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					The Supreme Court

  Landmark Decisions
 The following is NOT in any way a complete discussion of
ALL the important cases that the Supreme Court has decided.
It is just a sample of SOME of the important or interesting
Marbury v. Madison - 1803
• Lame Duck Pres. John Adams appoints
  numerous new federal judges, all members
  of the Federalist Party
• Adams instructs Sec. of State John Marshall
  to deliver the appointments
• William Marbury was one of those who
  were to get the appointment
• Marshall does not deliver all the
  appointments before leaving office
• New Pres. Jefferson instructs new Sec. of
  State Madison NOT to deliver them
• Marbury sues Madison in the S.C. citing
  Congress’ Judiciary Act of 1789 allows him
  to have the appointment
       Constitutional Question

• Did the SC have original jurisdiction to hear
  Marbury v. Madison?
• Was the Judiciary Act of 1789
        The Court’s Decision
• Yes the SC has jurisdiction under Article 3
  of the Constitution
• Part of the Judiciary Act of 1789 is
     Impact, Why do we care?
• This was the first time the SC found a law
  of Congress to be unconstitutional
• It established the concept of JUDICIAL
  REVIEW – the power of the SC to nullify
  laws in conflict with the Constitution
• The decision has been crucial in the checks
  and balances system
            Interesting Twist
• Chief Justice John Marshall was very
  influential in this decisions and authored the
  Majority Opinion
• Yes, the same John Marshall who, as Sec.
  of State, did not deliver the appointment to
  Marbury in the first place
• Marbury never gets his appointment as
  Federal Judge.
Dred Scott v. Sandford - 1857
• Dred Scott was a slave in the antebellum
• Between 1833-1843 (approx.) Scott lived
  with his owner in “free territory” (Illinois
  and Wisconsin).
• Scott’s owner dies and he is returned to the
  south where the owner’s widow sells him to
  a new owner.
• Dred Scott sues in Missouri State court to
  win his freedom claiming that his extended
  stay in free territory made him a free man.
• After numerous conflicting decisions and
  appeals, ends up in the US Supreme Court.
       Constitutional Question
• Did Dred Scott have the social standing to
  sue through the US Court system?
• Did living in free territory (as defined by the
  1820 Missouri Compromise) automatically
  give him freedom?
• Slaves or freed slaves are not citizens.
• Since Scott was not a citizen, he had no
  right to sue anybody in court.
• Furthermore, the SC found the Missouri
  Compromise unconstitutional. The federal
  government has not authority to tell
  States/Territories if they are free or slave.
     Impact! Why do we care?
• The tragically poor decision in Dred Scott
  helped to propel the US into Civil War.
• With no 1820 Comp. law, Slavery could
  theoretically exist anywhere in new
• The Scott decision made clear the need for
  an eventual 14th and 15th Amendment.
            After Thoughts
• The circumstance of the Scott took decades
  to develop and resolve.
• The son of Scott’s original owner had been
  a long term friend. After the case, the man
  paid for Scott’s freedom (and that of his
• Scott died nine months after becoming free.
Tinker v. Des Moines 1969
• Dec. 1965 Des Moines Iowa
• John & Mary Beth Tinker and some friends
  decide to wear black armbands to school to
  protest the war in Vietnam.
• School district heard about it and told them
  they could not do that.
• The students decided to violate the rule and
  wore the armbands anyway.
• The students were suspended.
• Parents filed suit in US District Court
  claiming that the student’s 1st Amend. free
  speech rights had been violated.
• Court finds in favor of the School District
  and the case is appealed to the Sup. Ct.
       Constitutional Question
• Are students forced to leave their free
  speech rights behind when they enter
           Court’s Decision
• In THIS situation, the school did violate
  the free speech rights of the students.
• Students not forced to give up their 1st
  Amend. rights when they enter school
• HOWEVER. Schools do have the right to
  limit those rights when there is a potential
  for a disruption of the learning environment
  or safety issues.
• Schools must be able to demonstrate some
  FORESEEABLE harm in the 1st Amend.
• The SC found that there was no foreseeable
  harm in this silent protest.
     Impact. Why do we care?
• The Tinker case is still used today to
  determine whether or not a school’s
  disciplinary actions violate student’s 1st
  Amend. rights.
Plessy . Ferguson - 1896
• Homer Plessy was a successful Louisiana
• Plessy had one African-American
• He was comfortable with both racial groups
  but never really considered himself to be
• Took the train every day, one day he was
  asked by the conductor to move to the
  “segregated” car
• Plessy refused and was arrested and charged
  for violation of State law
       Constitutional Question
• Was Louisiana's State law requiring
  segregated seating on public transportation
  a violation of the 14th Amend. requiring
  equal protection of the law for all citizens?
           Court’s Decision
• Since Louisiana did provide equal (but
  separate) access to public transportation,
  their was no violation of the 14th Amend
  and no violation of equal protection under
  the law
     Impact. Why do we care?
• The Plessy decision validated the concept of
  “separate but equal” making segregation
  allowable for any state wishing to adopt that
• Another 60+ years of segregation, Jim Crow
  laws and denial of African-American rights
     Some important terms are
        appropriate here!
• De Jure Segregation – Segregation by law
  and punishable by law for violation
  – Example: Jim Crow laws
• De Facto Segregation – Segregation by fact,
  even though no law requires it
  – Example: Parts of cities having nearly all
    African-American (or all white) residents or
    schools that are nearly all African-American (or
    all white)
Brown v. Board of Education of
    Topeka Kansas - 1954
• Case surrounds 8 year old African-
  American child named Linda Brown
• Family moved into a home in Topeka KA
  only 5 blocks from the nearest school
• School was segregated for white children
• Linda was assigned to a school for black
  children 21 blocks away
• Linda’s parents sued the Topeka school
  district citing 14th amend. Violation
• Same argument that Plessy had made 50
  years earlier
       Constitutional Question
• In schools, does the very fact of separation
  create an unequal education?
• Does segregation violate the 14th
        Decision of the Court
• Unanimous decision
• Segregation is a violation of equal
  protection of the law under the 14th Amend
• To separate children in school solely based
  on race creates a feeling of inferiority and
  is therefore unequal
• Plessy decision is reversed and school
  segregation is banned
Easier Said Than Done!
     Showdown in Little Rock
• Due to the Brown decision, President
  Eisenhower orders schools to desegregate
• Arkansas Gov. Faubus refuses, stands on
  the steps of Central HS in defiance
• Gov. Faubus orders AR national guard to
  block the entry of black students
• President Eisenhower sends troops from the
  101st Airborn to personally escort the
  students into Central HS
Sept. 25 1957, the “Little Rock Nine” enter
 school under armed escort. The battle for
   civil rights and desegregation begins
The Little Rock Nine
Dec. 1, 1955 Rosa Parks refuses to give
         up her seat on the bus
  Immediately after, MLK runs the
Montgomery Bus Boycott and begins his
        civil rights crusade
Feb. 1960, Lunch Counter sit-ins
       in North Carolina
The civil rights era was off and
   running. Obviously, the
decisions of the Supreme Court
can have a profound impact on
         our society!!
Texas v. Johnson - 1984
• 1984 – Gregory Lee Johnson burns an
  American flag in front of city hall in Dallas
• He was protesting the policies of President
  Ronald Regan
• Johnson was tried and convicted under
  Texas law prohibiting desecration of the
  American flag
• One year in jail + $2,000 fine
• Johnson appealed the decision claiming that
  his 1st amend. rights of free speech had been
      Constitutional Question
• Is burning or other desecration of the
  American flag a form of free speech that is
  protected under the 1st amendment?
        Decision of the Court
• The Sup. Ct. found in favor of Johnson
• The fact that a large portion of society may
  find an act or idea offensive does not justify
  the limitation of free speech
    Impact – Way do we care?
• Democracy and living in a free society is
  sometimes difficult, you have to want it bad
• To live in a free society, we must accept
  that others may have ideas that we disagree
  with but must respect the right to express
  those ideas
So are there any limits to free

