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Posts Tagged ‘On The Administration Of Law’

Decency, security and liberty alike demand that government officials shall be subjected to the same rules of conduct that are commands to the citizen.  In a government of laws, existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously.  Our Government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher.  For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by its example.  Crime is contagious.  If the Government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.  To declare that in the administration of the criminal law the end justifies the means  —  to declare that the Government may commit crimes in order to secure the conviction of a private criminal  —  would bring terrible retribution.  Against that pernicious doctrine this Court should resolutely set its face.
    —    Olmstead v. United States
277 U.S. 438
Decided: 4 June 1928
(see Brandeis dissent for privacy)
http://www.law.cornell.edu/supremecourt/text/277/438
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