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Political Studies
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Additional Political Studies Flashcards




Amicus Curiae
"friend of the court";someone not a party to the litigation, but believes court's decision may affect its interest
writ of certiiaori
a common law writ issued by a superior court to one of inferior jurisdiction demanding the record of a particular case
stare decisis
legal phrase referring to the obligation of courts to honor past precedents; obligation that trial courts have to honor the precedents of higher courts
writ of habeas corpus
Writ used by the attorney of a detained person (detainee) to force the police to bring the detainee before a court so that the legality of his or her detention can be challenged.
The objective of this writ is to safeguard citizens against unjustified imprisonment.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
A local trial court in Mississippi cannot legally convict a person for flag desecration, for example, because a higher court--the U.S. Supreme Court--ruled that flag desecration is a form of constitutionally protected speech.
in forma pauperis
legal term used by the judge to allow somene who has to file a legal case or defend oneself in ongoing trial, and who has no money to fund the trials, to file a case or appoint a counsel free of cost or without paying majority of charges. Such waiver is done via an affidavit stating the inability to pay such charges.
FDR's court packing incident
FDR's attempt to expand the membership of the Supreme Court so that he could nominate justices who would uphold the constitutionality of New Deal legislation. The court‐packing struggle constitutes a critical episode in Roosevelt's presidency and one of the bitterest clashes between the judiciary and the executive in American history.
the president received a shock on the so‐called Black Monday, 27 May 1935, when the Court delivered three unanimous opinions that struck down key provisions of the New Deal recovery plan
the Court denied the president the power to replace members of independent regulatory agencies, thus thwarting his ability to bring the agencies in line with administration regulatory policies
"the switch in time that saved nine"
sudden shift by Justice Owen J. Roberts from the conservative wing of the Supreme Court to the liberal wing in the case West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish, 300 U.S. 379 (1937). Roberts joined Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, and Justices Louis Brandeis, Benjamin N. Cardozo, and Harlan Fiske Stone in upholding a Washington State minimum wage law.
judicial precedent
Judicial precedent is a legal case law establishing a principle or rule that a court or other judicial body may apply while deciding subsequent cases involving similar issues or facts. For instance, a published decision by a U.S. District Court clearly may serve as a judicial precedent that provides a "reasonable basis" for a taxpayer's treatment of its workers, even when the Internal Revenue Service disagrees with the decision.
The legally protectible stake or interest that an individual has in a dispute that entitles him to bring the controversy before the court to obtain judicial relief; is the name of the federal law doctrine that focuses on whether a prospective plaintiff can show that some personal legal interest has been invaded by the defendant. It is not enough that a person is merely interested as a member of the general public in the resolution of the dispute. The person must have a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy
majority, dissenting and concurring opinions
A dissenting opinion is an opinion written by a justice who disagrees with the majority opinion. In the US Supreme Court, any justice can write a dissenting opinion, and this can be signed by other justices. One of the most famous dissenting opinions in US Supreme Court history occurred when Justice John M. Harlan dissented to the Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) ruling. Another type of opinion that can be delivered is a concurring opinion, which can sometimes be seen as a dissenting opinion in disguise
judicial review
review by a court of law of actions of a government official or entity or of some other legally appointed person or body or the review by an appellate court of the decision of a trial court
14th Amendment-- due process clause (DPC); equal protection clause (EPC)
The constitutional guarantee of due process of law, found in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, prohibits all levels of government from arbitrarily or unfairly depriving individuals of their basic constitutional rights to life, liberty, and property;

The constitutional guarantee that no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws that is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and pursuit of happiness
Betts vs. Brady
(1942), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that denied counsel to indigent defendants when prosecuted by a state. It was overruled by Gideon v. Wainwright.

In a six to three decision, the Court found that Betts did not have the right to be appointed counsel with Justice Hugo Black emphatically dissenting. In the majority opinion, Justice Owen Roberts said for the Court,

"The Fourteenth Amendment prohibits the conviction and incarceration of one whose trial is offensive to the common and fundamental ideas of fairness and right, and while want of counsel in a particular case may result in a conviction lacking in such fundamental fairness, we cannot say that the amendment embodies an inexorable command that no trial for any offense, or in any court, can be fairly conducted and justice accorded a defendant who is not represented by counsel."
judicial discretion
is the power of the judiciary to make some legal decisions according to their discretion. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the ability of judges to exercise discretion is an aspect of judicial independence. Where appropriate, judicial discretion allows a judge to decide a legal case or matter within a range of possible decisions
juducial activism vs. judicial restraint
Judicial activism describes judicial ruling suspected of being based on personal or political considerations rather than on existing law, The definition of judicial activism, and which specific decisions are activist, is a controversial political issue, particularly in the United States. The question of judicial activism is closely related to constitutional interpretation, statutory construction, and separation of powers;
judicial restraint is a theory of judicial interpretation that encourages judges to limit the exercise of their own power. It asserts that judges should hesitate to strike down laws unless they are obviously unconstitutional.
jurisprudence of original intent vs. contemporary meaning
In the context of United States legal jurisprudence, both conservatives and liberals alike lay claim to some form of original intent whether manifest in a "written" or "living" constitution. The difference of opinion between conservative and liberal constitutional scholars is not over whether original intent should be used as a guide to interpretation. Instead, the conflict is over how much weight original intent should carry in the process of judicial decision-making. Consequently, the original intent controversy has been best expressed by two schools of constitutional hermeneutics known as "Originalism" and "Moderate Interpretivism."1
Roger B. Taney
DRED SCOTT---Taney denied to Free states the power of refusing obedience to federal statutes requiring the surrender of escaped slaves. is position on the slavery laws was most clearly expressed in the Dred Scott Case (1857). Here he held that slaves (and even the free descendants of slaves) were not citizens and may not sue in the federal courts. He also believed that Congress could not forbid slavery in the territories of the United States. He died in 1864
John Harlan
After the war Harlan attacked the Thirteenth Amendment which abolished slavery. However, after the emergence of racist organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan he changed his mind and became a supporter of the Radical Republicans and the Reconstruction Acts.;
In 1896 he was the only member of the Supreme Court who believed that segregation in railway cars was unconstitutional.;
In 1897 New York Legislature passed a law that set the hours of bakers at no more than ten hours a day or sixty a week. In 1905 the owner of a bakery was fined $50 for violating the law. He appealed to the Supreme Court and it voted 5-4 that the law was unconstitutional. Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes were two of those four justices who disagreed with the decision that was to hold back the passing of social welfare legislation.
Earl Warren
Although a Republican, Warren had broad bipartisan support because of his centrist to liberal views. He is the only person to have been elected to the governorship of California for three successive terms (in 1942, 1946, and 1950). In 1946, he was the only governor in our history to win an election unopposed, when he won the Democratic, Republican, and Progressive primaries.;

Among the Warren Court's most important decisions was the ruling that made racial segregation in public schools unconstitutional. Another was the "one-man one-vote" ruling that caused a major shift in legislative power from rural areas to cities.

