Justice William J. BrennanJustice William J. Brennan, (1906-1997) U. S. Supreme Court Justice

Justice William J. Brennan Quote

“The Framers of the Bill of Rights did not purport to “create” rights. Rather they designed the Bill of Rights to prohibit our Government from infringing rights and liberties presumed to be preexisting.”

Justice William J. BrennanJustice William J. Brennan
~ Justice William J. Brennan


Ratings and Comments

Nancy Underwood, Chicago

The best of this insight is the recognition that there are certain rights that are "preexisting" and as in another famous document...they are "inalienable."

J. B. Wulff, Bristol

This man led an inspiring life. He loved hiking trails in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. There is nothing quite like this pursuit for clearing your head and centering your soul. One of the all time greats on the Supreme Court. This quote captures perfectly the concept of the intent of the authors where our Constitution is concerned.

Mike, Norwalk


J Carlton, Calgary

We have natural rights as living beings. The Constitution asserts and outlines these rights. But we did already have them.

Mike, Norwalk

Waffler, I thought you believed the majority of people decides what the Constitution says and thus the majority of people are then the giver of rights, such as would justify license. Which is it, are rights Creator endowed or does the ability to license mean the majority creates rights?

jim k, austin

It boils down to rhe fact that the Bill of Rights was designed to protect the citizens from their own government.

jim k, austin

And now we need that protection more than ever.

  • Reply
Anon    6/3/09

When did self evident truths of rights and liberrties become presumed to exist? 5 stars for the first and second line but thumbs down for the last.

Justin, Elkland

The Framers realized that the greatest internal threat to a republic was a strong central government. It is easy for a republic to begin free and then become mired in laws and bureaucracy only to be usurped by tyrants and/or foreign powers because it can be done progressively. In that we're not much different than frogs in a pot.

J Carlton, Calgary

When did self evident truths of rights and liberrties become presumed to exist?....At the moment of birth. Unless we are to presume that its natural to be born into slavery.

grace, va
  • Reply
grace, va    6/4/09

Absolutely! Rights are not sovereign if they are simply man granting man freedoms. There is nothing more righteous about a man saying you're free than another man (or man-made power) saying you're not. The Founders hinged their arguments that freedom is an inaliable right in that it was a right directly granted from God to man, a gift that was not to be infringed upon or taken by any other man or man-made power. Rights are sovereign because they are divinely granted.

Ronw13, Oregon

There was No, presumption, by our Founding Fathers concerning our inalienable rights. They were "known" ( Ginosko, absolutely known) to preexist. Remember the Rock upon which the Republic Rest. Brennan uses the word presume, as if he were not sure. Which brings to question the Supreme Courts private interpretations rather than literal translation. Indoctrination of socialism enters, in such a way, both with State and Church. Words mean exactly what they say, as they say them, where they are said.

Bruski, Naples FL

Our Founders understood how precious freedom and liberty are to mankind and to societies.

Let us hope and pray that we can keep The Republic.

SCSURFR, La Mirada

Oh how we have strayed.

E Archer, NYC

The point cannot be understated: the Constitution and Bill of Rights are the rules for the federal government, not the People. Whatever has not been explicity agreed to in these founding contracts, is reserved to the States and the People.

The purpose of these declarations is to limit government power and keep it in check -- not the opposite, to justify the exercise of unlimited power, i.e. to rule. Have we elected a president to rule? Or to preside over the execution of the laws designed to protect the lives, liberty, and property of the People who are the rulers of themselves, not each other.


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