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Supreme Court Landmark Cases Government – Ms. Meehan.

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Presentation on theme: "Supreme Court Landmark Cases Government – Ms. Meehan."— Presentation transcript:

1 Supreme Court Landmark Cases Government – Ms. Meehan

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3 West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) Require public school students to salute flag & recite the Pledge of Allegiance Consequences: expulsion; lose parental custody Jehovah’s Witnesses challenged on 1 st Amendment grounds (Free Exercise of Religion & Free Speech) Issue: Does compulsory flag-salute violate 1 st & 14 th (?) Holding: 6-3 in favor of students o Reasoning : “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein.” Impact?

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5 Engel v. Vitale (1962) New York state law required public schools to begin each day with a state authorized prayer drafted by the State Board of Regents.(“Almighty God”) Jewish parents argued that state-sponsored prayers in public schools violate the Establishment Clause (1 st Amendment) Issue: Does NY requirement violate 1 st Amendment? Holding: 6-1 decision in favor of parents o the Court held that school officials may not require devotional religious exercises during the school day, as this practice unconstitutionally entangles the state in religious activities and establishes religion Impact? o Moment of silence (1985); school graduation prayer (1992); school sporting events prayer (2000)

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7 Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) Students planned to wear black armbands to school to protest U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War School officials adopted a no-armband rule (even though they allowed students to wear other symbols). The students nonetheless wore the armbands to school. Students were suspended Issue: Can school officials censor non-violent student speech (symbolic speech); Violation of 1 st Amendment (Freedom of Speech)

8 Tinker v. Des Moines (1969) Holding: 7 – 2 in favor of students o Reasoning : School officials’ duties to provide a safe learning environment must be balanced against students’ free-expression rights o "It can hardly be argued that either students or teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate." o Rule: School officials cannot censor student speech unless school officials reasonably forecast that the speech will cause a material and substantial disruption of school activities or collide with the rights of others. Mere apprehension of disturbance or an offense given is not enough Dissent : (Black) … teachers, parents, and elected school officials will surrender control of the American public school system to public school students. Impact?

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10 Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986) A public high school student delivered a nominating speech on behalf of another student at a student assembly. The speech contained elaborate and immature sexual innuendo. Fraser was suspended for violating the school’s no- disruption rule, which prohibited “obscene, profane language.”; no graduation speech Issue : Does suspension violate 1 st Amendment under Tinker standard -without substantial disruption? Holding : 7-2 in favor of school o Reasoning : The vulgar speech differs from the pure political message of Tinker. School officials were not censoring speech based on viewpoint. Rather, they were punishing the student for using vulgar and lewd terms at a student assembly o Interest in teaching students the boundaries of socially appropriate behavior Impact?

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12 Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988) School newspaper wanted to publish student-written articles about teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on kids Principal deletes articles from issue Issue: Does the censorship violate 1 st Amendment rights under the Tinker standard. Holding: 5-3 in favor of school Reasoning: o School officials can censor school-sponsored student publications when they have purposes reasonably related to legitimate educational concerns; o Private student speech vs. student speech that occurs in school-sponsored activities. School-sponsor: educators have more control b/c could be considered school’s perspective Impact?

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14 Morse v. Frederick (2007) Students took a mini-field trip across the street to view Olympic Torch runner. Unraveled a 14-ft banner, “Bong Hits 4 Jesus” Frederick refused Principal Morse’s instruction to take banner down  10 day suspension Issue: 1 st Amendment rights violated? Censorship based on content of speech Holding: 5-4 in favor of school o Reasoning: Frederick's speech occurred "at a school event"; second, that the speech was "reasonably viewed as promoting illegal drug use” Dissent: view-point discrimination; Tinker should apply b/c it is a political message Impact?

15 Morse v. Frederick (2007) Dissent continued: “Admittedly, some high school students (including those who use drugs) are dumb. Most students, however, do not shed their brains at the schoolhouse gate, and most students know dumb advocacy when they see it. The notion that the message on this banner would actually persuade either the average student or even the dumbest one to change his or her behavior is most implausible.” (Justice Stevens)

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17 New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985) A New Jersey high school student was accused of violating school rules by smoking in the bathroom, leading an assistant principal to search her purse for cigarettes; found marijuana paraphernalia T.L.O. confessed; NJ brought juvenile delinquency charges Issue: Did search violate 4 th Amendment right against unreasonable search & seizure? Holding: 6-3 in favor of New Jersey and the school o Reasoning : school officials do not need a warrant to justify a search as long as the search was reasonable under the circumstances o Rule: school officials are only required to have a “reasonable suspicion” that a student has violated school rules; do not need to have probable cause o The privacy interest of students must be balanced against the interest of teachers and school officials in maintaining order and discipline in school Impact?

