The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)

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The case was complicated , because the company hired women for the job, just not women with young children. The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that it was discriminatory, since it was based on the sex of the applicant, even if it was about motherhood. However, it did send the case back to lower courts to give the corporation a chance to present evidence about the impeded ability of mothers with young children. And the judges were uneasy about the idea that both sexes were equally equipped to do all jobs.

Justice Hugo Black asked Phillips' lawyer , "Does the law require that the employer give the woman a job of digging ditches and things of that kind? The case : In Wisconsin, children were required by law to attend school until they were Amish families think the content of secondary and higher education conflicts with their life of austerity.

They argued the compulsory attendance violated their rights under the First Amendment, specifically the Free Exercise Clause. The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that the Amish families' right to religious freedom was not overridden by the state's interest in education. It held that sending the children to high school would threaten the Amish way of life.

Freedom of religion was seen as more important than the state's interest in education, and this case created an exception for Amish people, and others in similar situations. The justices agreed overall on the ruling, but Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent arguing that the children's viewpoint wasn't being considered, worried that they may miss out on an education if they're not asked whether they want to go to high school.

The case : This case stemmed from a Texas law that said abortion was illegal unless, by doctor's orders, it was to save a woman's life. An anonymous plaintiff called Jane Roe who was later identified as Norma McCorvey filed against the Dallas County district attorney, arguing the law was unconstitutional. The decision : The Supreme Court held that overly restrictive legislation around abortion was unconstitutional.

Based on a right to privacy in the 14th Amendment, the state was not allowed to regulate a woman's decision. This case overruled any laws that made abortion illegal before a fetus was viable, giving women more power when it comes to their bodies and having children. It made access to abortion a constitutional right. The case: In the late s, schools in Texas could use local property taxes to boost revenue.

So schools that were based in poorer areas had less revenue, because the property taxes were lower.

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A class-action suit was filed on behalf of children living in poorer areas. The issue here was whether the system violated the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. The decision: The Supreme Court held that there is no constitutional right to an equal education. The opinion said it should not be unconstitutional, because " burdens or benefits " fall unevenly, depending on the wealth of the areas in which citizens live.

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In Time Magazine's list of the worst Supreme Court cases since , the editors concluded this case enforced the idea that discrimination against the poor did not violate the Constitution, and education wasn't a fundamental right. The case : This case was triggered by the Watergate scandal , when a special prosecutor asked for tapes that President Richard Nixon had recorded in the White House. He refused, saying he had "executive privilege" that allowed him to withhold sensitive information in order to maintain confidential communications and to maintain national security.

Nixon released edited versions, but not the complete tapes, leading to Nixon and the prosecutor both filing petitions to be heard in the Supreme Court.

Recent Civil Cases

The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that while there was limited executive privilege for military or diplomacy reasons, it wasn't enough in this case. Nixon had to hand over the tapes. The case led to Nixon's resignation, and also ensures that the president does not have unlimited privilege to withhold information from other branches of government.

The case: After Kenneth Donaldson told his parents he thought his neighbor was poisoning his food, he was examined and diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Against his will, he was committed to a state hospital for the next 15 years. During that time, two different people volunteered to be responsible for him, but the hospital refused to release him.

He sued, saying the hospital staff had " intentionally and maliciously deprived him of his right to liberty. The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that mental patients could not be confined in institutions against their will, if they weren't dangerous and were capable of surviving in society. In the opinion, Justice Potter Stewart wrote: "May the state fence in the harmless mentally ill solely to save its citizens from exposure to those whose ways are different? One might as well ask if the state, to avoid public unease, could incarcerate all who are physically unattractive or socially eccentric.

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

The decision established the legal threshold for people posing a danger to themselves or others. The case : This was a case about freedom of speech, in particular about spending limits by, or for, candidates running for office. James L.

Buckley, and a coalition of groups, filed a suit arguing that the Federal Election Campaign Act, which limited spending and required spending disclosures, weren't constitutional. The decision : The court held per curiam that independent spending was a form of political speech protected by the First Amendment.

However, it also concluded that contributions could be capped. This is an important decision for campaign spending. It helped lead the way to the rising of political action committees, or PACs. It also led to the enforcement of reporting campaign spending. The case : Several plaintiffs, including the First National Bank of Boston, wanted to challenge a proposed increase on personal income taxes for high-wage earners in Massachusetts. The plaintiffs wanted to pay for advertising to criticize it, but they could only spend money if they were "materially affected," based on a Massachusetts law, which restricted what corporations could spend in politics.