Besides his work on the court, Warren headed the commission that investigated the assassination of President John F. Kennedy
Thurgood Marshall
t was Marshall who ended legal segregation in the United States. He won Supreme Court victories breaking the color line in housing, transportation and voting, all of which overturned the 'Separate-but-Equal' apartheid of American life in the first half of the century. It was Marshall who won the most important legal case of the century, Brown v. Board of Education, ending the legal separation of black and white children in public schools.
john black---possibly wrong i dont fucking know
As one of the representatives named by the provisional government to defend the interests of the Red River colony, Judge John Black was called to play a major role in the events of 1869-1870 which led to Manitoba's entry into Confederation
Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Ruth Bader Ginsburg is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. She was appointed by President Bill Clinton and took office in 1993, becoming only the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court
he favored limiting government spending, restoring the death penalty, and some selected feminist issues. Specifically, she voted for the Equal Rights Amendment and supported revisions in women's protective legislation (such as the maximum hours women were allowed to work), and favored enhanced property rights for women who owned property jointly with their husbands
most always agrees w reihnquest and burger
fine w abortion but conservative otherwise
Sonia Sotomayor
On Tuesday, May 26, 2009, President Obama nominated Sotomayor to the Supreme Court of the United States to fill the seat of the retiring David Souter;
Sotomayor is only the third woman to serve on the Supreme Court (after O'Connor and Ginsburg) and one of four current female Justices. Sotomayor has the distinction of serving as the first Hispanic Justice, which is believed to have been a consideration in her nomination
Marbury vs. Madison
First decision by the Supreme Court to declare a law unconstitutional (1803);
At the very end of his term, President John Adams had made many federal appointments, including William Marbury as justice of the peace in the District of Columbia.
Thomas Jefferson, the new president, refused to recognize the appointment of Marbury.
The normal practice of making such appointments was to deliver a "commission," or notice, of appointment. This was normally done by the Secretary of State. Jefferson's Secretary of State at the time was James Madison.
At the direction of Jefferson, Madison refused to deliver Marbury's commission. Marbury sued Madison, and the Supreme Court took the case.
Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that the Judiciary Act of 1789, which spelled out the practice of delivering such commissions for judges and justices of the peace, was unconstitutional because it the gave the Supreme Court authority that was denied it by Article III of the Constitution. Thus, the Supreme Court said, the Judiciary Act of 1789 was illegal and not to be followed.
Dred scott vs. Sandford
In March of 1857, the United States Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, declared that all blacks -- slaves as well as free -- were not and could never become citizens of the United States. The court also declared the 1820 Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, thus permiting slavery in all of the country's territories.

The case before the court was that of Dred Scott v. Sanford. Dred Scott, a slave who had lived in the free state of Illinois and the free territory of Wisconsin before moving back to the slave state of Missouri, had appealed to the Supreme Court in hopes of being granted his freedom.

Taney -- a staunch supporter of slavery and intent on protecting southerners from northern aggression -- wrote in the Court's majority opinion that, because Scott was black, he was not a citizen and therefore had no right to sue. The framers of the Constitution, he wrote, believed that blacks "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."

Referring to the language in the Declaration of Independence that includes the phrase, "all men are created equal," Taney reasoned that "it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . ."

Abolitionists were incensed. Although disappointed, Frederick Douglass, found a bright side to the decision and announced, "my hopes were never brighter than now." For Douglass, the decision would bring slavery to the attention of the nation and was a step toward slavery's ultimate destruction
Plessy vs. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson, case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. The court upheld an 1890 Louisiana statute mandating racially segregated but equal railroad carriages, ruling that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution dealt with political and not social equality. The case arose from resentment among black and Creole residents of New Orleans and was supported by the railroad companies, who felt it unnecessary to pay the cost of separate cars. Justice Henry Billings Brown wrote the majority opinion, stating that "separate but equal" laws did not imply the inferiority of one race to another. Justice John Harlan (1833–1911) dissented, arguing that the U.S. Constitution was color-blind. The decision provided constitutional sanction for the adoption throughout the South of a comprehensive series of Jim Crow laws, which were maintained until overruled in 1954 by Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kans. It had particular relevance to education, with Justice Brown drawing parallels between race segregation on trains and in educational facilities
Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad (1886)
A complicated tax case stemming from a California law that stated railroads could not deduct the value of their mortgages from the taxable value of their property, a right that was given to individuals. The Southern Pacific Railroad refused to pay the tax revenues involved, several California counties sued, and the case eventually wound its way to the Supreme Court. Although the court did not specifically rule on corporate personhood, a court clerk, who wrote a summary of the case for the legal community, stated that the ruling in favor of the railroad meant that the 14th Amendment — which forbids a state to deny equal protection to any person — also applied to corporations. This comment, almost a footnote, eventually took on the status of settled law. And as if corporations didn’t have enough clout already, this only served to increase, and further legitimize, their power.
Muller vs. Oregon
Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Muller (Petitioner), was found guilty of violating Oregon state statute that limited the length of the workday for women in laundry facilities.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The general right to contract is protected by the United States Constitution (Constitution), but this liberty is not absolute.

Facts. In 1903, Oregon passed a statute limiting the hours a woman can work to just 10 hours if she was employed in a laundry, factory or mechanical manufacturer. The reasoning for the law was, “the physical organization of women, her maternal functions, the rearing and education of children and the maintenance of the home.”

Issue. Is a state statute limiting the length of a woman’s workday constitutional?
Lochner vs. New York

Brief Fact Summary. A New York labor law required employees to work no more than sixty hours in one week.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The 1897 Labor Law limiting the hours that an employee in a biscuit, bread, or cake bakery or confectionery establishment may work is an abridgement to their liberty of contract and a violation of due process.

Facts. The 1897 Labor Law stated that no employee can be required or permitted to work in a biscuit, bread, or cake bakery or confectionery establishment more than sixty hours in a week or more than ten hours in one day, unless to make work on the last day of the week shorter. And the number of hours worked in a week could not average out to be more than ten hours per day.

Issue. Does the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment protect liberty of contract and private property against unwarranted government interference?
Schenck vs. U.S.
Brief Fact Summary. The distribution of leaflets using impassioned language claiming that the draft was a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution) and encouraging people to “assert your opposition to the draft” was held not to be protected speech.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The character of every act depends on the circumstances in which it is done. The question in every case is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to protect.

