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About Equal Justice – or more often its Absence

In Family Rights on June 26, 2009 at 11:37 pm

“It was the boast of Augustus that he found Rome of brick and left it of marble. But how much nobler will be the sovereign’s boast when he shall have it to say that he found law dear and left it cheap; found it a sealed book and left it a living letter; found it the patrimony of the rich and left it the inheritance of the poor; found it the two-edged sword of craft and oppression and left it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence.”

– Henry Peter Brougham, Lord Chancellor of England, 1845


“Loyalty to the principles upon which our Government rests positively demands that the equality before the law which it guarantees to every citizen should be justly and in good faith conceded in all parts of the land”

– President Grover Cleveland, Second Inaugural Address, March 4, 1893


“Any man who seeks to deny equality among all his brothers betrays the spirit of the free and invites the mockery of the tyrant.”

– President Dwight David Eisenhower, Inaugural Address, 1953


“The first duty of society is justice.”

– Alexander Hamilton, ,


“All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.”

– President Thomas Jefferson, First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1801


“Equal and exact justice to all persons of whatever state or persuasion, religious or political…freedom of person under the protection of the law; and trial by juries impartially selected. These principles form the bright constellation which has gone before us, and guided our steps…. They should be the creed of our political faith — the text of civil instruction – the touchstone by which to try the services of those we trust.”

– President Thomas Jefferson, ,


“The poor man looks upon the law as an enemy, not as a friend. For him the law is always taking something away.”

– Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Law Day Speech, May 1, 1964


“Helplessness does not stem from the absence of theoretical rights. It can stem from an inability to assert real rights. The tenants of slums, and public housing projects, the purchasers from disreputable finance companies, the minority group member who is discriminated against — all these may have legal rights which–if we are candid–remain in the limbo of the law.”

– Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Law Day Speech, May 1, 1964


“The great essential to our happiness and prosperity is that we adhere to the principles upon which the Government was established and insist upon their faithful observance. Equality of rights must prevail….[T]he integrity of the courts, and the orderly administration of justice must continue forever the rock of safety upon which our Government securely rests.”

– President William McKinley, Inaugural Address, 1897


“As lawyers, our first responsibility is, of course, to see that the legal profession provides adequate representation for all people in our society. I would suggest there is no subject which is more important to the legal profession, that is more important to this nation, than…the realization of the ideal of equal justice under law for all.”

– President Richard Nixon, Speech to the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, October 1962


“The American people stand firm in the faith which has inspired this Nation from the beginning. We believe that all men have a right to equal justice under law and equal opportunity to share in the common good.”

– President Harry S. Truman, Inaugural Address, 1949


“Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on this earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together.”

– Daniel Webster, , September 12, 1845


“Justice, and only justice, shall always be our motto.”

– President Woodrow Wilson, Inaugural Speech, March 14, 1913


“The feelings with which we face this new age of right and opportunity sweep across our heartstrings like some air out of God’s own presence, where justice and mercy are reconciled and the judge and the brother are one.”

– President Woodrow Wilson, Inaugural Speech, March 14, 1913


“The firm basis of government is justice, not pity. These are matters of justice. There can be no equality of opportunity, the first essential of justice in the body politic, if men and women and children be not shielded in their lives, their very vitality, from the consequences of great industrial and social processes which they can not alter, control, or singly cope with.”

– President Woodrow Wilson, Inaugural Speech, March 14, 1913


“The first duty of law is to keep sound the society it serves.”

– President Woodrow Wilson, Inaugural Speech, March 14, 1913


“Justice has nothing to do with expediency.”

– President Woodrow Wilson, , February 26, 1916


We cannot believe that the construction we have put upon this section will result in any practical hardship, or that the courts will have any difficulty in commanding the services of able and conscientious members of the bar, when such services are required for the protection of the poor and defenseless, whose rights or wrongs are the subjects of judicial inquiry in civil actions. The eager desire of young practitioners to take part in the exciting contests of the bar; the opportunity afforded to the ambitious to achieve reputation by a display of forensic talent; and the higher motives supplied by feelings of humanity and benevolence will, as we believe, in every case, secure a prompt response to the appointment of the court where the gratuitous services of an attorney are called for.”

– Indiana Supreme Court, Bd. of Commissioners vs. Pollard, 153 Ind. 351 , 1899

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