   We’ve talked about this before.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier - 1988
• Hazelwood East High School outside of St.
  Louis, MO
• School newspaper is the subject of
• Principal of the school deleted two articles
  prior to the week’s publication
• Student editors were angered and claimed
  censorship and violation of 1st amend. free
  speech and free press
• The articles in question
• One was an article about teen pregnancy
  surrounding 3 students who were pregnant
• One was an article about divorce and its
  impact on teenagers
      Constitutional Question
• Is the censorship of a school newspaper by
  school administration a violation of
  student’s 1st amend. rights?
        Decision of the Court
• Censorship of a school newspaper is not
  necessarily a violation of student 1st amend
• The newspaper is sponsored by the school
  district and therefore, the school district
  retains the right to review and possibly omit
  objectionable articles
• Similarity to Tinker
• The school essentially has rights to limit 1st
  amend expression where there is
  foreseeable harm that could result
     Impact. Why do we care?
• Hazelwood v. Khulmeier is still regularly
  consulted as a model for issues concerning
  student newspapers and 1st Amend rights
New Jersey v. T.L.O. - 1985
• 1980 – Piscataway HS in Middlesex, NJ
• T.L.O. and a friend are caught smoking in
  the girls room
• Taken to principal’s office
• T.L.O.’s purse was searched and found
  cigarettes but also, rolling papers, a pipe, a
  bag of marijuana, a roll of dollar bills and
  notes from students indicating that T.L.O.
  was selling pot
• T.L.O. was taken to police with her mother,
  arrested, convicted as a juvenile, etc., etc.
• T.L.O. and the NJ Supreme Court both
  agreed that T.L.O.’s rights under the 4th and
  14th amend had been violated.
• Ruled that the search was unconstitutional
  and therefore the items found in her purse
  and her confession could not be used in
• State of NJ appeals to the Sup. Ct.
      Constitutional Question
• Does the 4th amend protection from
  unreasonable search and seizure apply to
  students in school?
        The Court’s Decision
• Supreme Ct. agreed with the State of NJ
• School rights to maintain a learning
  environment free from drugs and other
  harmful items.
• When kids are at school, the school has
  similar rights to parents; do not need a
  warrant to search student’s belongings.
• Need only “reasonable suspicion”.
     Impact. Why do we care?
• The T.L.O. decision is used everyday in
  schools all across the country
    Student Rights as a Whole
• It is clear that student age people (minors)
  walk a thin line with regard to their
  constitutional rights
• Parents and schools clearly have ability to
  limit those rights
• In public, minors have the same rights as
  everyone else
• It all depends where you are and what you
  are doing
Roe v. Wade - 1973
• Dallas TX 1969
• Norma McCorvey (alias Jane Roe) a single
  woman discovers she is pregnant.
• Attempts to have an abortion but is denied
  under TX state law prohibiting abortions
  except under circumstance of rape, incest,
  or to save the life of the mother.
• By 1973, Roe’s case reaches the Supreme
  Court where she is claiming violation of her
  (and all other women) rights under the 9th
  and 14th Amend.
• Claims 9th amend. Includes a right to
• 14th Amend. rights cannot be denied citizens
  without due process of law.
       Constitutional Question
• Does the 9th amend guarantee right to
  privacy and does that right include a
  person’s basic life decisions (like having a
• Since different states had different laws
  concerning abortions, does the 14th amend
  of equal protection of the law apply?
        Decision of the Court
• Supreme Ct. agrees with Roe.
• The 9th amend includes an expectation to an
  amount of privacy.
• States cannot deny women’s right to choose
  their reproductive decisions.
• 14th amend extends the above rights to
  women in all states.
     Impact: Why do we care?
• Our nation is still VERY divided over the
  issues brought out by Roe v. Wade
• Politicians during campaigns and Justices
  during confirmation hearings are regularly
  questioned about their opinions on the
• Perhaps there are no clear answers about the
  issue. It is a matter of personal belief.
Miranda v. Arizona - 1966
  Miranda Warnings (rights)
The list of rights that are read to
  you when you are arrested