Facts. This case is based on a three count indictment. The first charge was a conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917. The second alleges a conspiracy to commit an offense against the United States. The third count alleges an unlawful use of the mails for the transmission of unlawful matter. The document in question claims that the draft is a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment of the Constitution and encourages people to “assert your opposition to the draft.” The Defendants, Schenck and other publishers of the leaflets (Defendants), were found guilty on all of the counts.

Issue. Whether the words used in the leaflets are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to protect? Held. Yes. Judgment of the lower court affirmed. In many places and in ordinary times, the Defendants in saying all that was said in the leaflets would have been within their constitutional rights. However, the character of every act depends on the circumstances in which it is done. The question in every case is whether the words are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to protect. When a nation is at war, many things that might be said in a time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right. Therefore, the words used in the leaflets are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to protect.
Debs vs. U.S.
Brief Fact Summary. The Petitioner, Debs (Petitioner), was found guilty for attempting to incite insubordination in the military by giving a speech. He was convicted and sentenced to 10 years on each count.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Speech is not protected if one purpose of the speech, incidental or not, is to oppose war efforts.

Facts. The Petitioner gave a number of public speeches in Canton, Ohio opposing the war. The theme of his speeches was the benefits of a Socialist society. He focused on the indictments of his ‘comrades’ for helping others evade the draft and the ill effects of war.

Issue. Does the Petitioner have a protected right to express himself as he did?

Held. No. The Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) sustains the charge of attempting to obstruct and obstructing the recruiting service of the Respondent, the United States (Respondent).

Discussion. The decision is based on the analysis of the likelihood or imminence of harm caused by the speech. Although there appears to be very little evidence of either here, the Supreme Court believed the danger was very real.
U.S. vs. Korematsu (1941)
Brief Fact Summary. During World War II, a military commander ordered all persons of Japanese descent to evacuate the West Coast. The Petitioner, Korematsu (Petitioner), a United States citizen of Japanese descent, was convicted for failing to comply with the order.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Legal restrictions that curtail the civil rights of a single racial group are subject to the most rigid scrutiny. But, pressing public necessity may sometimes justify such restrictions.

Facts. President of the United States Franklin Roosevelt (President Roosevelt) issued an executive order authorizing military commanders to prescribe military areas from which any or all persons may be excluded. Thereupon, a military commander ordered all persons of Japanese descent, whether or not they were United States citizens, to leave their homes on the West Coast and to report to “Assembly Centers.” The Petitioner, a United States citizen of unchallenged loyalty, but of Japanese descent, was convicted under a federal law making it an offense to fail to comply with such military orders.

Issue. Was it within the power of Congress and the Executive to exclude persons of Japanese ancestry from the West Coast at the time that they were excluded?

Held. Yes. At the time the exclusion was ordered, it was justified.
Justice Hugo Black stated that although the exclusion order imposed hardships upon a large number of American citizens, hardships are part of war. When, under conditions of warfare, our shores are threatened by hostile forces, the power to protect them must be commensurate with the threatened danger.

Justice Frank Murphy (J. Murphy) argued that the exclusion at issue here goes over the brink of constitutional power and falls into the abyss of racism. Although we must extend great deference to the judgments of the military, it is essential that there be definite limits to military discretion. Moreover, the military order is not reasonably related to the dangers it seeks to prevent.
Justice Robert Jackson (J. Jackson) stated he would not distort the United States Constitution (Constitution) to approve everything the military may deem expedient.

Discussion. Ironically, this case establishes the “strict scrutiny” standard of review, thereby leading to the invalidation of much race-based discrimination in the future.
Hirabayashi vs. U.S
Facts of the Case
In the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt acted to prevent incidents of subversion and espionage from individuals of Japanese descent living in the United States. He issued two executive orders which were quickly enacted into law. One gave the Secretary of War the power to designate certain parts of the country "military areas" and exclude certain persons from them. The second established the War Relocation Authority which had the power to remove, maintain, and supervise persons who were excluded from the military areas. Gordon Kiyoshi Hirabayashi, a student at the University of Washington, was convicted of violating a curfew and relocation order.

Did the President's executive orders and the power delegated to the military authorities discriminate against Americans and resident aliens of Japanese descent in violation of the Fifth Amendment?

The Court found the President's orders and the implementation of the curfew to be constitutional. Chief Justice Stone, writing for the unanimous Court, took into account the great importance of military installations and weapons production that occurred on the West Coast and the "solidarity" that individuals of Japanese descent felt with their motherland. He reasoned that restrictions on Japanese actions served an important national interest. The Court ducked the thorny relocation issue and focused solely on the curfew, which the Court viewed as a necessary "protective measure." Stone argued that racial discrimination was justified since "in time of war residents having ethnic affiliations with an invading enemy may be a greater source of danger than those of a different ancestry."
Brown vs. Board of Education
This case is a consolidation of several different cases from Kansas, South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware. Several black children (through their legal representatives, Ps) sought admission to public schools that required or permitted segregation based on race. The plaintiffs alleged that segregation was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

In all but one case, a three judge federal district court cited Plessy v. Ferguson in denying relief under the “separate but equal” doctrine. On appeal to the Supreme Court, the plaintiffs contended that segregated schools were not and could not be made equal and that they were therefore deprived of equal protection of the laws.

Is the race-based segregation of children into “separate but equal” public schools constitutional?
Holding and Rule (Warren)
No. The race-based segregation of children into “separate but equal” public schools violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and is unconstitutional.
Segregation of children in the public schools solely on the basis of race denies to black children the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, even though the physical facilities and other may be equal. Education in public schools is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.

The question presented in these cases must be determined not on the basis of conditions existing when the Fourteenth Amendment was adopted, but in the light of the role of public education in American life today. The separate but equal doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, which applied to transportation, has no place in the field of public education.

Separating black children from others solely because of their race generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The impact of segregation is greater when it has the sanction of law. A sense of inferiority affects the motivation of a child to learn. Segregation with the sanction of law tends to impede the educational and mental development of black children and deprives them of some of the benefits they would receive in an integrated school system. Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority and any language to the contrary in Plessy v. Ferguson is rejected.

Judgment for the plaintiffs.
Roe vs. Wade
Brief Fact Summary. Appellant Jane Roe, a pregnant mother who wished to obtain an abortion, sued on behalf of all woman similarly situated in an effort to prevent the enforcement of Texas statutes criminalizing all abortions except those performed to save the life of the mother.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Statutes that make criminal all abortions except when medically advised for the purpose of saving the life of the mother are an unconstitutional invasion of privacy.

