Intellectual freedom means the right to re-examine much that has been long taken for granted. A free man must be a reasoning man, and he must dare doubt what a legislative or electoral majority may most passionately assert.
Reversal by a higher court is not proof that justice is thereby better done. There is no doubt that if there were a super-Supreme Court, a substantial proportion of our reversals of state courts would also be reversed. We are not final because we are infallible, but we are infallible only because we are final.
I see no reason why I should be consciously wrong today because I was unconsciously wrong yesterday.
The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy. One's right to life, liberty and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly may not be submitted to vote; they depend on no elections.
Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.
Those who begin coercive elimination of dissent soon find themselves exterminating dissenters. Compulsory unification of opinion achieves only the unanimity of the graveyard.
In our country are evangelists and zealots of many different political, economic and religious persuasions whose fanatical conviction is that all thought is divinely classified into two kinds - that which is their own and that which is false and dangerous.
To believe that patriotism will not flourish if patriotic ceremonies are voluntary and spontaneous instead of a compulsory routine is to make an unflattering estimate of the appeal of our institutions to free minds.
It is not the function of government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the government from falling into error.
The day that this country ceases to be free for irreligion it will cease to be free for religion - except for the sect that can win political power.
Last Update: 1 October 2022
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