„Man has only the rights he can defend. Our most basic right is life. It's enshrined not only in our Constitution, but in the charter of the United Nations. The prohibition against taking a life is found in our most ancient texts and in the statutes of every nation. Every murder, whether in Brooklyn, Santiago, Rwanda or Kosovo, demands punishment by whatever legal means possible. Otherwise, the right to life is just an empty promise. The law against murder applies to all. No matter the perpetrator, the victim, or the country where the murder is committed. It is the one moral law that recognizes no national, racial or religious boundaries. It can tolerate no exception. There is one law. One law. And when that law is broken it is the duty of every officer of any court to rise in defense of that law, and bring their full power and diligence to bear against the law breaker. Because Man has only those rights he can defend. Only those rights.“

—  René Balcer, Spoken by Assistant District Attorney Jack McCoy in the Law & Order episode Vaya Con Dios.
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Václav Havel photo

„The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse.“

—  Václav Havel playwright, essayist, poet, dissident and 1st President of the Czech Republic 1936 - 2011
Context: The law is only one of several imperfect and more or less external ways of defending what is better in life against what is worse. By itself, the law can never create anything better... Establishing respect for the law does not automatically ensure a better life for that, after all, is a job for people and not for laws and institutions.

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Elbert Hubbard photo

„Destruction, violence, ravages, murder, are perpetrated by statute law.“

—  Elbert Hubbard American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher fue el escritor del jarron azul 1856 - 1915
Context: I AM an Anarchist. All good men are Anarchists. All cultured, kindly men; all gentlemen; all just men are Anarchists. Jesus was an Anarchist. A Monarchist is one who believes a monarch should govern. A Plutocrat believes in the rule of the rich. A Democrat holds that the majority should dictate. An Aristocrat thinks only the wise should decide; while an Anarchist does not believe in government at all. Richard Croker is a Monarchist; Mark Hanna a Plutocrat; Cleveland a Democrat; Cabot Lodge an Aristocrat; William Penn, Henry D. Thoreau, Bronson Alcott and Walt Whitman were Anarchists. An Anarchist is one who minds his own business. An Anarchist does not believe in sending warships across wide oceans to kill brown men, and lay waste rice fields, and burn the homes of people who are fighting for liberty. An Anarchist does not drive women with babes at their breasts and other women with babes unborn, children and old men into the jungle to be devoured by beasts or fever or fear, or die of hunger, homeless, unhouseled and undone. Destruction, violence, ravages, murder, are perpetrated by statute law..

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„If a law is unjust, a man is not only right to disobey it, he is obligated to do so.“

—  Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States of America 1743 - 1826
Not attributed to Jefferson until the 21st century. May be a loose paraphrasing of a passage from Declaration of Independence (1776): "But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security." Variant: When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.

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„Justice is the constitution or fundamental law of the moral universe, the law of right, a rule of conduct for man in all his moral relations.“

—  Theodore Parker abolitionist 1810 - 1860
Context: Justice is the constitution or fundamental law of the moral universe, the law of right, a rule of conduct for man in all his moral relations. Accordingly all human affairs must be subject to that as the law paramount; what is right agrees therewith and stands, what is wrong conflicts and falls. Private cohesions of self-love, of friendship, or of patriotism, must all be subordinate to this universal gravitation towards the eternal right.

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„One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws.“

—  Martin Luther King, Jr., Letter from the Birmingham Jail
Context: One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."

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„In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.
In the absence of these safeguards the phrase 'equality before the law', in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading.“

—  Nelson Mandela President of South Africa, anti-apartheid activist 1918 - 2013
Context: In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions. In the absence of these safeguards the phrase 'equality before the law', in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading. All the rights and privileges to which I have referred are monopolized by whites, and we enjoy none of them. The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts and accuses us, and he sits in judgement over us.

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„He must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that, if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires.“

—  Earl Warren United States federal judge 1891 - 1974
Context: To summarize, we hold that, when an individual is taken into custody or otherwise deprived of his freedom by the authorities in any significant way and is subjected to questioning, the privilege against self-incrimination is jeopardized. Procedural safeguards must be employed to protect the privilege, and unless other fully effective means are adopted to notify the person of his right of silence and to assure that the exercise of the right will be scrupulously honored, the following measures are required. He must be warned prior to any questioning that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to the presence of an attorney, and that, if he cannot afford an attorney one will be appointed for him prior to any questioning if he so desires. Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U. S. 436, 478-79 (1965)

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