Justice Quotes


  • … the 20th century has been characterized by three developments of great political importance: The growth of democracy, the growth of corporate power, and the growth of corporate propaganda as a means of protecting corporate power against democracy.
    o Alex Carey, Australian social scientist; quoted by Noam Chomsky in World Orders Old and New

  • Justice of the world is in its creativity, in solving problems, in our activity and struggle. While I am alive there is the possibility to act, to strive for happiness, this is justice.
    o Simon Soloveychik, Parenting for Everyone (1989)

  • Sometimes there’s truth in old cliches. There can be no real peace without justice. And without resistance there will be no justice.
    o Arundhati Roy, “Peace?…: Speech on Accepting the Sydney Peace Prize”, ZNet, November 7, 2004

  • ‘There’s no justice.’
    Death sighed. No, he said…There’s just me.
    o Death in Mort by Terry Pratchett (1987)

  • They say, “Evil prevails when good men fail to act.” What they ought to say is, “Evil prevails.”
    o Yuri Orlov (Nicholas Cage), Lord of War (2005)

  • A just city should favour justice and the just, hate tyranny and injustice, and give them both their just desserts.
    o al-Farabi, quoted and translated by Gibb, H. et al. (eds.) (1991) ‘Mazalim’ in The Dictionary of Islam vol. IV Leiden: Brill

  • Fiat iustitia et pereat mundus.
    o Translation: Let justice be done, even should the world perish.
    o Personal motto of Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor (1503-1564)

  • [For such a one the Moral does not stand outside the scale of values which comprises all values of life…] His principle is not fiat iustitia, pereat mundus, (let justice be done, though the world perish), but fiat iustitia, ne pereat mundus (let justice be done, lest the world perish).
    o Ludwig von Mises (http://www.mises.org/books/socialism/part4_ch27.aspx)

  • Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
    o Martin Luther King Letter from a Birmingham Jail (1963)

  • “Why don’t you use some sense and try to be more like me? You might live to be a hundred and seven too.”
    “Because it’s better to die on one’s feet than live on one’s knees. I guess you’ve heard that saying before.”
    “Yes I certainly have,” mused the treacherous old man, smiling again. “But I’m afraid you have it backward. It is better to live on one’s feet than die on one’s knees. That is the way the saying goes.
    “Are you sure?” Nately asked with sober confusion. “It seems to make more sense my way.”
    “No, it makes more sense my way…”
    o Joseph Heller (1961) Catch-22 New York: Simon and Schuster

  • The care of human life and happiness, and not their destruction, is the first and only object of good government.
    o Thomas Jefferson (March 31, 1809) To the Republican Citizens of Washington County, Maryland

  • The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.
    o Variant: How noble the law, in its majestic equality, that both the rich and poor are equally prohibited from peeing in the streets, sleeping under bridges, and stealing bread!
    o Anatole France Le Lys Rouge (The Red Lily), ch. 7 (1894)

  • Laws change, depending on who’s making them, but justice is justice.
    o Odo ‘A Man Alone’ in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Season 1, Episode 4

  • The most effective way to restrict democracy is to transfer decision-making from the public arena to unaccountable institutions: kings and princes, priestly castes, military juntas, party dictatorships, or modern corporations.
    o Noam Chomsky Z Magazine, May 1998 [1]

  • Now my friends, I am opposed to the system of society in which we live today, not because I lack the natural equipment to do for myself, but because I am not satisfied to make myself comfortable knowing that there are thousands of my fellow men who suffer for the barest necessities of life. We were taught under the old ethic that man’s business on this earth was to look out for himself. That was the ethic of the jungle; the ethic of the wild beast. Take care of yourself, no matter what may become of your fellow man. Thousands of years ago the question was asked: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” That question has never yet been answered in a way that is satisfactory to civilized society.

    Yes, I am my brother’s keeper. I am under a moral obligation to him that is inspired, not by any maudlin sentimentality, but by the higher duty I owe to myself. What would you think of me if I were capable of seating myself at a table and gorging myself with food and saw about me the children of my fellow beings starving to death?
    o Eugene V. Debs The Issue, speech delivered at Girard, Kansas May 23, 1908 [2]

  • Peace is not an absence of war, it is a virtue, a state of mind, a disposition for benevolence, confidence, justice.
    o Baruch Spinoza Theological-Political treatise (1670)

  • Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.
    o Frederick Douglass Speech on the twenty-fourth anniversary of Emancipation in the District of Columbia, Washington, D.C. (April 1886)

  • Shalt thou reign, because thou closest thyself in cedar? Did not thy father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?
    o King James Bible Jeremiah 22:15

  • We have made you ruler in the land; so judge between men with justice and do not follow desire.
    o The Koran Suad 38:26

  • Justice and equity are therefore the same thing, and both are good, though equity is the better.
    o Aristotle (ca. 325 BC) Nichomachean Ethics 1137b:1

  • Perhaps they do [deserve to die] and perhaps he [Rand al’Thor] would. But men often mistake killing and revenge for justice. They seldom have the stomach for justice.
    o Nynaeve al’Meara (Robert Jordan) The Great Hunt ch 46 pg 379


    The Circle of Justice:
    The world is a garden for the state to master.
    The state is power supported by the law.
    The law is policy administered by the king.
    The king is a shepherd supported by the army.
    The army are assistants provided for by taxation.
    Taxation is sustenance gathered by subjects.
    Subjects are slaves provided for by justice.
    Justice is that by which the rectitude of the world subsists.