Facts. Texas statutes made it a crime to procure or attempt an abortion except when medically advised for the purpose of saving the life of the mother. Appellant Jane Roe sought a declaratory judgment that the statutes were unconstitutional on their face and an injunction to prevent defendant Dallas County District Attorney from enforcing the statutes. Appellant alleged that she was unmarried and pregnant, and that she was unable to receive a legal abortion by a licensed physician because her life was not threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy and that she was unable to afford to travel to another jurisdiction to obtain a legal abortion. Appellant sued on behalf of herself and all other women similarly situated, claiming that the statutes were unconstitutionally vague and abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Issue. Do the Texas statutes improperly invade a right possessed by the appellant to terminate her pregnancy embodied in the concept of personal liberty contained in the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, in the personal marital, familial, and sexual privacy protected by the Bill of Rights or its penumbras, or among the rights reserved to the people by the Ninth Amendment?

Held. The right to personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but the right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.
The abortion laws in effect in the majority of the States are of relatively recent vintage, deriving from statutory changes generally enacted in the latter half of the 19th century. At common law abortion performed before quickening (the first recognizable movement of the fetus in utero) was not an indictable offense, and it is doubtful that abortion was ever a firmly established common law crime even when it destroyed a quick fetus.
Three reasons have been advanced for the historical enactment of criminal abortion laws. The first is that the laws are the product of a Victorian social concern to discourage illicit sexual conduct, but this argument has been taken seriously by neither courts nor commentators. The second reason is that the abortion procedure is hazardous, therefore the State’s concern is to protect pregnant women. However, modern medical techniques have altered the situation, with abortions being relatively safe particularly in the first trimester. The third reason is the State’s interest is in protecting the prenatal life. However, this is somewhat negated by the fact that the pregnant woman cannot be prosecuted for the act of abortion.
For the stage prior to the approximate end of the first trimester, the abortion decision must be left to the medical judgment of the pregnant woman’s attending physician, and may not be criminalized by statute.
For the stage subsequent to the approximate end of the first trimester, the State may regulate abortion in ways reasonably related to maternal health based upon the State’s interest in promoting the health of the mother.
For the stage subsequent to viability, the State may regulate and even proscribe abortion, except where necessary for the preservation of the mother’s life, based upon the State’s interest in the potential of the potential life of the unborn child.
Dissent. Justice Rehnquist. The right to an abortion is not universally accepted, and the right to privacy is thus not inherently involved in this case.
Gideon vs. Wainwright
Brief Fact Summary. Gideon was charged with a felony in Florida state court. He appeared before the state Court, informing the Court he was indigent and requested that the Court appoint him an attorney. The Court declined to appoint Gideon an attorney, stating that under Florida law, the only time an indigent defendant is entitled to appointed counsel is when he is charged with a capital offense.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. This case overruled Betts and held that the right of an indigent defendant to appointed counsel is a fundamental right, essential to a fair trial. Failure to provide an indigent defendant with an attorney is a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (”Constitution”).

Facts. Gideon was charged in a Florida state court with breaking and entering into a poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanor. Such an offense was a felony under Florida law. When Gideon appeared before the state Court he informed the court that he was indigent and requested the Court appoint him an attorney, asserting that “the United States Supreme Court says I am entitled to be represented by counsel.” The se Court informed Gideon that under Florida law only indigent clients charged with capital offenses are entitled to court appointed counsel.
Gideon proceeded to a jury trial; made an opening statement, cross-examined the State’s witnesses, called his own witnesses, declined to testify himself; and made a closing argument. The jury returned a guilty verdict and Gideon was sentenced to serve five years in state prison. While serving his sentence, Gideon filed a petition for habeas corpus attacking his conviction and sentence on the ground that the trial court’s refusal to appoint counsel denied his constitutional rights and rights guaranteed him under the Bill of Rights. The Florida State Supreme Court denied relief. Because the problem of a defendant’s constitutional right to counsel in state court continued to be source of controversy since Betts v. Brady, the United States Supreme Court (”Supreme Court”) granted certiorari to again review the issue.

Issue. Whether the Sixth Amendment constitutional requirement that indigent defendants be appointed counsel is so fundamental and essential to a fair trial that it is made obligatory on the states by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution?
Held. The right to counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial and due process of law.
Concurrence. Justice Tom Clark (”J. Clark”) concurred and recognized that the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution clearly required appointment of counsel in “all criminal prosecutions” and that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution requires appointment of counsel in all prosecutions for capital crimes. The instant decision does no more than erase an illogical distinction. J. Clark further concludes that the Constitution makes no distinction between capital and noncapital cases. The Fourteenth Amendment requires due process of law for the deprivation of liberty just as equally as it does for deprival of life. Accordingly, there cannot be a constitutional distinction in the quality of the process based merely upon the sanction to be imposed.
Justice John Harlan (”J. Harlan”): Agrees that Betts v. Brady should be overruled, but argues that Betts recognized that there might be special circumstances in non capital cases requiring the appointment of counsel. In non capital cases the special circumstances continued to exist, but have been substantially and steadily eroded, culminating in the instant decision. J. Harlan clarified his view that he does not believe that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution incorporates the entire Sixth Amendment resulting in all federal law applies to all the States. J. Harlan still wants to preserve to the States their independence to make law and procedures consistent with the divergent problems and legitimate interests that the States face that are difference from each other and different from the Federal Government.

Discussion. The Supreme Court, in reaching its conclusion that the right to counsel is a fundamental right imposed upon the states pursuant to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, engages in an analysis of its previous decisions holding that other provisions of the Bill of Rights are fundamental rights made obligatory on the States. The Supreme Court accepts the Betts v. Brady assumption that a provision of the Bill of Rights which is fundamental and essential to a fair trial is made obligatory on the states by the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. The Supreme Court diverges from Betts in concluding that the right to assistance of counsel is a fundamental right. The Supreme Court found that the Betts Court’s conclusion that assistance of counsel is not a fundamental right was an abrupt break from its own well-considered precedent. The Supreme Court further reasons that the right to be heard at trial would be, in many cases, of little avail without the assistance of
counsel who is familiar with the rules of court, the rules of evidence and the general procedure of the court system. Without the assistance of counsel “though he be not guilty, he faces the danger of conviction because he does not know how to establish his innocence.
Miranda vs. Arizona
Brief Fact Summary. The defendants offered incriminating evidence during police interrogations without prior notification of their rights under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution (the “Constitution”).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Government authorities need to inform individuals of their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights prior to an interrogation following an arrest.