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19 Board of Edu. of Pottawatomie Cty v. Earls (2002) School district adopted the Student Activities Drug Testing Policy. The policy required drug testing of all students who participated in any extracurricular activities (before & during; randomly) Two students challenged the application of the policy to them (but not to athletes – 1995 SC Case). Issue: Does policy violate 4 th Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures? Holding: 5-4 in favor of school board o Reasoning : Balance students’ limited expectation of privacy with school’s interest in protecting the safety and health of the students o Minimal invasion of privacy; no criminal consequences Dissent: students being targeted by this policy have not been shown to have problems with drug use. The testing of these students is, therefore, unreasonable. Impact?

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21 Safford Unified School District v. Redding (2009) A 13-year-old girl at an Arizona school district was suspected of possessing ibuprofen. School officials searched the girl's belongings, then strip- searched her to make sure that she was not hiding the medication in her underwear. Issue: Did search violate the student's 4th Amendment right? Holding: 8-1 in favor of student o Reasoning : weighed the student’s privacy interests against the need of educators to maintain a safe learning environment o No reasonable suspicion that drugs presented a danger or were concealed in her underwear Impact?

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23 Texas v. Johnson (1989) Johnson attended a political demonstration during the Republican National Convention in Dallas to protest policies of the Reagan Administration He doused the flag with kerosene and set it on fire Johnson was charged with flag desecration of under the TX Penal Code (1 year prison/$2000) Issue: Did conviction violate 1 st Amendment (speech)? Holding: 5-4 in favor of Johnson o Reasoning : “if there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” o “we do not consecrate the flag by punishing its desecration, for in doing so we dilute the freedom that this cherished emblem represents.” Dissent: Texas’s prohibition on flag burning did not regulate the content of Johnson’s message, but only removed one of the ways in which this message could be expressed

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25 District of Columbia v. Heller (2008) D.C. had one of the strictest gun laws in the country. It included a ban on virtually all handguns Heller believed the law made it impossible for him to defend himself in his home Issue : Does D.C. gun ban violate 2 nd Amendment right to bear arms? Holding : 5-4 in favor of Heller o Reasoning: In the 1st, 4th, and 9th Amendments, the phrase “the right of the people” is used only to refer to individual rights—that is, rights held by people as individuals. o 2 nd Amendment: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed. Dissent : the scope of that individual right was limited to the connection with militia service; D.C. ban was a reasonable restriction Impact?

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27 Mapp v. Ohio (1961) Bombing suspect was hiding in Mapp's house; police failed to produce a search warrant Police gained access by forcibly opening at least one door; held up a piece of paper claiming it was a search warrant Police found a trunk containing "lewd and lascivious" books, pictures, and photographs. Mapp found guilty Issue : Should evidence obtained through a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment be excluded as evidence in a state criminal trial? Holding : 5-3 in favor of Mapp o Reasoning: “the criminal goes free, if he must, but it is the law that sets him free.” “Nothing can destroy a government more quickly than its failure to observe its own laws.” Dissent: 1 st Amendment issue, not 4 th Impact?

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29 Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Miranda was arrested after a crime victim identified him in a police lineup; charged with rape and kidnapping Miranda confessed after 2 hours of interrogation; no mention of 5 th (self-incrimination) or 6 th (counsel) rights Confession used in trial; sentence each crime Issue: Do the police have an obligation to ensure that the accused person is aware of 5 th Amendment rights? Holding: 5-4 in favor of Miranda o Reasoning: only statements freely made by a defendant may be used in court. o “the modern practice of in-custody interrogation is psychologically rather than physically oriented,” Dissent: the new requirements would impair police officers duties and would have harmful effects of crime on society Impact?

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31 Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) Burglary in poolroom in FL. Police arrested Gideon and charged him with breaking and entering Gideon (poor) asked the judge to appoint attorney for him as required by 6 th Amendment; judge denied request b/c state court not federal court Found guilty – sentenced to 5 years (started law study) Issue: In state criminal trials, are indigent defendants entitled to a lawyer, even in noncapital cases? Holding: 9-0 in favor of Gideon o Reasoning: the government and defendants considered the aid of a lawyer in criminal cases absolutely necessary. ($ spent on trials) Impact?

