Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Holmes Dissents

Obama Signs Federal Hate Crime Law
Today President Obama signed the Matthew Shepard and James Bird Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. At best, it's a feel-good law that will accomplish nothing. At worst, it will undermine the division of powers between the states and the national government by federalizing a wide range of violent crimes, further erode the constitutional ban on double jeopardy by inviting serial prosecutions for the same offense, and impinge on freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of association, and freedom of religion....

United States v. Schwimmer, 279 U.S. 644 (1929), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States. It concerned a pacifist applicant for naturalization, Rosika Schwimmer, who in the interview declared not to be willing to "take up arms personally" in defense of the United States. Originally found unable by the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois to take the prescribed oath of allegiance, a decision reversed in appeal, the case was argued before the Supreme Court, which ruled against the applicant, and thus denied her the possibility of becoming a United States citizen.


The Court placed great emphasis on the interest of the state to foster feelings of nationalism, even though the nationalist beliefs of the country may have some conflict with religious beliefs. The case is best known, however, for Justice Holmes's phrase concerning "freedom for the thought that we hate," which has become a favorite statement of the underlying principles of free speech embodied in the First Amendment.


from Holmes Dissent, Brandeis Concurring, at FindLaw

Some of her answers might excite popular prejudice, but 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. I think that we should adhere to that principle with regard to admission into, as well as to life within this country. --


United States v. Schwimmer at Religious Freedom Page
United States v. Schwimmer at 
United States v. Schwimmer at Wikipedia
Rosika Schwimmer at Wikipedia 

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