Facts. The Supreme Court of the United States (”Supreme Court”) consolidated four separate cases with issues regarding the admissibility of evidence obtained during police interrogations.
The first Defendant, Ernesto Miranda (”Mr. Miranda”), was arrested for kidnapping and rape. Mr. Miranda was an immigrant, and although the officers did not notify Mr. Miranda of his rights, he signed a confession after two hours of investigation. The signed statement included a statement that Mr. Miranda was aware of his rights.
The second Defendant, Michael Vignera (”Mr. Vignera”), was arrested for robbery. Mr. Vignera orally admitted to the robbery to the first officer after the arrest, and he was held in detention for eight hours before he made an admission to an assistant district attorney. There was no evidence that he was notified of his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.
The third Defendant, Carl Calvin Westover (”Mr. Westover”), was arrested for two robberies. Mr. Westover was questioned over fourteen hours by local police, and then was handed to Federal Bureau of Investigation (”FBI”) agents, who were able to get signed confessions from Mr. Westover. The authorities did not notify Mr. Westover of his Fifth Amendment constitutional rights.
The fourth Defendant, Roy Allen Stewart (”Mr. Stewart”), was arrested, along with members of his family (although there was no evidence of any wrongdoing by his family) for a series of purse snatches. There was no evidence that Mr. Stewart was notified of his rights. After nine interrogations, Mr. Stewart admitted to the crimes.
Issue. Whether the government is required to notify the arrested defendants of their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights against self-incrimination before they interrogate the defendants?
Held. The government needs to notify arrested individuals of their Fifth Amendment constitutional rights, specifically: their right to remain silent; an explanation that anything they say could be used against them in court; their right to counsel; and their right to have counsel appointed to represent them if necessary. Without this notification, anything admitted by an arrestee in an interrogation will not be admissible in court.

Dissent. Justice Tom Clark (”J. Clark”) argued that the Due Process Clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution would apply to interrogations. There is not enough evidence to demonstrate a need to apply a new rule as the majority finds here.
The second dissent written by Justice John Harlan (”J. Harlan”) also argues that the Due Process Clauses should apply. J. Harlan further argues that the Fifth Amendment rule against self-incrimination was never intended to forbid any and all pressures against self-incrimination.
Justice Byron White (”J. White”) argued that there is no historical support for broadening the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution to include the rights that the majority extends in their decision. The majority is making new law with their holding.

Discussion. The majority notes that once an individual chooses to remain silent or asks to first see an attorney, any interrogation should cease. Further, the individual has the right to stop the interrogation at any time, and the government will not be allowed to argue for an exception to the notification rule.
Loving vs. Virginia
Brief Fact Summary. The state of Virginia enacted laws making it a felony for a white person to intermarry with a black person or the reverse. The constitutionality of the statutes was called into question.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Restricting the freedom to marry solely on the basis of race violates the central meaning of the Equal Protection Clause.

Facts. The state of Virginia enacted laws making it a felony for a white person to intermarry with a black person or a black person to intermarry with a white person. The Supreme Court of Appeals of Virginia held that the statutes served the legitimate state purpose of preserving the “racial integrity” of its citizens. The State argued that because its miscegenation statutes punished both white and black participants in an interracial marriage equally, they cannot be said to constitute invidious discrimination based on race and, therefore, the statutes commanded mere rational basis review.

Issue. Was rational basis the proper standard of review by which to evaluate the constitutionality of the statutes?
Were the Virginia miscegenation statutes constitutional under the Equal Protection Clause?
Held. No and No.
The mere fact that a statute is one of equal application does not mean that the statute is exempt from strict scrutiny review. The statutes were clearly drawn upon race-based distinctions. The legality of certain behavior turned on the races of the people engaging in it. Equal Protection requires, at least, that classifications based on race be subject to the “most rigid scrutiny.”
The Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution (Constitution) prohibits classifications drawn by any statute that constitutes arbitrary and invidious discrimination. The fact that Virginia bans only interracial marriages involving whites is proof that the miscegenation statutes exist for no purposes independent of those based on arbitrary and invidious racial discrimination.
Concurrence. Justice Potter Stewart (J. Stewart) argued it is not possible for a state law to be valid, which makes the criminality of an act depend upon the race of the actor.

Discussion. The key to this case is articulated in J. Stewart’s concurrence. The miscegenation statute was improper because it made the legal consequences of an action turn on the races of the persons participating in it.
Brandenburg v. Ohio
Brief Fact Summary. An Ohio law prohibited the teaching or advocacy of the doctrines of criminal syndicalism. The Defendant, Brandenburg (Defendant), a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, made a speech promoting the taking of vengeful actions against government and was therefore convicted under the Ohio Law.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Speech can be prohibited if it is “directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action” and it is likely to incite or produce such action.

Facts. The Ohio Criminal Syndicalism Act (the “Act”) made it illegal to advocate “crime, sabotage, violence or . . . terrorism as a means of accomplishing industrial or political reform.” It also prohibited “assembling with any society, group, or assemblage or persons formed to teach or advocate the doctrines of criminal syndicalism. The Defendant, a leader in the Ku Klux Klan, made a speech promoting the taking of revenge against the government if it did not stop suppressing the white race and was therefore convicted under the Act.

Issue. Did the Statute, prohibiting public speech that advocated certain violent activities, violate the Defendant’s right to free speech under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?
Held. Yes.
(Per Curiam) The Act properly made it illegal to advocate or teach doctrines of violence, but did not address the issue of whether such advocacy or teaching would actually incite imminent lawlessness. The mere abstract teaching of the need or propriety to resort to violence is not the same as preparing a group for violent action. Because the statute failed to provide for the second part of the test it was overly broad and thus in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
Justice Hugo (J. Black) I agree with Justice William Douglas (J. Douglas) in his concurring opinion of this case that the “clear and present danger” doctrine should have no place in our interpretation of the First Amendment of the Constitution.
J. Douglas argues that the how the “clear and present danger” test has been applied in the past is disconcerting. First, the threats to which it was applied were often loud but puny. Second, the test was so perverted as to make trial of those teachers of Marxism all out political trials, which had the effect of eroding substantial parts of the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Discussion. In order for “incitement to violence” speech to be constitutionally barred, Brandenburg sets a new standard. The language must (1) expressly advocate violence; (2) advocate immediate violence and (3) relate to violence likely to occur.
Griswold v. Connecticut
Brief Fact Summary. A Connecticut provision outlawing the counseling of others to use contraception, as well as the use of contraception, was found unconstitutional under strict scrutiny because it violated the Due Process Clause.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The right of marital privacy lies within the penumbra of the Bill of Rights. Therefore, it is a fundamental right and strict scrutiny is the standard of judicial review.

