The Supreme Court Cases Tyler Smith Matt Cunningham Incorporation Barron v. Baltimore (1833) Palko v. Connecticut (1937) Barron v. Baltimore February 16, 1833 Facts Constitutional Questions John Barron was co-owner Does the Fifth Amendment of a profitable wharf in deny the states as well as the harbor of Baltimore. the national government As the city developed and the right to take private expanded, large amounts property for public use of sand accumulated in without justly the harbor, depriving compensating the Barron of the deep property's owner? waters which had been the key to his successful business. He sued the city to recover a portion of his financial losses. Barron v. Baltimore Decision No. The Court announced its decision in this case without even hearing the arguments of the City of Baltimore. Writing for the unanimous Court, Chief Justice Marshall found that the limitations on government articulated in the Fifth Amendment were specifically intended to limit the powers of the national government. Citing the intent of the framers and the development of the Bill of Rights as an exclusive check on the government in Washington D.C., Marshall argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in this case since the Fifth Amendment was not applicable to the states. Unanimous decision Palko v. Connecticut December 6, 1937 Facts of the Case: Charged with First Degree Murder Convicted of Second Degree Murder Sentenced to Life in Prison State of Connecticut appealed and won a new trial Palko convicted of First Degree Murder Sentenced to the Death Penalty Question of the Case: Does Palko's second conviction violate the protection against double jeopardy guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment because this protection applies to the states by virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause? Palko v. Connecticut Supreme Court Decision: Supreme Court upheld Palko’s second conviction. He noted that some Bill of Rights guarantees--such as freedom of thought and speech--are fundamental, and that the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause absorbed these fundamental rights and applied them to the states. Protection against double jeopardy was not a fundamental right. Palko died in Connecticut's gas chamber in April 1938. Freedom of Religion Wallace v. Jaffree (1985) Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990) Wallace v. Jaffree June 4, 1985 Facts Constitutional Questions An Alabama law authorized Did Alabama law violate the teachers to conduct First Amendment's regular religious prayer Establishment Clause? services and activities in school classrooms during the school day. Three of Jaffree's children attended public schools in Mobile. Wallace v. Jaffree Decision Yes. The Court determined the constitutionality of Alabama's prayer and meditation statute by applying the secular purpose test, which asked if the state's actual purpose was to endorse or disapprove of religion. The Court held that Alabama's passage of the prayer and meditation statute was not only a deviation from the state's duty to maintain absolute neutrality toward religion, but was an affirmative endorsement of religion. As such, the statute clearly lacked any secular purpose as it sought to establish religion in public schools, thereby violating the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. Vote 6 to 3 Westside Community Schools v. Mergens June 4, 1990 Facts of the Case: Westside High School administration denied permission to a group of students to form a Christian club with the same privileges and meeting terms as other Westside after-school student clubs Cited the Establishment Clause Mergen and other students sued after the school board upheld the administration's denial The students alleged that Westside's refusal violated the Equal Access Act Requires that schools in receipt of federal funds provide "equal access" to student groups seeking to express "religious, political, philosophical, or other content" messages On appeal from an adverse District Court ruling, the Court of Appeals found in favor of the students Westside Community Schools v. Mergens Questions of the Case: Was Westside's prohibition against the formation of a Christian club consistent with the Establishment Clause, thereby rendering the Equal Access Act unconstitutional? Supreme Court Decision: The Court held that since Westside permitted other noncurricular clubs, it was prohibited under the Equal Access Act from denying equal access to any after- school club based on the content of its speech. Freedom of Speech and Press Near v. Minnesota (1931) Near v. Minnesota June 1, 1931 Facts of case Constitutional Question Jay Near published a scandal sheet in Minneapolis, in which he attacked Does the Minnesota "gag local officials, charging that they law" violate the free press were implicated with gangsters. provision of the First Minnesota officials obtained an injunction to prevent Near from Amendment? publishing his newspaper under a state law that allowed such action against periodicals. The law provided that any person "engaged in the business" of regularly publishing or circulating an "obscene, lewd, and lascivious" or a "malicious, scandalous and defamatory" newspaper or periodical was guilty of a nuisance, and could be enjoined (stopped) from further committing or maintaining the nuisance. Near v. Minnesota Decision The Supreme Court held that the statute authorizing the injunction was unconstitutional as applied. History had shown that the protection against previous restraints was at the heart of the First Amendment. The Court held that the statutory scheme constituted a prior restraint and hence was invalid under the First Amendment. Thus the Court established as a constitutional principle the doctrine that, with some narrow exceptions, the government could not censor or otherwise prohibit a publication in advance, even though the communication might be punishable after publication in a criminal or other proceeding. Equal Protection of Laws – Minorities Lawrence v. Texas (2003) Lawrence v. Texas June 26, 2006 Facts of the Case: Responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence's apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. the State Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Bowers v. Hardwick Lawrence v. Texas Questions of the Case: Do the criminal convictions of John Lawrence and Tyron Garner under the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law, which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples, violate the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of equal protection of laws? Do their criminal convictions for adult consensual sexual intimacy in the home violate their vital interests in liberty and privacy protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Should Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), be overruled? Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court Decision: the Court held that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause. "Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. The Texas statute furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual." The Court overruled Bowers.
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