Civil Disobedience Quotes

While the State may respectfully require obedience on many matters, it cannot violate the moral nature of a man, convert him into a serviceable criminal, and expect his loyalty and devotion.

I will have no laws. I will acknowledge none. I protest against every law which an authority calling itself necessary imposes upon my free will.

The right to defy an unconstitutional statute is basic in our scheme. Even when an ordinance requires a permit to make a speech, to deliver a sermon, to picket, to parade, or to assemble, it need not be honored when it is invalid on its face.

Must the citizen ever for a moment, or in the least degree, resign his conscience to the legislator? I think that we should be men first, and subjects afterward.

The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.

Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison.

Unjust laws exist; shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey them until we have succeeded, or shall we transgress them at once? Men generally, under such a government as this, think that they ought to wait until they have persuaded the majority to alter them. They […]

If the injustice is part of the necessary friction of the machine of government let it go, let it go: perchance it will wear smooth, – certainly the machine will wear out. If the injustice has a spring, or a pulley, or a rope, or a crank, exclusively for itself, then perhaps you may consider […]

One can say categorically that there is no constitutional right of civil disobedience to a valid law.

Social protest and even civil disobedience serve the law’s need for growth.