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          October 22, 2017


Wisdom for Today from Nation's Past
Ray Winstead

Whatever a person’s political preferences or philosophical inclinations are, it is worthwhile to be reminded that freedom of speech is a fundamental American right as expressed by the following notable Americans from our nation’s history.

• Hugo Black, Supreme Court justice: “I do not believe that it can be too often repeated that the freedoms of speech, press, petition and assembly guaranteed by the First Amendment must be accorded to the ideas we hate or sooner or later they will be denied to the ideas we cherish.”

• Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., Supreme Court justice: “If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought, not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

• Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court chief justice: “When we lose the right to be different, we lose the right to be free.”

• William J. Brennan Jr., Supreme Court justice: “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.”

• Abe Fortas, Supreme Court justice: “Dissent and dissenters have no monopoly on freedom. They must tolerate opposition. They must accept dissent from their dissent.”

• Adlai Stevenson II, presidential nominee: “My definition of a free society is a society where it is safe to be unpopular.”

• John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court justice: “Just as the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of a broader concept of individual freedom, so also the individual’s freedom to choose his own creed is the counterpart of his right to refrain from accepting the creed established by the majority.”

• Earl Warren, Supreme Court chief justice: “When the rights of any individual or group are chipped away, the freedom of all erodes.”

• Warren E. Burger, Supreme Court chief justice: “Free speech carries with it some freedom to listen.”

Ray Winstead



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