The Supreme Court The Supreme Court - Image of hands holding a gavel.
Check local listings
Home Timeline Games Supreme Court History
Law, Power & Personality
Supreme Inspiration
E-Mail this Page Glossary

Seeking Insights in the Great BooksSeeking Insights in the Great Books
The Bible Poetry Greeks & Romans Literature Philosophy Shakespeare Scientists, Futurists & Economists

Self Incrimination
"The Bible tells us Daniel was saved by a miracle, but when this court says its final word in this case today, we cannot expect a miracle to save petitioner Turner."
Black on Book of Daniel
1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8


United States
Self Incrimination

Justice Black Dissent
January 20, 1970
Seal Of The Supreme Court

Commercial traffic in deadly mind, soul, and body-destroying drugs is beyond doubt one of the greatest evils of our time. It cripples intellects, dwarfs bodies, paralyzes the progress of a substantial segment of our society, and frequently makes hopeless and sometimes violent and murderous criminals of persons of all ages who become its victims. Such consequences call for the most vigorous laws to suppress the traffic as well as the most powerful efforts to put these vigorous laws into effect. Unfortunately, grave evils such as the narcotics traffic can too easily cause threats to our basic liberties by making attractive the adoption of constitutionally forbidden shortcuts that might suppress and blot out more quickly the unpopular and dangerous conduct. That is exactly the course I think the Court is sanctioning today.

...It is little less then fantastic even to imagine that those who wrote our Constitution and the Bill of Rights intended to have a government that could create crimes of several separate and independent parts and then relieve the government of proving a portion of them. Of course, within certain broad limits it is not necessary for Congress to define a crime to include any particular set of elements. But if it does, constitutional due process requires the government to prove each element beyond a reasonable doubt before it can convict the accused of the crime it deliberately and clearly defined. Turner's trial therefore reminds me more of Daniel being cast into the lion's den than it does of a constitutional proceeding. The Bible tells us Daniel was saved by a miracle, but when this court says its final word in this case today, we cannot expect a miracle to save petitioner Turner.

Text excerpt:

The Holy Bible
The Holy Bible
The Bible
Book of Daniel

16 Then the king commanded, and they brought Daniel, and cast him into the den of lions. Now the king spake and said unto Daniel, Thy God whom thou servest continually, he will deliver thee.

17 And a stone was brought, and laid upon the mouth of the den; and the king sealed it with his own signet, and with the signet of his lords; that the purpose might not be changed concerning Daniel.

18 Then the king went to his palace, and passed the night fasting: neither were instruments of musick brought before him: and his sleep went from him.

19 Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions.

20 And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?

21 Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live for ever.

22 My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions' mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.