Law Quotes

It doesn’t matter how many laws there are if the lawyers are liars.

There’s only one reason for the law: to protect property.

Becoming Jane

Law is the enemy of liberty.

Law has to be believed in or it will not work.

Harold J. Berman

The law is “there” to protect us: the way a chicken coop is there to protect the chickens: not only from getting eaten by the wrong fox, but from finding the freedom of the natural world.

We need to overcome the reduction of law to a set of technical devices for getting things done.

Harold J. Berman

Kleptocrats love the law (in quite the same way — and to the same extent — and for the same reasons) as the magician loves his trick deck.

Rules have meaning only in the context of institutions and procedures, values, and ways of thought.

Harold J. Berman

The function of law is to protect the successful thefts of the past from present ambition.

The sources of law include not only the will of the lawmaker but also the reason and conscience of the community and its customs and usages.

Harold J. Berman

It would be nice if the law studied science: just enough to perhaps learn a little honesty. (And how about a little humility?)

A hundred-headed monster, the law

Max Brand

If the law is not capable of modeling reality, then what right do upholders of such law have to survive?

A man like that doesn’t deserve civil rights.

Cape Fear

Humans are not competent to write laws; but incompetence doesn’t deter us.

Either we have too many laws or not enough.

Cape Fear

Truth is barred from the bar.

What philosopher, wanting to discover truth, would consult with a lawyer? or pollute himself near a courtroom?)

The higher law dwells within man; the lower serves as a cage to confine him.


Bateson’s argument that reason never proves anything will not be admitted by the court. No, the court conducts itself only by old, long-falsified fallacies, by long-discredited certainties

The law: malicious, not judicious


Law and Order: synonym for state terror

Laws are the leading preventable cause of crime: hence, one suspects, the term “criminal law.”


A principal purpose of law is to make the sheep hold still
while they’re being fleeced.

It doesn’t have to make sense; it’s the law.


Real laws cannot be violated.
Nature’s laws are enough.

I shit on the law. The law won’t help you.

The Coffee Trader

Law is the means by which governments cheat on behalf of their friends.

In your efforts to see me punished by the law, you have placed me beyond the law.

A Spectacle of Corruption

Knowing a nations laws is essential to knowing the nation in exactly the same way and to the same extent that knowing bleach and lipstick are essential to understanding Hollywood and Marilyn Monroe.

Let me rephrase that: The ethics of a nation are reflected in its laws about as well as the Inquisition represented the ethos of Jesus.

In other words, you can only hang me once.
[Is this an orphan? I don’t know what happened here.]

The wheels of ineffectual justice

A Conspiracy of Paper

If scientific law and nature’s law and God’s law are not one and the same then is there something wrong with science? or nature? or God? or the society which has such concepts?

The truth? I thought we were talking about a court of law. Come on, you’ve been around long enough to know that a court room is not the place to look for truth. …
If you’re really looking for the truth … look for it where it is: at the bottom … of a bottomless pit.

Head Attorney for the Beatrice conglomerate
in A Civil Action
(Robert Duvall to John Travolta)

The law has power: political. Power gets abused. That’s the nature of power. That’s the nature of the law.

All witnesses for the Prosecution have full immunity to commit perjury, without fear of being prosecuted.

David Chapman

I don’t believe in law not because I want lawlessness to win; I don’t believe in law because I believe lawlessness has already won.

Necessity knows no law.

Alexandre Dumas

What would anyone who’s put up with law school know about reality?

Attorneys always had to get in the last word; it was why people hated them so much.

Grift Sense

The appearance of law must be maintained, especially when it’s being broken.

Boss Tweed, Gangs of New York

The law’s delay


The law will follow the money.


What it amounts to, in English, is that the tenant has no rights that can be successfully defended in court, and the landlord has no duties on which he cannot, quite safely, default.


The law thinks money will compensate for loss.

The Last Kingdom

Hey, it’s just-US!

Minorities’ Joke

We are a nation not of laws but of lawyers.