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33 Roe v. Wade (1973) Jane Roe (pseudonym) was unmarried & pregnant; wanted an abortion TX abortion law made it a felony to abort a fetus unless “on medical advice for the purpose of saving the life of the mother.” Roe challenged statute (Wade = D.A.) Issue : Does TX law violate 14 th Equal Protection & right to privacy (found implicitly in 1 st, 4 th, 5 th, 9 th and 14 th )? Holding : 7-2 in favor of Roe o Reasoning: a woman’s choice whether to have an abortion is protected by her right to privacy. o 14 th : “depriv[ing] any person of … liberty … without due process of law,” - protected a fundamental right to privacy. o State interest must be compelling - balance protection of mother & protection of fetus – state interest strengthens with each trimester; viability test Dissent : no privacy right mentioned in USC Impact?

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35 Casey v. Planned Parenthood (1992) PA passed the Abortion Control Act - required women to give "informed consent” (parent / husband); 24-hour waiting period; clinics report to state Issue: Does PA law violate SC’s ruling in Roe v. Wade? Holding: Plurality opinion (upheld right to abortion/Roe) o Reasoning: Right to privacy that is protected from state interference in "marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education. o Rule: 1 st trimester regulation okay for health of mother; no limit to access o Rule: Viability stage (the point at which states may constitutionally outlaw abortions) slightly before 3 rd trimester o Rule: State regulation cannot impose a substantial obstacle

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37 Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) LA Separate Car Act (1890); shall provide “equal but separate accommodations”; penalty $25 or 20 days in jail; civil rights group organized a challenge to law Homer Plessy, one-eighth black LA citizen, purchased 1 st class ticket & sat in white only section; arrested Issue: Does law violate 14 th Amendment Equal Protection clause? Holding: 7 – 1 in favor of Ferguson (district court judge) o Reasoning: the Fourteenth Amendment was only concerned with legal, not social, equality. o Racial prejudice could not be overcome by “an enforced commingling of the two races.” o Rule: “separate but equal” doctrine Impact?

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39 Brown v. Board of Education (1954) Linda Brown was a young African American student in the Topeka, Kansas school district. Attended an all- black school; denied admission to white school (closer) KS law: 15,000+ population permitted separate facilities; Topeka school board – separate elem. schools Issue: Did school board violate equal protection clause 14 th Amendment? Holding: Unanimous decision in favor of Brown (overrules Plessy) o Reasoning: “separate education facilities are inherently unequal” o Examine the more subtle, intangible effect of segregation o Separating children solely on the basis of race created a feeling of inferiority in the “hearts and minds” of African American children o Brown II: “with all deliberate speed.”

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41 Regents of the Univ. of CA v. Bakke (1978) Medical School of the University of California at Davis reserved 16 out of 100 seats in its entering class for minorities (quota) Allan Bakke, a white applicant, denied admission (MCAT scores, GPA, and benchmark scores were "significantly higher" than recently admitted minorities) Issue: Does quota system violate Civil Rights Act of 1964 & 14 th Amendment Equal Protection clause? Holding: 5-4 decision (quota system not constitutional) o Race is considered as one of many admission factors and used to remedy past findings of discrimination and to promote diversity o Diversity in the classroom is a positive thing o U.C.-Davis's program went too far

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43 Bush v. Gore (2000) The outcome of 2000 election hinged on FL; Bush led VP Gore by about 1,800 votes Because the returns were so close, FL law called for an automatic machine recount of ballots Bush with a bare 327-vote lead; FL law allowed Gore the option of "manual vote recounts” Gore opted for manual recounts in four counties with widespread complaints of voting machine malfunction FL also required Secretary of State (Katherine Harris) to certify election results within 7 days of election (Nov. 26) 3 of 4 counties unable to meet deadline & Harris rejected extension; Harris certified election for Bush Gore sued secretary; SC of FL ruled all ballots cast but not counted by voting machines must be manually recounted

44 Bush v. Gore (2000) Issue: Does recount violate 14 th Amendment Equal Protection Clause Holding: 5-4 "per curiam" (non-specially authored) the Florida Supreme Court's recount order was unconstitutional because it granted more protection to some ballots than to others, violating the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Voting for a president constituted a "fundamental right" strictly guarded by the Equal Protection Clause, and that the Florida Supreme Court's order violated this right because it was "arbitrary."


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