Fragile as reason is and limited as law is as the institutionalized medium of reason, that's all we have standing between us and the tyranny of mere will and the cruelty of unbridled, undisciplined feeling.
Justice Felix Frankfurter.
If you like laws and sausages, you should never watch either one being made.
No great idea in its beginning can ever be within the law. How can it be within the law? The law is stationary. The law is fixed. The law is a chariot wheel which binds us all regardless of conditions or place or time.
Executing a murderer is the only way to adequately express our horror at the taking of an innocent life. Nothing else suffices. To equate the lives of killers with those of victims is the worst kind of moral equivalency. If capital punishment is state murder, then imprisonment is state kidnapping and restitution is state theft.
It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself.
Justice Casey Percell
More laws can't make us safe from the tragedies that are the inevitable result of freedom, and of living around other people. Life is real, life is uncertain, life is inevitably unsafe. Measures to make it safe at all costs come with dangers of their own.
There are no good laws except simple laws.
Chrétien de Malesherbes (1775)
No brilliance is required in law, just common sense and relatively clean fingernails.
Prisoner: I want to ask whether it is likely — Arabin: We have nothing to do with what is likely or unlikely: so many unlikely things happen in courts of justice that public time must not be wasted on such enquiries.
Commissioner Serjeant William Arabin, quoted by Stephen Tumim in Great Legal Fiascos, page 115.
Arabin's surreal absurdities from the bench at the Old Bailey in the early 1800s made him a cult figure among young barristers.
Does it ever wake you in the middle of the night? The feeling that one day they will pass that foolish law or one just like it, and come for you? And your children?