It is their mores, then, that make the Americans of the United States...capable of maintaining the rule of democracy.... Too much importance is attached to laws and too little to mores.... I am convinced that the luckiest of geographical circumstances and the best of laws cannot maintain a constitution in spite of mores, whereas the latter can turn even the most unfavorable circumstances...to advantage.... If I have not succeeded in making the reader feel the importance I attach to the practical experience of the Americans, to their habits, laws, and, in a word, their mores, I have failed in the main object of my work. -Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in American
I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of Constitutional power.
Revealingly, the central function of the Constitution as law--the supreme law--was to impose limitations not on the behavior of ordinary citizens but on the federal government. The government, and those who ran it, were not placed outside the law, but expressly targeted by it. Indeed, the Bill of Rights is little more than a description of the lines that the most powerful political officials are barred from crossing, even if they have the power to do so and even when the majority of citizens might wish them to do so.
The reason the founders chafed at the idea of an American standing army and vested the power of war making in the cumbersome legislature was not to disadvantage us against future enemies, but to disincline us toward war as a general matter... With citizen-soldiers, with the certainty of a vigorous political debate over the use of a military subject to politicians' control, the idea was for us to feel it- uncomfortably- every second we were at war. But after a generation or two of shedding the deliberate political encumbrances to war that they left us... war making has become almost an autonomous function of the American state. It never stops.
And it is undeniably true that the greatest and most important right of a British subject is that he shall be governed by no laws but those to which he, either in person or by his representatives, hath given his consent; and this, I will venture to assert, is the great basis of British freedom; it is interwoven with the Constitution, and whenever this is lost, the Constitution must be destroyed.
On the 26th of January 1950, we are going to enter into a life of contradictions. In politics we will have equality and in social and economic life we will have inequality.In politics we will be recognizing the principle of one man one vote and one vote one value.In our social and economic life, we shall, by reason of our social and economic structure, continue to deny the principle of one man one value.How long shall we continue to live this life of contradictions? How long shall we continue to deny equality in our social and economic life? If we continue to deny it for long, we will do so only by putting our political democracy in peril. We must remove this contradiction at the earliest possible moment or else those who suffer from inequality will blow up the structure of political democracy which this Assembly has so laboriously built up.
Today, no less than five Supreme Court justices are on record, either through their opinions or speeches (or both), that they will consult foreign law and foreign-court rulings for guidance in certain circumstances. Of course, policymakers are free to consult whatever they want, but not justices. They're limited to the Constitution and the law.