Alex Kozinski

Overprotecting intellectual property is as harmful as underprotecting it. Creativity is impossible without a rich public domain. Nothing today, likely nothing since we tamed fire, is genuinely new: Culture, like science and technology, grows by accretion, each new creator building on the works of those who came before. Overprotection stifles the very creative forces it’s supposed to nurture.

..The more heavily the government regulates the market, the more competition is impeded…

..For better or worse, we are the Court of Appeals for the Hollywood Circuit. Millions of people toil in the shadow of the law we make, and much of their livelihood is made possible by the existence of intellectual property rights. But much of their livelihood — and much of the vibrancy of our culture — also depends on the existence of other intangible rights: The right to draw ideas from a rich and varied public domain, and the right to mock, for profit as well as fun, the cultural icons of our time.

The First Amendment is really at the very core of political speech, and political speech is at the core of the First Amendment. So, we want to be very careful to make sure that candidates for office are free to express their views so that people will make an informed choice. We don’t want them holding back, and sort of concealing their views and then disclosing them afterwards.

The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed for those exceptionally rare circumstances where all other rights have failed — where the government refuses to stand for reelection and silences those who protest; where courts have lost the courage to oppose, or can find no one to enforce their decrees. However improbable these contingencies may seem today, facing them unprepared is a mistake a free people get to make only once.

My excellent colleagues have forgotten these bitter lessons of history. The prospect of tyranny may not grab the headlines the way vivid stories of gun crime usually do. But few saw the Third Reich coming until it was too late. The Second Amendment is a doomsday provision, one designed only for those exceptionally rare circumstances when all other rights have failed. A free people can only afford to make this mistake once.

The majority falls prey to the delusion–popular in some circles–that ordinary people are too careless and stupid to own guns, and we would be far better off leaving all weapons in the hands of professionals on the government payroll. But the simple truth–born of experience–is that tyranny thrives best where government need not fear the wrath of an armed people.

You wonder why anyone would make the mistake of calling it the Commerce Clause instead of the ‘Hey, you -can-do-whatever-you-feel-like Clause?

..This is really a pretty good system you have here. What do you call it? “Due process”. We’re very proud of it.

..Appellate review is not a magic wand and we undermine public confidence in the judicial process when we make it look like it is.

..In a very real sense, the Constitution is our compact with history — the Constitution can maintain that compact and serve as the lodestar of our political system only if its terms are binding on us. To the extent we depart from the document’s language and rely instead on generalities that we see written between the lines, we rob the Constitution of its binding force and give free reign to the fashions and passions of the day.

..It’s not that unusual for presidents to take strong positions on cases decided by the court. But you know, that’s why the Constitution wisely gave us life tenure. They can talk about us, but they can’t remove us.

Just to prove that even the silliest idea can be pursued to its illogical conclusion, Legal Realism spawned Critical Legal Studies.

I was born under Communism. I know what it’s like to live in a system where you can’t speak, you have to whisper. Where the state is so pervasive and so intrusive.

I think the use of lethal injection is the way of lying to ourselves, to make it look like executions are peaceful, are benign, are sort of like going to sleep, and they’re not. They’re brutal things.

..Most of us continue to believe that those who show utter contempt for human life by committing remorseless, premeditated murder justly forfeit the right to their own life.

..If we as a society are willing to take away human life, we should be willing to watch it.

..The death penalty is barbaric. And I think we as a society need to come face-to-face with that. If we’re not willing to face up to the cruelty, we ought not to be doing it.

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