Judge Learned HandJudge Learned Hand, (1872-1961), Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals

Judge Learned Hand Quote

“Political agitation, by the passions it arouses or the convictions it engenders, may in fact stimulate men to the violation of the law. Detestation of existing politics is easily transformed into forcible resistance of the authority which puts them in execution...”

Judge Learned HandJudge Learned Hand
~ Judge Learned Hand

Masses Pub Co. v. Patten, 1917

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

The question here arises, what law? The authority and rule of de facto tyrants executing compelled compliance, license, theft of the noble labor's fruits, forced charity, ID, insurance, etc. is falsely called law and should be resisted. Judges with passionate political agendas, such as Hand's, should be tried for treason and/or otherwise their unconstitutional social engineering and placed with the other law violators.

E Archer, NYC

Of course political agitation may stimulate men to violate the laws -- when the government becomes a lawbreaker, can you expect much else from the people?

Ken, Allyn, WA

Some laws are just made to be broken and with good cause. Three stars because what he said is true but only three because he said it like it's a bad thing.

A.Woods, Gloucester

This quote is incomplete. Both of the judge's statements are accurate, though obvious. Without any context it's pointless to guess what he thought of "forcible resistance of the authority...." If anyone is interested... Briefly, this case involved the Espionage Act of 1917 and censorship. The New York postmaster had refused to deliver a radical publication, The Masses. The court ruled that while The Masses supported those who resisted the government, it did not counsel or advise violating the law, so the postmaster's restriction had violated the First Amendment. The full quote from Hand's opinion for the majority continues as follows: "...execution, and it would be folly to disregard the causal relation between the two. Yet to assimilate agitation, legitimate as such, with direct incitement to violent resistance, is to disregard the tolerance of all methods of political agitation which in normal times is a safeguard of free government." If Judge Hand had a passionate political agenda, it was for protecting freedom of speech. No rating because liberty-tree presented the quote so poorly.

Nobody, Nowhere You Know

The role of a Judge and Jury should be to apply the law to the individual circumstances of the accused, without understanding of a transgression, or it ultimate affects on the community, it is impossible to impose just sentencing.


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