There is no clearly perceivable line which enables us in every case to clearly determine how far society may go in limiting and directing individual conduct. It changes with the changing conditions of life. But there is a guide which, when kept clearly and constantly in view, sufficiently informs us what we should aim to do by legislation and what should be left to other agencies. This is what I have so often insisted upon as the sole function both of law and legislation, namely, to secure to each individual the utmost liberty which he can enjoy consistently with the preservation of the like liberty to all others. Liberty, the first of blessings, the aspiration of every human soul, is the supreme object. Every abridgment of it demands an excuse, and the only good excuse is the necessity of preserving it.
DBx: I disagree only with Carter’s claim that liberty is “the aspiration of every human soul.” Sadly, the world is full of human souls who aspire to no such thing. Many individuals wish to be ruled, to be commanded, to be treated from cradle to grave as if only their bodies, but never their minds and character, leave their cradles. A great achievement would be to discover and implement some form of government that would allow such people to be lorded over as they wish while leaving those of us who do treasure liberty to pursue it in the ways that I believe America’s founders envisioned it would, and should, be pursued.