Sunday, March 02, 2008

On the Absence of Equal Justice


"To such a height th' Expence of courts is gone, That poor Men are redress'd -- till they're undone."
- Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack, 1734
"Justice, sir, is the great interest of man on this earth. It is the ligament which holds civilized beings and civilized nations together."
- Daniel Webster, , September 12, 1845
"It was the boast of Augustus that he found Rome of brick and left it of marble. But how much nobler will be the sovereign's boast when he shall have it to say that he found law dear and left it cheap; found it a sealed book and left it a living letter; found it the patrimony of the rich and left it the inheritance of the poor; found it the two-edged sword of craft and oppression and left it the staff of honesty and the shield of innocence."
- Henry Peter Brougham, Lord Chancellor of England, 1845
"Nine tenths of you are in jail because you did not have a good lawyer and, of course, you did not have a good lawyer because you did not have enough money to pay a good lawyer."
- Clarence Darrow, Address to prisoners in Cook County Jail, 1902
"What does it profit a poor and ignorant man that he is equal to his strong antagonist before the law if there is no one to inform him what the law is? Or that the courts are open to him on the same terms as all other persons when he has not the wherewithal to pay the admission fee?"
- Yale Professor WIlliam Vance, "The Historical Background of the Legal Aid Movement," THE ANNALS (March 1926),
"Equality before the law in a true democracy is a matter of right. It cannot be a matter of charity or of favor or of grace or of discretion."
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge, Speech to American Bar Association, September 29, 1941
"Poverty or wealth can make all the differences in securing the substance or only the shadow of constitutional protections."
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Wiley B. Rutledge, Foster v. Illinois, 332 U.S. 134. 142 (1947) dissenting opinion,

"Any man who seeks to deny equality among all his brothers betrays the spirit of the free and invites the mockery of the tyrant."
- President Dwight David Eisenhower, Inaugural Address, 1953
"The poor man looks upon the law as an enemy, not as a friend. For him the law is always taking something away."
- Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Law Day Speech, May 1, 1964

"Helplessness does not stem from the absence of theoretical rights. It can stem from an inability to assert real rights. The tenants of slums, and public housing projects, the purchasers from disreputable finance companies, the minority group member who is discriminated against -- all these may have legal rights which--if we are candid--remain in the limbo of the law."
- Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Law Day Speech, May 1, 1964
"There can be no equal justice where the kind of trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has."
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black, Griffin v. Illinois, 373 U.S. 12,(1964),
"Our responsibility is to marshal the forces of law and the strength of lawyers to combat the causes and effects of poverty. Lawyers must uncover the legal causes of poverty, remodel the system which generates the cycle of poverty and design new social, legal, and political tools and vehicles to move poor people from deprivation, depression, and despair to opportunity, hope, and ambition."
- E. Clinton Bamberger, first Director of the OEO Legal Services Program, Speech to National Conference of Bar Presidents, Chicago, Illinois, February 8, 1966

"Except for the few that legal services lawyers can represent, poor people have access to American courts in the same sense that the Christians had access to the lions when they were dragged, unarmed, into a Roman arena."
- Earl Johnson, Jr., quoted in Becker and Gibberman, On Trial! (1987) page 17,
"Equal justice under law is not just a caption on the facade of the Supreme Court building. It is perhaps the most inspiring ideal of our society . . . It is fundamental that justice should be the same, in substance and availability, without regard to economic status."
- U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell, Jr., ,
"Substantive and procedural law benefits and protects landlords over tenants, creditors over debtors, lenders over borrowers, and the poor are seldom among the favored parties."
- John N. Turner, Attorney General of Canada, Speech to Canadian Bar Association, December 7, 1969

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