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Judicial Branch & Supreme Court Quotes

They Said It

"The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme court, and in such inferior courts as the congress may from time to time ordain and establish."
- Article III, Section 1, United States Constitution [The Pacific Reporter, (West Publishing Company, 1895), pg. 745.]

"It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each."
- Chief Justice John Marshall, 1803 [John Marshall and John Edward Oster, The Political and Economic Doctrines of John Marshall (New York: Neale Publishing Co., 1914), pg. 307.)

"Presidents come and go, but the Supreme Court goes on forever."
- William Howard Taft, c. 1910 [Richard Panchyk, Our Supreme Court (Chicago Review Press, 2006), pg. 1.]

"No higher duty, or more solemn responsibility rests upon this Court than that of translating into living law and maintaining this constitutional shield...for the benefit of every human being subject to our Constitution— of whatever race, creed, or persuasion."
- Hugo Black, 1940 [Bill Swainson, ed., Encarta Book of Quotations (Macmillan, 2000), pg.116.]

"The words of the Constitution…. are so unrestricted by their intrinsic meaning or by their history or by tradition or by prior decisions that they leave the individual Justice free, if indeed they do not compel him, to gather meaning not from reading the Constitution but from reading life."
- Felix Frankfurter, 1949 [Alpheus Thomas Mason, The Supreme Court from Taft to Burger (LSU Press, 1979), pg. 14.]

"The life of the law has not been logic, it has been experience.… The law embodies the story of a nation's development through many centuries, and it cannot be dealt with as if it contained only the axioms and corollaries of a book of mathematics."
- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., 1880 [Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., The Common Law (1880; reprint published by The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd., 2004), pg. 1.]

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