„In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions.
In the absence of these safeguards the phrase 'equality before the law', in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading.“

—  Nelson Mandela, Context: In its proper meaning equality before the law means the right to participate in the making of the laws by which one is governed, a constitution which guarantees democratic rights to all sections of the population, the right to approach the court for protection or relief in the case of the violation of rights guaranteed in the constitution, and the right to take part in the administration of justice as judges, magistrates, attorneys-general, law advisers and similar positions. In the absence of these safeguards the phrase 'equality before the law', in so far as it is intended to apply to us, is meaningless and misleading. All the rights and privileges to which I have referred are monopolized by whites, and we enjoy none of them. The white man makes all the laws, he drags us before his courts and accuses us, and he sits in judgement over us.
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Nelson Mandela47
1918 - 2013
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„Equal laws protecting equal rights…the best guarantee of loyalty and love of country.“

—  James Madison 4th president of the United States (1809 to 1817) 1751 - 1836
Context: Equal laws protecting equal rights, are found as they ought to be presumed, the best guarantee of loyalty, and love of country; as well as best calculated to cherish that mutual respect and good will among citizens of every religious denomination which are necessary to social harmony and most favorable to the advancement of truth. Context: Among the features peculiar to the political system of the United States is the perfect equality of rights which it secures to every religious sect. And it is particularly pleasing to observe in the good citizenship of such as have been most distrusted and oppressed elsewhere, a happy illustration of the safety and success of this experiment of a just and benignant policy. Equal laws protecting equal rights, are found as they ought to be presumed, the best guarantee of loyalty, and love of country; as well as best calculated to cherish that mutual respect and good will among citizens of every religious denomination which are necessary to social harmony and most favorable to the advancement of truth. Letter to Jacob De La Motta (August 1820), Manuscript Division, Papers of James Madison http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/loc/madison.html

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„All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression.“

—  Thomas Jefferson 3rd President of the United States of America 1743 - 1826
Context: All, too, will bear in mind this sacred principle, that though the will of the majority is in all cases to prevail, that will to be rightful must be reasonable; that the minority possess their equal rights, which equal law must protect, and to violate would be oppression. Let us, then, fellow-citizens, unite with one heart and one mind. Let us restore to social intercourse that harmony and affection without which liberty and even life itself are but dreary things.

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„Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law.“

—  John Marshall Harlan United States Union Army officer and Supreme Court Associate Justice 1833 - 1911
Context: In view of the constitution, in the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens. There is no caste here. Our Constitution is color-blind, and neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens. In respect of civil rights, all citizens are equal before the law. The humblest is the peer of the most powerful. The law regards man as man, and takes no account of his surroundings or of his color when his civil rights as guaranteed by the supreme law of the land are involved.

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„Justice is the constitution or fundamental law of the moral universe, the law of right, a rule of conduct for man in all his moral relations.“

—  Theodore Parker abolitionist 1810 - 1860
Context: Justice is the constitution or fundamental law of the moral universe, the law of right, a rule of conduct for man in all his moral relations. Accordingly all human affairs must be subject to that as the law paramount; what is right agrees therewith and stands, what is wrong conflicts and falls. Private cohesions of self-love, of friendship, or of patriotism, must all be subordinate to this universal gravitation towards the eternal right.

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„Wherever the government goes, the Constitution goes, and wherever the Constitution goes, the protections that it guarantees restrain the government and requires it to protect those rights.“

—  Andrew P. Napolitano American judge and syndicated columnist 1950
Context: The Constitution applies to persons, not just citizens. If you read the Constitution, its protections are not limited to Americans. And that was written intentionally, because at the time it was written, they didn't know what Native Americans would be. When the post civil war amendments were added, they didn't know how blacks would be considered, because they had a decision of the Supreme Court called Dred Scott, that said blacks are not persons. So in order to make sure the Constitution protected every human being: American, alien; citizen, non-citizen; lawful combatant, enemy combatant; innocent, guilty; those who wish us well, those who wish us ill... they use the broadest possible language, to make it clear: Wherever the government goes, the Constitution goes, and wherever the Constitution goes, the protections that it guarantees restrain the government and requires it to protect those rights. Judge Napolitano on Hannity and Colmes http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bejmEG_t9mI, discussing the Supreme Court rulings on the scope of the protections in the Constitution.

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„For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions.“

—  Marcus Tullius Cicero Roman philosopher and statesman -106 - -43 a.C.
Context: For there is but one essential justice which cements society, and one law which establishes this justice. This law is right reason, which is the true rule of all commandments and prohibitions. Whoever neglects this law, whether written or unwritten, is necessarily unjust and wicked. Book I, section 42; Translation by C.D. Yonge)

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„Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect, and protect us as equal before the law“

—  Clarence Thomas Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States 1948
Context: [I disagree] that there is a racial paternalism exception to the principle of equal protection. I believe that there is a 'moral [and] constitutional equivalence,' between laws designed to subjugate a race and those that distribute benefits on the basis of race in order to foster some current notion of equality. Government cannot make us equal; it can only recognize, respect, and protect us as equal before the law. Concurring in Adarand v. Pena, 515 U.S. 200 http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=US&vol=000&invol=U10252&friend=oyez (1995).

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