Attorney General Francis Bellotti said the bank wasn't materially affected. The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the provision. The decision : The Supreme Court held that the Massachusetts law was unconstitutional. The court concluded that the First Amendment protected corporations , since they were made up of shareholders who decided their corporation should engage on public issues.

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This case opened the door to Citizens United. Every year, the school accepted people, and 16 of those accepted were from "minority groups. The decision: The Supreme Court held that Bakke should be admitted. However, it also said race could be taken into account to promote diversity on campuses. Six different justices wrote opinions. In one opinion, Justice Harry Blackmun wrote: "In order to get beyond racism, we must first take account of race.

There is no other way. And in order to treat some persons equally, we must treat them differently. Since this case, despite affirming that race could be taken into account, the percentage of black freshman in the US has not changed. The case: David Washington was sentenced to death after he pleaded guilty to murder. But this case arose out of what his lawyer didn't do during the trial. His lawyer failed to call any character witnesses or get a psychiatric evaluation.

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Washington appealed, arguing his counsel's assistance was constitutionally ineffective. The decision: The Supreme Court held that ineffective counsel only violated the Sixth Amendment when the performance was deficient. For this, counsel assistance had to fall below an objective reasonableness standard, and there needed to be a "reasonable probability" the result would have been different had counsel not failed.

Religious Liberty: Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Justice Thurgood Marshall wrote in dissent: "My objection to the performance standard adopted by the Court is that it is so malleable that, in practice, it will either have no grip at all or will yield excessive variation To tell lawyers and the lower courts that counsel for a criminal defendant must behave 'reasonably' and must act like 'a reasonably competent attorney' is to tell them almost nothing.

This case makes it difficult for defendants to prove ineffective assistance claims , since they need to show that it's outside the range of professional competence and that the client was prejudiced by it. The case : In , Congress added an amendment to the Clean Air Act, requiring states to establish programs to reduce power plant pollution. In the amendment, entire power plants were treated as a single unit within a "bubble", even if they had multiple smoke stacks. The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that the bubble policy was valid.

It found that if the law is clear then agencies must follow it, and when a a law does not have a clear meaning, the courts should defer to the federal agency's interpretation of the law. This is one of the most cited Supreme Court decisions of all time, and this standard became known as the " Chevron Defense. The case : During a protest in against then-President Ronald Reagan and local corporations in Dallas, Gregory Johnson covered the American flag in kerosene then lit it on fire , offending witnesses. He was arrested and charged with desecrating a venerated object, which was banned under Texas law.

He appealed, on the basis that the law was in breach of his First Amendment rights. The decision : The Supreme Court held that burning the flag was protected under the First Amendment. In the majority opinion, Justice Brennan wrote: "if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable We do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.

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Despite former President George H. Bush proposing to add an anti flag burning amendment to the constitution, this case still protects unpopular political expression in the US today. The case : A man, for the purposes of the case named Michael , had an affair with a woman who later had a child. Blood tests indicated he was the father.

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He wanted visitation rights, but under California law, the child is presumed to be from the marriage, and another person can only challenge that within the child's first two years of life. Michael was too late, and sued. The issue was whether the California law violated the man's chance to establish paternity. The decision : The Supreme Court held that a biological father does not have a fundamental right to obtain parental rights, after the presumed father had acted in a responsible way for the child.

A woman's husband is to be presumed father of her children, regardless of anyone else's claim. The case : In , Nancy Cruzan, a year-old woman, was in a car crash that resulted in her falling into a vegetative state. She was on life support for five years, and had no chance of recovery, but doctors estimated she could have lived on life support for another 30 years. Her parents asked for her to be disconnected, but the hospital refused without a court order. Before the car crash, Nancy had said she would not want to live if she were sick or injured and could not live "at least halfway normally. The decision : The Supreme Court held that there was a right to die, but the state had the right to stop the family, unless there was "clear and convincing" evidence that it was her wish to die. This was the first time the court had ruled on a right-to-die case.

The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)
The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)
The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)
The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)
The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)
The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law) The Federal Courts: Historic Supreme Court Decisions (LandMark Case Law)

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