Michael Melcher

Tony was a lawyer, so you had to accept the fact he was opinionated and full of shit.

Elmore Leonard, Mr. Paradise

The state is the organization of robbery writ large.

Mises Institute

You mean every time a lawyer takes money, then the right thing gets done?

Qiu Ju

The law is the real source of the state’s power. Strip away its flattering pretenses and you’ll find only raw, brutal force.

Privately Produced Law, Anonymous

Crimes serve nature.

Marquis de Sade

Laws do not persuade just because they threaten.



Sims v Aherns, 271 S.W. 720, 919250

The State calls its own violence law, but that of the individual crime.

Max Stirner

Where there is law there is injustice.


Judge: Are you showing contemtempt for this court?
Mae West: I was trying my best to conceal it.

Maybe nothing short of jail is disqualifying for certain men in certain circles.

Why Powerful Men Behave Badly

99% of lawyers give the rest a bad name.

Steven Wright

The United States is a nation of laws, badly written and randomly enforced.

Frank Zappa

Ivan Illich said that we must recover law. pk adds (reflecting Berman) that law is a becoming, a process. (pk says further: If the process is a spectrum, and that spectrum is infinite, then we are as far from being lawful as we are from being lawless. (We’re perpetually in the vast middle).)

We must reject human laws, but discover and fight for human principles.

Whom does the law serve?
The rulers? (the owners?)
Or the herd? (the people?)

The law’s traditional presumption of innocence for the citizen need not be reversible: government may be presumed guilty, bureaucrats may be presumed guilty.

Like all institutions of kleptocracy, from school to court, the law is designed so that all information is managed: the way stage illusions are managed by the magician. No testimony, no evidence, reaches a jury till it’s been handled, filtered through, maybe tweaked by … why, the magicians’s assistants: the lawyers.

Who should care what verdict kangaroos arrive at?

It doesn’t matter what the scale reads if the scale is false.

The law is so that people who don’t understand what the thinker has said supervise how he says it in court.


In Dickens’ Oliver Twist the judge tells the beadle that the law assumes that he has control of his wife.
If that’s what the law assumes, then the worst that I have to say for the law is that I hope the law learns by h’experience!In John D. MacDonald’ Condominium a partner in a law firm finally explains to the firm’s single honest lawyer that he’s been kept around as window dressing, a loss-leader, as lagniappe. He, the honest lawyer, will never be made a partner, will never get near an important case! Further pk emphasizes that the same profile fits many an institution (read perhaps any institution). The school may keep a real thinker, a true scientist, an imaginative cosmologist, a genuine poet on hand, may pat him on the head occasionally. But only by the extremest accident will the thinker and power come into conjunction.
Not to worry though: institutions, nations, like individuals, species … whole orders, don’t last. Bad structures (like good) are temporary: and change is undesignable.

2005 08 14 Using Nixon as the prototype kleptocratic lawyer:
It doesn’t matter how many lawyers are honest so long as it’s a Nixon who supervises who graduates, who’s hired, who’s promoted, fired … who’s approved by History
The history of course written by Nixon.
That’s why the new culture must burn Nixon’s history, hire its own archivist: another Nixon.Notes

Just-US: You want to know how kleptocratic the kleptocracy is? Count its jails. You want to ID the minorities? See who’s in the jails. In the US any black can say, “Hey, it’s just us.”

Old Note:
For starters I intend to add a couple of quotes about the law not yet published at Then I’ll repeat the quotes already present in this section here in this one place. Over time I’ll gather other such quotes from around and from the rest of literature as I stumble upon them. Alas, half a century has passed in which I might have been doing this: from Dickens, from Jonathan Swift, from John Gay … to name only Englishmen. What profession has been more satirized, longer, than the law?Naturally some of these could as well go into my truth section, my epistemology section …



About pk

Seems to me that some modicum of honesty is requisite to intelligence. If we look in the mirror and see not kleptocrats but Christians, we’re still in the same old trouble.
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