause inconvenience and annoyance.' Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.

No matter what the legislature may say, a man has the right to make his speech, print his handbill, compose his newspaper, and deliver his sermon without asking anyone's permission. The contrary suggestion is abhorrent to our traditions.

The conception of political equality from the Declaration of Independence, to Lincoln's Gettysburg Address, to the Fifteenth, Seventeenth, and Nineteenth Amendments could mean only one thing ? one person, one vote.

The purpose of the University of Washington cannot be to produce black lawyers for blacks, Polish lawyers for Poles, Jewish lawyers for Jews, Irish lawyers for Irish. It should be to produce good lawyers for Americans and not to place First Amendment barriers against anyone.

Author Picture
First Name
William O.
Last Name
Douglas, fully Judge William Orville Douglas
Birth Date
1898
Death Date
1980
Bio

American Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission