“Crime is Contagious”:

I am presently reading Enemies: A History of the FBI, and encountered this insightful comment by Associate Justice Louis Brandeis, in the Olmstead vs. US (1928) decision.

“The greatest dangers to liberty lie in insidious encroachments by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding. [….] Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a law-breaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means — to declare that the government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal — would bring terrible retribution.” – Associate Justice Louis Brandeis

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
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5 Responses to “Crime is Contagious”:

  1. Cyberkitten says:

    I assume it would be similar if a government either refused to apply any existing law or applied it unevenly – against its apparent enemies but not against its perceived friends or supporters. Justice must not only be done – but be seen to be done and done impartially.

  2. How true! And our current federal government is proving it every day.

  3. Sharon Barrow Wilfong says:

    A eye opening book by, I think, David Horowitz, shows how the Supreme Court is guilty of overreaching their authority so many times and basically no one is stopping them.

    • Is that “Legislation by the Judiciary”, or some such? I think I’ve looked for that one, along with something Bork wrote on a kindred subject.

      • Cyberkitten says:

        i added ‘Supreme Inequality: The Supreme Court’s Fifty-Year Battle for a More Unjust America’ by Adam Cohen to my Wish List recently. That might interest you….

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