    From The Counsels of Alexander, presented to the Timurid prince Baysunghur (1495-1497). Translated and quoted in Lentz, T. and Lowry, G. (1989) Timur and the Princely Vision: Persian Art and Culture in the Fifteenth Century Washington: Smithsonian


  • ¡Prefiero morir de pie que vivir siempre arrodillado!
    o Translation: Better to die on your feet than live on your knees.
    o Emiliano Zapata
    o also popularized by Dolores Ibarruri in a radio broadcast in Spain 18 July 1936; it became a slogan in the Spanish Civil War [3]

  • The challenge of social justice is to evoke a sense of community that we need to make our nation a better place, just as we make it a safer place.
    o Marian Wright Edelman

  • Charity begins at home and justice begins next door.
    o Charles Dickens

  • Compassion is no substitute for justice.
    o Rush Limbaugh

  • Conscience is the chamber of justice.
    o Origen

  • Do not believe that you can possibly escape the reward of your action.
    o Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • Fiat justitia, ruat caelum.
    o Translation: Let justice be done, though the heavens may fall.
    o William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield

  • The good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life.
    o Jane Addams

  • The history of the world is the world’s court of justice.
    o Friedrich Von Schiller

  • I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops.
    o Stephen Jay Gould

  • I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.
    o Abraham Lincoln Attributed in Osborn Oldroyd (ed.) Lincoln Memorial (1882)

  • I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream — a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man’s skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality.
    o Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • If hard work were such a wonderful thing, surely the rich would have kept it all to themselves.
    o Lane Kirkland

  • If we’re going to end welfare, the rich should be the first to lose it.
    o Mac Morgan

  • It is the spirit and not the form of law that keeps justice alive.
    o Earl Warren

  • Justice is conscience, not a personal conscience but the conscience of the whole of humanity. Those who clearly recognize the voice of their own conscience usually recognize also the voice of justice.
    o Alexander Solzhenitsyn

  • Law and justice are not always the same. When they aren’t, destroying the law may be the first step toward changing it.
    o Gloria Steinem

  • Let the workers organize. Let the toilers assemble. Let their crystallized voice proclaim their injustices and demand their privileges. Let all thoughtful citizens sustain them, for the future of Labor is the future of America.
    o John L. Lewis

  • Liberty, equality — bad principles! The only true principle for humanity is justice; and justice to the feeble is protection and kindness.
    o Henri-Frédéric Amiel

  • Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being “drawn toward”. Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one’s friends and enemies. Love creates righteousness, or justice, here on earth. To make love is to make justice. As advocates and activists for justice know, loving involves struggle, resistance, risk. People working today on behalf of women, blacks, lesbians and gay men, the aging, the poor in this country and elsewhere know that making justice is not a warm, fuzzy experience. I think also that sexual lovers and good friends know that the most compelling relationships demand hard work, patience, and a willingness to endure tensions and anxiety in creating mutually empowering bonds.
    For this reason loving involves commitment. We are not automatic lovers of self, others, world, or God. Love does not just happen. We are not love machines, puppets on the strings of a deity called “love”. Love is a choice — not simply, or necessarily, a rational choice, but rather a willingness to be present to others without pretense or guile. Love is a conversion to humanity — a willingness to participate with others in the healing of a broken world and broken lives. Love is the choice to experience life as a member of the human family, a partner in the dance of life, rather than as an alien in the world or as a deity above the world, aloof and apart from human flesh.
    o Carter Heyward Passion for Justice

  • Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.
    o Aristotle

  • A mule will labor ten years willingly and patiently for you, for the privilege of kicking you once.
    o William Faulkner

  • Nor yet are they to be submitted to the mere men of the law; for these are necessarily trained to endeavor to make wrong appear right, or to involve both in a maze of intricacies, and to legalized injustice.
    o Robert Owen

  • Only the man who has enough good in him to feel the justice of the penalty can be punished; the others can only be hurt.
    o William Ernest Hocking

  • The sad duty of politics is to establish justice in a sinful world.
    o Jimmy Carter

  • That the poor are invisible is one of the most important things about them. They are not simply neglected and forgotten as in the old rhetoric of reform; what is much worse, they are not seen.
    o Michael Harrington

  • Thou shalt not be a victim. Thou shalt not be a perpetrator. Above all, thou shalt not be a bystander.
    o Holocaust Museum, Washington, DC

  • To eat bread without hope is still slowly to starve to death.
    o Pearl S. Buck

  • True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.
    o Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.
    o Paulo Freire

  • We cannot seek or attain health, wealth, learning, justice or kindness in general. Action is always specific, concrete, individualized, unique.
    o Benjamin Jowett

  • We ought always to deal justly, not only with those who are just to us, but likewise to those who endeavor to injure us; and this, for fear lest by rendering them evil for evil, we should fall into the same vice.
    o Hierocles

  • What I am proud of, what seems so simply clear, is that feminism is a way to fight for justice, always in short supply.
    o Barbara Strickland

  • When we talk about equal pay for equal work, women in the workplace are beginning to catch up. If we keep going at this current rate, we will achieve full equality in about 475 years. I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait that long.
    o Lya Sorano

  • When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
    o Eleanor Roosevelt

  • You condemn on hearsay evidence alone, your sins increase.
    o Anonymous

  • The aim of justice is, as the Romans used to say, to give each his due, and in order for each to be given what is his, it is necessary that it already belong to him; to “give”, in this sense, means to protect the right of possession. Each man gets “what belongs to him” in the course of voluntary exchanges that constitute the economic process, and, by virtue of the operation of the market, each receives for his contribution, precisely the amount that will impel him to increase the supply of the most urgently demanded commodities… Only when each man thereby gets what belongs to him, and someone wants to take it away from him, does a question of justice arise.
    o Faustino Ballve

  • It is never too late to repair an injustice.
    o Amir Afsai

  • This court is no respecter of wealth or other claims of immunity!
    o Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis

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