A CONSTITUTIONAL FAITH by Hugo Lafayette Black


Email this review


The Supreme Court Justice presents his judicial principles and counters charges that recently he has changed his stance. Of decisions which appear to contradict earlier ones, he explains that the shift was in choosing which principle applied to an issue, not in the principle itself. Unwilling to be convicted of ""judicial activism,"" he cites specific cases to show that after thirty-one years in the high court he remains a strict constructionist: ""it is language and history that are the crucial factors which influence me in interpreting the Constitution."" And he argues here that his close reading of the Constitution, particularly the First Amendment, has led him to controversial opinions. For example, the Justice opposes all censorship and libel laws. ""My view is, without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, that freedom of speech means that the government shall not do anything . . . to people either for the views they have or the views they express or the words they speak or write."" In these essays, prepared for the 1968 James S. Carpentier Lectures at Columbia University Law School, Justice Black explains why his long-held views still provoke criticism: ""Some people would have you believe that this is a very radical position, and maybe it is.

Pub Date: Oct. 31st, 1968
Publisher: Knopf