Facts. Appellant, Ms. Griswold, was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut (”League”). Appellant and the Medical Director for the League gave information and instruction and medical advice to married couples about birth control. Appellant and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized counseling, and other medical treatment to married persons for purposes of preventing conception. Appellants were found guilty as accessories and fined $100 each. The state appellate courts affirmed.

Issue. Whether the Constitution protects the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple’s ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?

Held. Yes. Judgment of the state appellate court affirme
Skokie vs. Nazi Party
The National Socialist Party of America (NSPA), at the time a predominately neo-Nazi party, planned a rally in Skokie, Illinois. Skokie was a largely Jewish community, with many of its residents having survived the Holocaust. The neo- Nazi leader Frank Collin originally planned to march near Marquette Park on the south side of Chicago. However, the Park District demanded a 350,000 dollar insurance bond to protect against any possible violence or rioting which resulted from the Nazi’s demonstration. The purpose of the insurance bond, which no other protesting groups were required to meet, was to prevent the Nazis from demonstrating.
The Nazis
responded by filing
permit applications
in suburbs
throughout the
Chicago area
claiming that they
wanted to march in
each place. Skokie
was the first to turn
them down, and the
Nazis decided to go
anyway. Skokie
then obtained an
injunction to
prevent the
demonstration. The
case went through lower Illinois courts, all of which disallowed the NSPA from marching, walking, or parading in their uniforms, from displaying the swastika in any form and from distributing pamphlets or displaying any materials relating to the Nazi party.
The ACLU represented the NSPA, and the case was fought in the state courts, the federal courts, and, the Supreme Court of the United States. Ultimately, the courts ruled that Skokie was
treating the NSPA differently from other groups because of its political views and that denying a permit and forcing the NSPA to pay a gross amount in insurance costs was a violation of the group’s First Amendment rights. All groups, no matter the popularity of their respective opinions, are to be treated equal under the Constitution of the United States. The Court further held that, notwithstanding its offensiveness, the use and display of the Swastika represented a symbolic form of free speech entitled to First Amendment protections.
The implications of the decision in the immediate-term were limited. Following negotiations with the US Department of Justice, the Nazis held their assembly in downtown Chicago rather than Skokie with a minimum amount of disorder.
However, the repercussions of the decision in the long-term, not only for the state of Illinois but for the Unites States as a country, were profound. The decisions by the state and federal courts in Illinois affirmed the belief that the First Amendment right to free speech protects individuals’ rights to express their views, even if most people consider those views extremely offensive. In this way, the First Amendment prevents majorities from silencing minority views with which they do not agree. The case definitively demonstrates that the First Amendment not only protects the views that most citizens support, but also unpopular beliefs as well.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Bakke (Respondent), a white applicant to the University of California, Davis Medical School, sued the University, alleging his denial of admission on racial grounds was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution).

Synopsis of Rule of Law. Although race may be a factor in determining admission to public educational institutions, it may not be a sole determining factor.

Facts. The University of California, Davis Medical School reserved 16 spots out of the 100 in any given class for “disadvantaged minorities.” The Respondent, when compared to students admitted under the special admissions program, had more favorable objective indicia of performance, while his race was the only distinguishing characteristic. The Respondent sued, alleging that the special admissions program denied him equal protection of laws under the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution.

Is the special admissions program of the University of California constitutional?
Can race be considered as a factor in the admissions process?
Held. The special admissions program is unconstitutional, but race may be considered as a factor in the admissions process.
Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell), writing for the court, says that the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) should not pay attention to past discrimination in reviewing the policies of the University, as this is tantamount to allowing political trends to dictate constitutional principles.
J. Powell determines that accepting a minimum number of minorities simply to reduce the traditional deficit of such individuals in the medical profession is facially unconstitutional, as it gives preference to an individual on the basis of race alone.
The major determination of the Supreme Court is whether or not racial preference may be used to promote diversity of the student body. J. Powell argues that setting aside a specified number of minority slots is not congruent to the purported goal – minority students in themselves do not guarantee a diversity of viewpoints in the educational environment.

Justices William Brennan (J. Brennan), Byron White (J. Brennan), Thurgood Marshall (J. Marshall), and Harry Blackmun (J. Blackmun) dissent, believing the special admissions program to be constitutional. In particular, the Justices argue that the racial classification in the present case is remedial, serves an important government objective and also substantially related to that objective and thus insulated from the Fourteenth Amendment’s general prohibition of such classifications.
J. Marshall writes separately in support of J. Brennan, J. White, J. Marshall, and J. Blackmun.
Justice John Paul Stevens (J. Stevens) dissents, citing that Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits the denial of any individual on the basis of race from participation in any program receiving federal funding. J. Stevens argues that prohibiting white students from participation in the special admissions program is a direct violation of Title VI.
J. Brennan, J. White, J. Marshall, and J. Blackmun concur so much as the Supreme Court’s opinion allows race to be considered as a factor in the admissions process. However, the Justices believe that in this particular example, race should be allowed as a single determining factor.
J. Stevens concurs to the extent that the special admissions program is impermissible. However, J. Stevens holds that the constitutional issue is not reached, because the federal statutory ground (Title VI) prohibits the activity directly.
Texas vs. Johnson
Brief Fact Summary. A conviction for burning the United States flag based on a Texas law was overturned after the Supreme Court of the United States (Supreme Court) found that the Texas law was unconstitutional.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. The government generally has a freer hand in restricting expressive conduct than it has in restricting the written or spoken word. It may not, however, proscribe particular conduct because it has expressive elements. It is not simply the verbal or nonverbal nature of the expression, but the governmental interest at stake, that helps to determine whether a restriction on that expression is valid.

Facts. After publicly burning the American flag, the Defendant, Gregory Lee Johnson (Defendant), was convicted of desecrating a flag in violation of Texas law. The Court of Criminal Appeals overturned the conviction.

