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Hugo Black

Geburtstag: 27. Februar 1886
Todesdatum: 25. September 1971

Hugo LaFayette Black war ein US-amerikanischer Politiker und Jurist. Er saß von 1926 bis 1937 für den Bundesstaat Alabama im Senat der Vereinigten Staaten und war anschließend von 1937 bis 1971 Beisitzender Richter am Obersten Gerichtshof der Vereinigten Staaten. Häufig wird Black als einer der einflussreichsten Richter des 20. Jahrhunderts angesehen.

Er wurde von Präsident Franklin D. Roosevelt berufen. Seine Amtszeit, in welcher er vor allem für seine wörtliche Auslegung der Verfassung der Vereinigten Staaten bekannt war, war die viertlängste aller Richter am Obersten Gerichtshof der USA. Dauerhaft geprägt hat er die amerikanische Rechtsprechung mit der zu seinen Lebzeiten noch nicht vermittelbaren Auffassung, die gesamte Bill of Rights gelte auch für die Bundesstaaten der USA. Es ist bis heute schwierig, Hugo Black in ein politisches Spektrum einzuordnen. Während seine wörtliche Auslegung der Bill of Rights häufig zu starker Unterstützung der Bürgerrechte führte, lehnte er beispielsweise zeitlebens ein verfassungsmäßig verbrieftes Recht auf Privatsphäre ab.

Zitate Hugo Black

„The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security“

—  Hugo Black

Concurring in New York Times Co. v. United States, 403 U.S. 713 (1971).
Kontext: The word 'security' is a broad, vague generality whose contours should not be invoked to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment. The guarding of military and diplomatic secrets at the expense of informed representative government provides no real security ….

„I read "no law . . . abridging" to mean no law abridging.“

—  Hugo Black

Concurring opinion, Smith v. California, 361 U.S. 147 (1959).
Kontext: The First Amendment's language leaves no room for inference that abridgments of speech and press can be made just because they are slight. That Amendment provides, in simple words, that "Congress shall make no law... abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." I read "no law... abridging" to mean no law abridging.

„The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say -- that the people's religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office.“

—  Hugo Black

Writing for the court, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).
Kontext: Our Founders were no more willing to let the content of their prayers and their privilege of praying whenever they pleased be influenced by the ballot box than they were to let these vital matters of personal conscience depend upon the succession of monarchs. The First Amendment was added to the Constitution to stand as a guarantee that neither the power nor the prestige of the Federal Government would be used to control, support or influence the kinds of prayer the American people can say -- that the people's religions must not be subjected to the pressures of government for change each time a new political administration is elected to office. Under that Amendment's prohibition against governmental establishment of religion, as reinforced by the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment, government in this country, be it state or federal, is without power to prescribe by law any particular form of prayer which is to be used as an official prayer in carrying on any program of governmentally sponsored religious activity.

„The Establishment Clause, unlike the Free Exercise Clause, does not depend upon any showing of direct governmental compulsion and is violated by the enactment of laws which establish an official religion whether those laws operate directly to coerce nonobserving individuals or not. This is not to say, of course, that laws officially prescribing a particular form of religious worship do not involve coercion of such individuals. When the power, prestige and financial support of government is placed behind a particular religious belief, the indirect coercive pressure upon religious minorities to conform to the prevailing officially approved religion is plain. But the purposes underlying the Establishment Clause go much further than that. Its first and most immediate purpose rested on the belief that a union of government and religion tends to destroy government and to degrade religion. The history of governmentally established religion, both in England and in this country, showed that whenever government had allied itself with one particular form of religion, the inevitable result had been that it had incurred the hatred, disrespect and even contempt of those who held contrary beliefs. That same history showed that many people had lost their respect for any religion that had relied upon the support of government to spread its faith. The Establishment Clause thus stands as an expression of principle on the part of the Founders of our Constitution that religion is too personal, too sacred, too holy, to permit its "unhallowed perversion" by a civil magistrate. Another purpose of the Establishment Clause rested upon an awareness of the historical fact that governmentally established religions and religious persecutions go hand in hand. The Founders knew that only a few years after the Book of Common Prayer became the only accepted form of religious services in the established Church of England, an Act of Uniformity was passed to compel all Englishmen to attend those services and to make it a criminal offense to conduct or attend religious gatherings of any other kind-- a law which was consistently flouted by dissenting religious groups in England and which contributed to widespread persecutions of people like John Bunyan who persisted in holding "unlawful [religious] meetings... to the great disturbance and distraction of the good subjects of this kingdom...."“

—  Hugo Black

And they knew that similar persecutions had received the sanction of law in several of the colonies in this country soon after the establishment of official religions in those colonies. It was in large part to get completely away from this sort of systematic religious persecution that the Founders brought into being our Nation, our Constitution, and our Bill of Rights with its prohibition against any governmental establishment of religion.
Writing for the court, Engel v. Vitale, 370 U.S. 421 (1962).

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