John Marshall Harlan Quote

“In view of the Constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is colorblind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”

~ John Marshall Harlan

Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

Ratings and Comments

Mike, Norwalk

5 stars for content, ahh that it were so

Robert, Sarasato

Nicely said but sadly untrue... There was a big gap between the Constitution and Martin Luther King - and the list is long. We are intolerant towards those who are different; we are class conscious with regard to wealth. There are two factors that damage the essence of the Constitution and they are summed up in two words; greed and intolerance. I’m amazed how we pick and choose what is sacrosanct in the Constitution – either rewrite it or leave it alone.

Joe, Rochester, MI

The problem lies with additional legislation intent on equilizing and balancing ... race, sex, common sense, morality, and nearly everything. These laws are blinders to redirect our focus from the Constitution, toward socialism. As Neo said, "there is no spoon."

Anonymous, Reston, VA US

True as far as it goes. What Joe doesn't get is that the laws that follow are needed to implement the hand waving intent of the Constitution. It in and of itself is not sufficient in a world where so few have any common sense or sense of honor & decency in their behavior towards other human beings.

Dick, Fort Worth

Am surprised Justice Harlan would say something that ridiculous. There is now and always has been a class system in this country and most others. The rich and powerful are always at war with the working people and are so clever at it that most people never realize it.

E Archer, NYC

Yes, there are classes in America, and No the Constitution does not grant more or less rights to one class or the other -- a significant difference from monarchies and dictatorships.

Ken, Allyn, WA

Classes are fixed in most other countries by virtue of birth. The children of nobility are nobles. Those of low caste will have children of low caste and there is nothing that can change it. Classes in America are extremely mobile both upward and downward across generations. A wealthy man may have children who become poor because of their foolish actions. A poor man can become wealthy and powerful because of his talent and hard work. The poor who war against the wealthy destroy their future hope of being wealthy themselves.

?, Boston
  • Reply
?, Boston    3/7/12

I believe that this is an unfair comment of the writer of this quote.

  • Reply
anonymous    2/20/14

Our Constitution may (by now) be partially colorblind but its purported adherents, in large measure, are not.

Hey Robert, it's Sarasota - no? LOL Nice to see you back.

Darrell, Baton Rouge

You have identified the wrong John Marshall Harlan. This quote was uttered by the grandfather John M. Harlan, II

  • Reply
    Abby    2/20/14

    He was on a case at age 3?

    watchman13, USA

    Wisdom is known of her children. In the court systems, there is failure, perhaps only in continuance, and in part. But for the Quote, it is just, judgment. God is not a respecter of persons, nor is our Constitution. Yes we have the right to, dream and hope, and to explore the endless possibilities made available to us. That is the beauty of bolstering confidence in the children of our nation. Moreover the simplicity, in which it is written, identifies, brings to light, the great depth within the words. Very special, by design. What a word study ! The river does lead to the sea, that great sea of knowledge. Able to confound the wise, and make strong the simple. There are seven rivers. He has set my hand in the rivers, my right hand in the sea. As King David tells us, in his declaration. There we turn again, to the source of inspiration, The Creator, The God of nature, and of natural law.

    Editor, Liberty Quotes

    Yes, we had the wrong John Marshall Harlan. The byline has been corrected. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.


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