     Can you recite them?
Ernesto Miranda
• March 1963 a kidnapping are rape occurred
  in Phoenix AZ
• Miranda was identified by the victim and
• He was not informed of his rights under the
  5th and 6th amendments
• Police questioned him and got a confession
• Convicted of his crimes and got 20-30 years
  in prison for EACH charge
• Miranda appealed his conviction based on
  the fact that he was not informed of his
  rights to remain silent and have a lawyer
  present during questioning; a violation of
  his constitutional rights
       Constitutional Question
• Was Miranda’s confessional admissible in
  court since he was not advised of his rights
  under the 5th and 6th amendments?
        Decision of the Court
• Miranda’s rights were violated and his
  conviction was overturned
• The court stated that it is the burden of the
  state to advise each person under arrest of
  their rights, even if these rights are common
  knowledge and even if the person says they
  already know their rights
     Impact, Why do we care?
• Since the Miranda decision, all persons
  under arrest in a criminal investigation
  MUST be read their, now famous, “Miranda
• Failure to do so on behalf of police could
  lead to their case being thrown out of court
  So, what happened to Miranda
• Miranda was given a new trial without use
  of the confession and was again convicted
• He served 11 years of his sentence and was
  paroled in 1972
• Continually in trouble with the law
• Stabbed to death in 1976 as the result of a
  bar fight over $3.00

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