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Fisher Ames

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We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press...It is a precious pest, and a necessary mischief, and there would be no liberty without it.

 
Fisher Ames

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It is a very comfortable reflection to the lovers of liberty, that this peculiar privilege of Britain is of a kind that cannot easily be wrested from us, but must last as long as our government remains, in any degree, free and independent. It is seldom, that liberty of any kind is lost all at once. Slavery has so frightful an aspect to men accustomed to freedom, that it must steal upon them by degrees, and must disguise itself in a thousand shapes, in order to be received. But, if the liberty of the press ever be lost, it must be lost at once. The general laws against sedition and libelling are at present as strong as they possibly can be made. Nothing can impose a farther restraint, but either the clapping an Imprimatur upon the press, or the giving to the court very large discretionary powers to punish whatever displeases them. But these concessions would be such a bare-faced violation of liberty, that they will probably be the last efforts of a despotic government. We may conclude, that the liberty of Britain is gone for ever when these attempts shall succeed.

 
David Hume
 

This 'liberty' is not a series of isolated points pricked out in terms of the taking of property; the freedom of speech, press, and religion; the right to keep and bear arms; the freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures; and so on. It is a rational continuum which, broadly speaking, includes a freedom from all substantial arbitrary impositions and purposeless restraints.

 
John Marshall Harlan
 

Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost.

 
Thomas Jefferson
 

Liberty is more precious than money or office; and we should be vigilant lest we purchase wealth or place at the price of inner freedom.

 
John Lancaster Spalding
 

We can and must deter terror; we can and must conduct surveillance; we can and must find terror cells and plotters; and we need to fight them aggressively in the battlefield abroad and prosecute them carefully under the law if they are citizens at home. But the zeal and arrogance of Bush and Cheney have done this at the expense of the heart and soul of Western jurisprudence and constitutional liberty. They must not get away with it. Our inheritance is too precious to squander in a fit of panic, sadism and hubris.

 
Andrew Sullivan
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