Justice Clarence ThomasJustice Clarence Thomas, (1948- ) U.S. Supreme Court Justice

Justice Clarence Thomas Quote

“A theory deeply etched in our law [is that] a free society prefers to punish the few who abuse the rights of free speech after they break the law rather than to throttle them and all others beforehand.”

Justice Clarence ThomasJustice Clarence Thomas
~ Justice Clarence Thomas

Avis v. Aguilar, 2000

Ratings and Comments

Ben, Orem, UT

I am not sure there is such as thing as "abuse" of a right...especially free speech, but the principle is true that law should not be preventive. Law should punish guilt, not preempt action.

Linda Gordon, Prescott, Az

My thoughts and philosophy tend toward Constitutionalism. We are either within the laws, as written by our Founders, or not. Much can be said about their writings - but the Constitution that they gave us is unimbiguous, as far as my thinking goes.

WILL, Ice planet

To pre-empt an action and punich it has nothing to do with justice. Punishment for guilt depends on having done something wrong.

J Carlton, Calgary

Anything else is tyranny.

John, Richmond

We are blessed by God to have this man on our Supreme Court.

Midnightflyer, USA

Too bad someone didn't 'throttle' him before he said this. This justice tries to make law from the bench. I would like to see him impeached or at least have him read the 'Bill of Rights' 500 times outloud before a class of 5th graders to insure the American public he really is aware of them. No wonder he doesn't speak from the bench. Too busy with the hair and the coke thing I guess.

cal, lewisville, tx

Freedom of speech is one thing -- expression is not SPEECH

Juggs, Any Town

Seems to understand what Thomas is trying to say, one might need to know what the case was about. Was a law actually broken? The tone of the message gives me the feeling that he does not approve of free speech when he speaks of throttling them beforehand, as if he might prefer to do so. Thomas doesn't belong on the Court. Too bad Anita Hill's testimony didn't eliminate him. He prefers to act inappropriately, and seems he did use his free speech to say some rather crude words to her.

E Archer, NYC

I imagine it would be hard to find any contemporary politician (yes, judges are politicians) that actually lives up to his/her own rhetoric, but as the rating is for the quote and not the man, I agree wholeheartedly. And cal makes a good point -- expression is not speech, it is an act. That of course does not mean that the People via the Constitution have given Congress regulating authority over the consensual sexual expressions of adults (the politically correct phrase 'free expression' always seems to have a sexual part to it, and mankind has been trying to control who can have sex with whom since time memorial, and our generation of de facto rulers are no different). 'Hate speech' is another example of stretching words into actions. I can say 'I wish he was dead' and have not committed a crime, but if I act on making it so, it is then a crime. One more thing: we cannot legislate 'crime prevention'! The police/government are not there to prevent crimes -- they are there to protect our rights from abuse and to facilitate justice when crimes have been committed. The idea that the government is there to prevent people from saying hurtful things or stopping thieves from burglarizing is wrong. WE are responsible for our own actions and if we want freedom for ourselves then we must grant it to everyone -- even those we hate. We must also learn how to defend ourselves against real agression and how to let the rantings of lunatics roll off our backs.

  • Reply
RBESRQ    7/23/09

I never thought I would ever agree with this guy.

Mike, Norwalk

Not really said very well but, accurate.

warren, olathe

Juggs- Annita belongs in jail for perjury. She was exposed repeatedly during the hearings as a liar. Justice Thomas does not legislate from the bench. The quote can be a bit confusing but it does have some humor to it.

Juggs, Any Town

Intent is the big word in trials now. Not whether someone committed a crime but whether they intended to do an act that was criminal. This includes free speech prosecutions. If someone intended to hurt someone's feelings with their words then that is a crime because there was intent. Lots of ways of twisting the law to get a hold on someone that might be a threat to the establishment. Been there. Kangaroo court abounds.

Adolf H., Germantown

Hmmm..."free speech prosecutions"...I like that idea.

Mike, Norwalk

I’m not sure how to rate this. The entire word salad is Woke dogma couched outside Constitutional law. Thomas’ stated law is a reference to the occupying statist theocracy infesting this land’s theory of positive law NOT ! ! !, the Constitution’s “law of nature and of nature’s God” (Declaration of Independence). Thomas’ theory of a free society differs wildly from the actuality of “law” and “justice”. Punishment is reserved to justice – not law. To punish, abuse or throttle beforehand an inalienable right is a grave injustice.

Abuse, throttling beforehand and punishing an inalienable right, as a societal preference, is indicative of a criminal system. A criminal system’s operation describes; “an offense against the state that is punishable.” (Collins Dictionary of Law) “A crime is an offense against a public law.” (Bouvier’s Law Dictionary) (carnal man’s theoretic edicts) NOT ! ! !, the breaking of a “law of nature / Constitutionally recognized law”.

Fredrick William Sillik, Anytown

With the vast majority exhibiting mentally ill characteristics it's certainly not a few abusing the "rights" of free speech. The mentally healthy strive to deliver the message of love and understanding.


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