Please disseminate widely, thank you! This does not give permission to alter or claim credit for this re-mixed work, for which I retain all copyrights. The original illustration is in the public domain. The text may be found in The Douglas Letters: Selections from the Private Papers of Justice William O. Douglas (1987). 1976 Letter to Young Lawyers Section of the Washington State Bar Association.
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William O. Douglas was arguably the most staunch defender of individual liberty who sat on the Supreme Court during the 20th Century. His words on the incremental nature of attempts at government oppression could not be better suited to the current debate over firearms.
He also penned these words:
"Big Brother in the form of an increasingly powerful government and in an increasingly powerful private sector will pile the records high with reasons why privacy should give way to national security, to law and order, to efficiency of operation, to scientific advancement and the like."
"The privacy and dignity of our citizens [are] being whittled away by sometimes imperceptible steps. Taken individually, each step may be of little consequence. But when viewed as a whole, there begins to emerge a society quite unlike any we have seen, a society in which government may intrude into the secret regions of a [personís] life."
A lifelong outdoorsman and conservationist, towards the end of his vaunted career, he wrote a notable dissent in which he argued that the remaining wild spaces, animals and plants, and indeed the Earth itself should have legal standing to sue in Federal court on environmental issues.