Felix Frankfurter Quotations

Felix Frankfurter

All our work, our whole life is a matter of semantics, because words are the tools with which we work, the material out of which laws are made, out of which the Constitution was written. Everything depends on our understanding of them.

Answers are not obtained by putting the wrong question and thereby begging the real one.

As a member of this court I am not justified in writing my private notions of policy into the Constitution, no matter how deeply I may cherish them or how mischievous I may deem their disregard.

Freedom of the press is not an end in itself but a means to the end of [achieving] a free society.

Gratitude is one of the least articulate of the emotions, especially when it is deep.

If one man can be allowed to determine for himself what is law, every man can. That means first chaos, then tyranny. Legal process is an essential part of the democratic process.

It is a fair summary of history to say that the safeguards of liberty have frequently been forged in cases involving not very nice people.

It is anomalous to hold that in order to convict a man the police cannot extract by force what is in his mind, but can extract what is in his stomach.

It is a wise man who said that there is no greater inequality than the equal treatment of unequals.

It is simply not true that war never settles anything.

Litigation is the pursuit of practical ends, not a game of chess.

[T]he liberty of man to search for truth ought not to be fettered, no matter what orthodoxies he may challenge.

The mode by which the inevitable is reached is effort.

The ultimate touchstone of constitutionality is the Constitution itself and not what we have said about it.

To some lawyers, all facts are created equal.

We forget that the most successful statesmen have been professionals. Lincoln was a professional politician.

Wisdom too often never comes, and so one ought not to reject it merely because it comes late.