Issue. Whether Defendant’s burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct, permitting him to invoke the First Amendment of the United States Constitution (Constitution)?
Whether the state’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol of nationhood justifies Defendant’s conviction?
Held. Yes. Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. The very purpose of a national flag is to serve as a symbol of our country. Pregnant with expressive content, the flag as readily signifies this nation as does the combination of letters found in “America.” Texas conceded that Defendant’s conduct was expressive conduct. He burned the flag as part of a political demonstration. Therefore, Defendant’s burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct thereby permitting him to invoke the First Amendment of the Constitution.
No. Judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeals affirmed. The state’s restriction on Defendant’s expression is content-based. Therefore, the state’s asserted interest in preserving the special symbolic character of the flag must be subjected to the “most exacting scrutiny.” To say that the Government has an interest in encouraging proper treatment of the flag is not to say that it may criminally punish a person for burning the flag as a means of political protest. Therefore, the state’s interest in preserving the flag as a symbol of nationhood does not justify Defendant’s conviction because it is not consistent with the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Dissent. It was for Defendant’s use of this symbol, not the idea that he sought to convey for which he was convicted.
The interest of preserving the flag as a symbol of nationhood is legitimate and justified the Defendant’s conviction.

Discussion. This case resulted in battle lines being drawn between those in Congress who wanted to amend the Constitution to permit restraints on flag desecration and those who supported new legislation rather than constitutional amendment.
Bowers vs. Hardwick
Brief Fact Summary. A male homosexual was criminally charged for committing consensual sodomy with another male adult in the bedroom of his home.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. There is no constitutional right to engage in consensual homosexual sodomy.

Facts. The Respondent, Hardwick (Respondent), brought suit in a federal district court challenging the constitutionality of a Georgia statute insofar as it criminalized consensual sodomy. The Respondent asserted that he was a practicing homosexual, that the Georgia statute placed him in imminent danger of arrest and that the statute violated his constitutional rights. The District Court granted a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim. The Eleventh Circuit reversed the decision ruling that the statute violated the Respondent’s “fundamental rights because his homosexual activity was a private and intimate association . . . .” The Eleventh Circuit remanded the decision for trial ruling that the Georgia statute must pass strict scrutiny before it can be upheld.

Issue. Whether the act of consensual homosexual sodomy is protected under the fundamental right to privacy.

Dissent. The dissenting opinions are as follows:
Justice Harry Blackmun (J. Blackmun). “[T]he right of an individual to conduct intimate relationships in the intimacy of his or her own home [as seen in this case] seems . . . to be the heart of the Constitution’s protection of privacy.”
Justice John Paul Stevens (J. Stevens). “The Court orders the dismissal of respondent’s complaint even though the State’s statute prohibits all sodomy; even though that prohibition is concededly unconstitutional with respect to heterosexuals; and even though the State’s post hoc explanations for selective application are belied by the State’s own actions. At the very least, . . . it [is] clear at this early stage of the litigation that respondent has alleged a constitutional claim sufficient to withstand a motion to dismiss.”
Concurrence. The concurring opinions are as follows:
Chief Justice Warren Burger (J. Burger). “I find nothing in the Constitution depriving a State of the power to enact the statute challenged here.”
Justice Lewis Powell (J. Powell). Even though the Respondent has no fundamental right to engage in consensual sodomy, he may “be protected by the Eight Amendment of the Constitution” because the Respondent may be imprisoned for his homosexual acts “for up to 20 years for a single private, consensual act of sodomy.”
Lawrence V. Texas
Brief Fact Summary. Police found two men engaged in sexual conduct, in their home, and they were arrested under a Texas statute that prohibited such conduct between two men.

Synopsis of Rule of Law. While homosexual conduct is not a fundamental right, intimate sexual relationships between consenting adults are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.

Facts. In Houston, Texas, Harris County Police officers were dispatched to a private home in response to a reported weapons disturbance. They entered (the right to enter does seem to have been questioned) the home where John Geddes resided, and observed Lawrence and another man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a sex act. The men were arrested, held over night and charged with violating a Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. Specifically the statute provided “A person commits and offense if he engaged in deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex” and goes on to define deviate sexual intercourse as follows: “ any contact between any part of the genitals of one person and the mouth or anus of another person or the penetration of the genitals or the anus of another person with an object”. The two men were then convicted before a Justice of the Pease.

Issue. The issue is whether a statute prohibiting specific sex acts violates liberty under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Held. Yes, intimate sexual conduct, between consenting adults, is a liberty protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Dissent. Justice Scalia: He believes that since the court does not find homosexual sodomy to be a fundamental right, and merely describes it as an “exercise in liberty”, a rational basis scrutiny should be applied, and in doing so, the law would be upheld. In addition, the courts willingness to overturn Bowers rather than use stare decicis, is inconsistent with other case law such as Planned Parenthood, and thus, feels the court should be consistent and stable rather than being “manipulative in invoking the doctrine”. Since all laws, by definition (as example, prostitution, using heroin, etc) affect liberty, they would all be unconstitutional under this court’s ruling.
Elk Grove vs. Newdow
Facts of the Case
Michael Newdow's daughter attended public school in the Elk Grove Unified School District in California. Elk Grove teachers began school days by leading students in a voluntary recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, including the words "under God" added by a 1954 Congressional act. Newdow sued in federal district court in California, arguing that making students listen - even if they choose not to participate - to the words "under God" violates the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment.

The district court dismissed Newdow's complaint for lack of standing, because he and the mother of his daughter are divorced and he does not have custody. The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, holding that Newdow did have standing "to challenge a practice that interferes with his right to direct the religious education of his daughter." The Ninth Circuit ruled that Congress's 1954 act adding the words "under God" to the Pledge and the school district policy requiring it be recited both violated the First Amendment's establishment clause.
Legal provision:
In an opinion authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Supreme Court found that Newdow did not have standing to bring suit because he did not have sufficient custody over his daughter. "When hard questions of domestic relations are sure to affect the outcome, the prudent course is for the federal court to stay its hand rather than reach out to resolve a weighty question of federal constitutional law," Justice Stevens wrote. Because it found that Newdow did not have standing, the Court failed to reach the constitutional question. Chief Justice Renquist and Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and Clarence Thomas all wrote seperate concurrences, saying that requiring teachers to lead the Pledge is constitutional
Gonzales vs. Raich (2005)
Facts of the Case
In 1996 California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, legalizing marijuana for medical use. California's law conflicted with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which banned possession of marijuana. After the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) seized doctor-prescribed marijuana from a patient's home, a group of medical marijuana users sued the DEA and U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in federal district court.

The medical marijuana users argued the Controlled Substances Act - which Congress passed using its constitutional power to regulate interstate commerce - exceeded Congress' commerce clause power. The district court ruled against the group. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and ruled the CSA unconstitutional as it applied to intrastate (within a state) medical marijuana use. Relying on two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that narrowed Congress' commerce clause power - U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000) - the Ninth Circuit ruled using medical marijuana did not "substantially affect" interstate commerce and therefore could not be regulated by Congress.

