Quotes

Some Governing Principles Never Change…Over 175 years ago the preeminent observer of American democracy, Alex de Tocqueville wrote:

“It is indeed difficult to imagine how men who have entirely renounced the habit of managing their own affairs could be successful in choosing those who ought to lead them. It is impossible to believe that a liberal, energetic and wise government can ever emerge from the ballots of a nation of servants.

The possibility of a constitution’s being republican in its head and ultra-monarchical in all of its other parts has always struck me as an ephemeral monster. The vices of those who govern and the imbecility of the governed would quickly bring about its ruin, and the people, tired of their representatives and of themselves, would either create freer institutions or soon return to prostrating themselves at the feet of a single master.”

– Alex de Tocqueville – Democracy in America, The Library of America, copyright 2004 [The writings of Alex de Tocqueville, 1835-1840]

So who are we, my fellow Americans? Have we become the “imbeciles,” the “nation of servants?” Or are we ready to take back “the managing of our own affairs?”  Our children and grandchildren need to know.

Click here to read Terry L. Anderson’s  quotes on Sovereign Nations or Reservations: An Economic History of American Indians

“There is not a liberal America and a conservative America – there is the United States of America. There is not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America.”
Barack Obama

“Distinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious to a free people, and therefore are contrary to our traditions and hence constitutionally suspect.”
US Supreme Court decision in Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin, June 24, 2013

“[W]here there is no law, there is no liberty; and nothing deserves the name of law but that which is certain and universal in its operation upon all the members of the community.
– Benjamin Rush, letter to David Ramsay, 1788

“We must scrupulously guard the civil rights and civil liberties of all our citizens, whatever their background. We must remember that any oppression, any injustice, any hatred, is a wedge designed to attack our civilization.”
Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s greeting to the American Committee for the Protection of the Foreign-born, January 9, 1940

“You cannot become thorough Americans if you think of yourselves in groups. America does not consist of groups. A man who thinks of himself as belonging to a particular national group in America has not yet become an American.”
Woodrow Wilson; speech, May 10, 1915 ; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

“History affords us many instances of the ruin of states, by the prosecution of measures ill suited to the temper and genius of their people. The ordaining of laws in favor of one part of the nation, to the prejudice and oppression of another, is certainly the most erroneous and mistaken policy. An equal dispensation of protection, rights, privileges, and advantages, is what every part is entitled to, and ought to enjoy… These measures never fail to create great and violent jealousies and animosities between the people favored and the people oppressed; whence a total separation of affections, interests, political obligations, and all manner of connections, by which the whole state is weakened.”
– Benjamin Franklin, Emblematical Representations

“In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man’s becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American…There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile…We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language…and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people.”
– Theodore Roosevelt, 1907

“In its main features the Declaration of Independence is a spiritual document. It is a declaration not of material but spiritual conceptions. Equality, liberty, popular sovereignty, the rights of man—these are not elements which we can see and touch. They are ideals. They have their source and their roots in religious convictions. They belong to the unseen world. Unless the faith of the American people in these religious convictions is to endure, the principles of our Declaration will perish. We cannot continue to enjoy the result if we neglect and abandon the cause. If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth and their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction cannot lay claim to progress.”
Calvin Coolidge

“Distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary and invidious that a state bound to defend the equal protection of the laws must not invoke them in any public sphere”
Thurgood Marshall (the NAACP’s brief, written by in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education desegregation case).

“The accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny.”
James Madison

“Federal Indian policy is, to say the least, schizophrenic. And this confusion continues to infuse federal Indian law and our cases.”
– Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas (Concurring opinion in United States v Lara (03-107) 541 U.S. 193 (2004)

And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.
– The Bible, Acts 17:26 (King James Version)

American Ideals Violated

“This holding is consistent with other judicial decisions finding the Constitution inapplicable to Indian tribes, Indian courts and Indians on the reservation.”
– Tom v. Sutton; 533 F.2d 1101, 1102-03 (9th Cir.1976)

“In no other area of constitutional law does there exist a doctrine recognizing the preservation of cultural autonomy as a justification for limiting individual civil rights.”
– Kenneth W. Johnson, Sovereignty, Citizenship and the Indian, 15 Arizona Law Review, n. 36, 980 (1973)

Reservation Realities

“The greatest injustice the federal government has imposed on Indian people during the 20th century is to make us citizens, but deny us most of the basic rights of citizenship…

“Democracy is not simply the existence of free and fair elections, which I would argue often do not exist in tribal elections. Democracy is also defined by limiting the power of the government by such things as the rule of law, separation of powers, checks on the power of each branch of government, equality under the law, impartial courts, due process, and protection of the basic liberties of speech, assembly, press, and property. These do not exist on Indian reservations…

“James Madison, a founding father and signer of the U.S. Constitution, said that government with no separation of powers and no checks and balances is the very definition of tyranny. That is what we have on America’s Indian reservations…

“Let it be said right now that sovereign immunity has nothing to do with Indian culture or tradition. It is a concept that developed in the Roman empire and was used by European monarchs to protect them from challenge or criticism. Tribal sovereign immunity has essentially told a generation of tribal leaders that once they are in office they are above the law and can do whatever they please. The only culture that tribal sovereign immunity is protecting is a culture of corruption, denial of rights, and unaccountability.”

