This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
The Supreme Court The Supreme Court - Image of hands holding a gavel.
Check local listings
Home Timeline Games Supreme Court History
Law, Power & Personality
Supreme Inspiration
E-Mail this Page Glossary

Seeking Insights in the Great BooksSeeking Insights in the Great Books
The Bible Poetry Greeks & Romans Literature Philosophy Shakespeare Scientists, Futurists & Economists

Communism, Subversive Activities
"And if it is round, will the king's command flatten it? No, I will not sign."
Thomas More
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10
11 | 12 | 13 | 14


Florida Legislative Investigation Committee
Subversive Activities

Justice Douglas Concurrence
March 25, 1963
Seal Of The Supreme Court

We deal here with the authority of a state to investigate people, their ideas, their activities. By virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment the state is now subject to the same restrictions in making the investigation as the First Amendment places on the federal government.

...Once the investigator has only the conscience of government as a guide, the conscience can become "ravenous," as Cromwell, bent on destroying Thomas More, said in Bolt, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS. The First Amendment mirrors many episodes where men, harried and harassed by government, sought refuge in their conscience, as these lines of Thomas More show:

More: And when we stand before God, and you are sent to paradise for doing according to your conscience, and I am damned for not doing according to mine, will you come with me, for fellowship?

Cranmer: So those of us whose names are there are damned, Sir Thomas?

More: I don't know, your grace. I have no window to look into another man's conscience. I condemn no one.

Cranmer: Then the matter is capable of question?

More: Certainly.

Cranmer: But that you owe obedience to your king is not capable of question. So weigh a doubt against a certainty — and sign.

More: Some men think the earth is round, other think it flat; it is a matter capable of question. But if it is flat, will the king's command make it round? And if it is round, will the king's command flatten it? No, I will not sign.

Where government is the big brother, privacy gives way to surveillance.