Legal provision: 21 U.S.C. 801
No. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the Court held that the commerce clause gave Congress authority to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana, despite state law to the contrary. Stevens argued that the Court's precedent "firmly established" Congress' commerce clause power to regulate purely local activities that are part of a "class of activities" with a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The majority argued that Congress could ban local marijuana use because it was part of such a "class of activities": the national marijuana market. Local use affected supply and demand in the national marijuana market, making the regulation of intrastate use "essential" to regulating the drug's national market. The majority distinguished the case from Lopez and Morrison. In those cases, statutes regulated non-economic activity and fell entirely outside Congress' commerce power; in this case, the Court was asked to strike down a particular application of a valid statutory scheme.
Ashcroft vs. ACLU
Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) to prevent minors from accessing pornography online. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and online publishers sued in federal court to prevent enforcement of the act, arguing that it violated the Free Speech clause of the First Amendment. The District Court agreed. On appeal, a Third Circuit Court of Appeals panel affirmed, holding that because the act used "community standards" to decide which material was harmful to minors, it would prohibit material that was felt offensive in the most "puritanical" communities from being displayed in more "tolerant" ones.

On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the "community standards" provision alone did not make the act unconstitutional and sent the case back to the Third Circuit for further evaluation.

The Third Circuit again prohibited implementation of the act, holding that it was likely to fail the "strict scrutiny" test because it was not narrowly tailored - that is, it prevented online publishers from publishing some material that adults had a right to access - and because it did not use the least restrictive means possible to protect children (the court found that blocking software installed on home computers by parents would do as good a job without preventing free speech). For similar reasons, the panel found that the act was unconstitutionally "overbroad" - that is, it applied to too much protected material.
Legal provision: Amendment 1: Speech, Press, and Assembly
Yes. In an interesting 5-to-4 vote, with Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg on one side and Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia, Breyer and O'Connor on the other, the Court found that Congress had not yet met its burden to show that the COPA requirements were more effective than other methods of preventing minors. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, wrote that the district court's injunction "was not an abuse of discretion, because on this record there are a number of plausible, less restrictive alternatives to the statute." The majority also emphasized that barring the statute's enforcement during the trial would be less harmful than allowing it, because allowing it would be likely to prevent online publishers from publishing certain material.
Washington D.C vs. Heller
Facts of the Case
For the first time in seventy years, the Court heard a case regarding the central meaning of the Second Amendment and its relation to gun control laws. After the District of Columbia passed legislation barring the registration of handguns, requiring licenses for all pistols, and mandating that all legal firearms must be kept unloaded and disassembled or trigger locked, a group of private gun-owners brought suit claiming the laws violated their Second Amendment right to bear arms. The federal trial court in Washington D.C. refused to grant the plaintiffs relief, holding that the Second Amendment applies only to militias, such as the National Guard, and not to private gun ownership.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit disagreed, voting two to one that the Second Amendment does in fact protect private gun owners such as plaintiffs. Petitioners agree with the trial court's decision that the Second Amendment applies only to militias, and further argue that (a) the Second Amendment should not apply to D.C. because it is a federal enclave rather than a state, and (b) that the D.C. legislation merely regulates, rather than prohibits, gun ownership. Respondents, although disagreeing on the merits, have also urged the Court to review the case in order to clearly define the relationship between federal gun control laws and the Second Amendment.
Legal provision: Amendment 2
Yes. In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self- defense within the home. The Court based its holding on the text of the Second Amendment, as well as applicable language in state constitutions adopted soon after the Second Amendment. Justice Antonin Scalia delivered the opinion of the Court. Justices John Paul Stevens and Stephen Breyer filed dissenting opinions, each joined by the other as well as Justices David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Stevens argued that the Second Amendment only protects the rights of individuals to bear arms as part of a well-regulated state militia, not for other purposes even if they are lawful. Justice Breyer agreed with Stevens' argument but also stated that even if possession were to be allowed for other reasons, any law regulating the use of firearms would have to be "unreasonable or inappropriate" to violate the Second Amendment. In Breyer's view, the D.C. laws at issue in this case were both reasonable and appropriate.
McDonald vs. Chicago
Facts of the Case
Several suits were filed against Chicago and Oak Park in Illinois challenging their gun bans after the Supreme Court issued its opinion in District of Columbia v. Heller. In that case, the Supreme Court held that a District of Columbia handgun ban violated the Second Amendment. There, the Court reasoned that the law in question was enacted under the authority of the federal government and, thus, the Second Amendment was applicable. Here, plaintiffs argued that the Second Amendment should also apply to the states. The district court dismissed the suits. On appeal, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed.
Does the Second Amendment apply to the states because it is incorporated by the Fourteenth Amendment's Privileges and Immunities or Due Process clauses and thereby made applicable to the states?
Legal provision: U.S. Constitution, Amendment 2
The Supreme Court reversed the Seventh Circuit, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense applicable to the states. With Justice Samuel A. Alito writing for the majority, the Court reasoned that rights that are "fundamental to the Nation's scheme of ordered liberty" or that are "deeply rooted in this Nation's history and tradition" are appropriately applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court recognized in Heller that the right to self-defense was one such "fundamental" and "deeply rooted" right. The Court reasoned that because of its holding in Heller, the Second Amendment applied to the states. Here, the Court remanded the case to the Seventh Circuit to determine whether Chicago's handgun ban violated an individual's right to keep and bear arms for self-defense.

Justice Alito, writing in the plurality, specified that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment right recognized in Heller. He rejected Justice Clarence Thomas's separate claim that the Privileges or Immunities Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment more appropriately incorporates the Second Amendment against the states. Alito stated that the Court's decision in the Slaughterhouse Cases -- rejecting the use of the Privileges or Immunities Clause for the purpose of incorporation -- was long since decided and the appropriate avenue for incorporating rights was through the Due Process Clause.

Justice Antonin Scalia concurred. He agreed with the Court's opinion, but wrote separately to disagree with Justice John Paul Stevens' dissent. Justice Clarence Thomas concurred and concurred in the judgment. He agreed that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment against the states, but disagreed that the Due Process Clause was the appropriate mechanism. Instead, Justice Thomas advocated that the Privileges or Immunities Clause was the more appropriate avenue for rights incorporation. Justice John Paul Stevens dissented. He disagreed that the Fourteenth Amendment incorporates the Second Amendment against the states. He argued that owning a personal firearm was not a "liberty" interest protected by the Due Process Clause. Justice Stephen G. Breyer, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, also dissented. He argued that there is nothing in the Second Amendment's "text, history, or underlying rationale" that characterizes it as a "fundamental right" warranting incorporation through the Fourteenth Amendment.
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