“In closing, I would like to quote a great American, the late Dr. Martin Luther King. He said, ‘Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”
– Oral testimony of William J. Lawrence, J.D.; publisher of the Native American Press/Ojibwe News, former BIA official, and member of the Red Lake Band of Chippewa Indians; given to the U. S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in Seattle, Washington on April 7, 1998.

The Fourteenth Amendment

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
– The Constitution of the United States of America – Amendment XIV, Section 1 (1868)

“This Court has consistently held that Congress may not authorize the States to violate the Fourteenth Amendment. Moreover, the protection afforded to a citizen by that Amendment’s Citizenship Clause limits the powers of the National Government as well as the States. Congress’ Article I powers to legislate are limited not only by the scope of the Framers’ affirmative delegation, but also by the principle that the powers may not be exercised in a way that violates other specific provisions of the Constitution.”
– Saenz v. Roe; 000 U.S. 98-97 (1999)

“[d]istinctions between citizens solely because of their ancestry are by their very nature odious,”… “[A] free people whose institutions are founded upon the doctrine of equality, …, should tolerate no retreat from the principle that government may treat people differently because of their race only for the most compelling reasons. Accordingly, we hold today that all racial classifications, imposed by whatever federal, state, or local governmental actor, must be…analyzed by a reviewing court under strict scrutiny. In other words, such classifications are constitutional only if they are narrowly tailored measures that further compelling governmental interests”….“Racial classifications are simply too pernicious to permit any but the most exact connection between justification and classification”…“the Constitution imposes upon federal, state, and local governmental actors the same obligation to respect the personal right to equal protection of the laws.”
– Adarand Constuctors, Inc. v. Pena 000 U.S. U10252 (1995)

“The fourteenth amendment to the constitution is not confined to the protection of citizens. It says: ‘Nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.’ These provisions are universal in their application, to all persons within the territorial jurisdiction, without regard to any differences of race, of color, or of nationality; and the equal protection of the laws is a pledge of the protection of equal laws….that ‘all persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall have the same right, in every state and territory,…Sovereignty itself is, of course, not subject to law, for it is the author and source of law; but in our system, while sovereign powers are delegated to the agencies of government, sovereignty itself remains with the people, by whom and for whom all government exists and acts.”
– Yick Wo v. Hopkins, 118 U.S. 356 (1886)

Chief Joseph’s Request

“If the white man wants to live in peace with the Indian he can live in peace. There need be no trouble. Treat all men alike. Give them the same law. Give them all an even chance to live and grow…all people should have equal rights…I have asked some of the great white chiefs where they get their authority…They can not tell me.I only ask of the government to be treated as all other men are treated…We ask that the same law shall work alike on all men…with one sky above us and one country around us, and one government for all….that all people may be one people.”
– Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, January 14, 1879

“Any argument that American Indians are different from the rest of us and therefore, are sovereign or quasi-sovereign, and reside on sovereign or foreign land, is put to rest by our actual treatment of them, and by the fact that in 1924 by the Citizenship Act, we conferred full U.S. citizenship on American Indians. We are individual citizens of a state that is part of a highly organized federation of states, comprising one indivisible sovereign, the United States of America. …Why here, are we tolerating segregating out the American Indians by race and allowing them to maintain a parallel court system and further, subjecting non-Indians to it? To me, this is red apartheid. I believe this entire issue of ‘sovereignty’ rests on true red apartheid.”
– Judge R. A. (Jim) Randall, Minnesota State Court of Appeals, from Sylvia COHEN, Appellant, v. LITTLE SIX, INC., d/b/a Mystic Lake Casino, Respondent. No. C6-95-928 – Feb. 13, 1996.

“With respect to the questions of who has jurisdiction over whom, I firmly believe, and have so stated that Congress, and not the states or the tribes, must assume responsibility for creating these jurisdictional problems. Congress has had more than an entire century to resolve Indian jurisdictional issues and has not done so. Congress has been assisted by the plodding, inconsistent, and largely impotent attempts of various courts, mostly federal, to fill the void left by Congress, and the result has been that they have left both tribal members and non-members in a state of constant uncertainty and acrimony. It is a preposterous situation that strains the fabric of our mutual existence sometimes to the near breaking point. At best, it is a product of benign neglect. At worst, it is an unacceptable denial of responsibility.”
– Montana Governor Marc Racicot, Speech given September 4, 1997

“Our Constitution is color-blind and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens.”
– Supreme Court Justice John Harlan, in his lone dissent in Plessy v. Ferguson

“The ability of nonmembers to know where tribal jurisdiction begins and ends, it should be stressed, is a matter of real, practical consequence … “
– Nevada v. Hicks, 533 U.S. 353, 383 (2001) (Souter, J. concurring).

“Since the civil war, until now, there has been no locality in this country with a first class of citizens and a second class, the members of which are obliged to pay taxes to support a government which, by law, serves and represents only citizens of the first class.”
– Eric Richter, Esq., Seattle, WA – Legal Counsel for Citizens Standup! Committee