Where Liberty Goes to Die
“Liberty lies in the hearts of men and women; when it dies there, no constitution, no law, no court can save it; no constitution, no law, no court can even do much to help it.” – Billings Learned Hand, U.S. Supreme Court Justice
This quote makes me think of two of my favorite movies, Gladiator with Russel Crowe and Braveheart, starring Mel Gibson. In both movies, the protagonist has his freedom threatened and ultimately stolen by evil, self-serving leaders in who’s heat liberty has obviously died. Neither protagonist completely abandons hope however, and they both fight aggressively and passionately to restore liberty not only for themselves, but for the citizenry with which they associate. Liberty burns blazing hot in their hearts and fuels their emotions, actions and decisions. The flames of liberty shine through both men to the point that men who are physically stronger line up to follow them both into the throes of battle and the risk of death. Ultimately, both men die, but not until they’ve made such a mark on their antagonists that liberty springs forth again and wins out in the end. Both men die with honor and integrity knowing their cause was right.
That is the kind of men my coauthors are in their daily lives and the man I strive to be in mine. Do we get it right all the time-no. But I’ve seen these guys demonstrate their passion for liberty in many ways and it serves as an example for me to follow more than any movie line or actor’s portrayal. They’re both worthy men who you should get to know through this blog if you can’t do it in person.
Judge Hand is another man you should get to know. Here are a few more of my favorite quotes from him:
We believe, and I think properly, that when the men who met in 1787 to make our Constitution they made the best political document ever made, but remember, they did so very largely because they were great compromisers.
Life is not the thing of knowing only—nay, mere knowledge has properly no place at all save as it becomes the handmaiden of feeling and emotion.
There is no surer way to misread any document that to read it literally…As nearly as we can, we must put ourselves in the place of those who uttered those words, and try to divine how they would have dealt with the unforeseen situation; and although their words are by far the most decisive evidence of what they would have done, they are by no means final.
A wise man once said, Convention is like the shell to the chick, a protection till he is strong enough to break through.