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It is certainly true that reason is the most important and the highest rank among all things and, in comparison with other things of this life, the best and something divine. It is the inventor and mentor of all the arts, medicines, laws, and of whatever wisdom, power, virtue, and glory men possess in this life.
I agree with you that there is a natural aristocracy among men. The grounds of this are virtue and talents... The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature, for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society... Every one, by his property, or by his satisfactory situation, is interested in the support of law and order. And such men may safely and advantageously reserve to themselves a wholesome control over their public affairs, and a degree of freedom, which, in the hands of the canaille [the masses] of the cities of Europe, would be instantly perverted to the demolition and destruction of everything public and private.
Since the narrower or wider community of the peoples of the earth has developed so far that a violation of rights in one place is felt throughout the world, the idea of a cosmopolitan right is not fantastical, high-flown or exaggerated notion. It is a complement to the unwritten code of the civil and international law, necessary for the public rights of mankind in general and thus for the realization of perpetual peace.
I confess that I do not understand the principle on which the power to fix a minimum for the wages of women can be denied by those who admit the power to fix a maximum for their hours of work. I fully assent to the proposition that here as elsewhere the distinctions of the law are distinctions of degree, but I perceive no difference in the kind or degree of interference with liberty, the only matter with which we have any concern, between the one case and the other. The bargain is equally affected whichever half you regulate…. It will need more than the Nineteenth Amendment to convince me that there are no differences between men and women, or that legislation cannot take those differences into account.
Our system of self-government depends on ordinary citizens doing the hard, frustrating but always essential work of citizenship — of being informed. Of understanding that the government isn't some distant thing, but is you. Of speaking out when something is not right. Of helping fellow citizens when they need a hand. Of coming together to shape our country's course. And that work gives purpose to every generation. It belongs to me. It belongs to the judge. It belongs to you. It belongs to you, all of us, as citizens. To follow our laws, yes, but also to engage with your communities and to speak up for what you believe in. And to vote — to not only exercise the rights that are now yours, but to stand up for the rights of others.
Born in other countries, yet believing you could be happy in this, our laws acknowledge, as they should do, your right to join us in society, conforming, as I doubt not you will do, to our established rules. That these rules shall be as equal as prudential considerations will admit, will certainly be the aim of our legislatures, general and particular.
The goodness or badness, justice or injustice, of laws varies of necessity with the constitution of states. This, however, is clear, that the laws must be adapted to the constitutions. But if so, true forms of government will of necessity have just laws, and perverted forms of government will have unjust laws.
So much blood has been shed by the Church because of an omission from the Gospel: "Ye shall be indifferent as to what your neighbor's religion is." Not merely tolerant of it, but indifferent to it. Divinity is claimed for many religions; but no religion is great enough or divine enough to add that new law to its code.
One may well ask: "How can you advocate breaking some laws and obeying others?" The answer lies in the fact that there are two types of laws: just and unjust. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. One has not only a legal, but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that "an unjust law is no law at all."
It ought to be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. Because the innovator has for enemies all those who have done well under the old conditions, and lukewarm defenders in those who may do well under the new. This coolness arises partly from fear of the opponents, who have the laws on their side, and partly from the incredulity of men, who do not readily believe in new things until they have had a long experience of them.