Court cases dealing with the 14th amendment

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Plessy v. Ferguson

14th amendment- equal protection

Argued 1896, Decided-1896

Louisiana placed a law giving separate railway cars for blacks and whites. In 1892, Homer Plessy- 7/8 Caucasian, sat in a "whites only" car of a Louisiana train, and refused to move to the car for blacks and was then arrested. The Court had to decide whether the Louisiana law was unconstitutional under the 14th amendment. The Court ruled that the state law was within its constitutional boundaries. The majority of this case supported the state-imposed racial segregation. The Court based their final decision on the separate but equal doctrine and agreed that the state had separate facilities for blacks and whites, which were equal. Brown stated that the 14th amendment was imposed to provide complete equality of races before the law. In conclusion, segregation does not constitute unlawful prejudice.

Powell v. Alabama

Argued/Decided-1932

14th amendment-Due Process, 6-right to counsel

Nine black teenagers were accused of raping two white women in Alabama. Officials went through the legal proceedings in a total of three trials in one day and all nine were sentenced to death. The Alabama law obligated the appointment of counsel in capital cases, but the attorneys didn't talk with their clients and only showed up to represent them in trial. The case was merged with Patterson v. Alabama and Weems v. Alabama. Did the trials violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment? Yes. The Court ruled that the trials deprived due process because the defendants were not given enough time to secure counsel in their defense. Justice George Sutherland noted that they didn't get the right to counsel as well. This case was an example of national constitutional defense in the field of criminal justice.

Minersville School District v. Gobitis

Argued/Decided-1940

1st/14-religion, equal protection

In Minersville, Pennsylvania, Lillian and William Gobitis were suspended from school for not saluting the flag. The Gobitis' were Jehovah's witnesses, and believed that such respect for the flag was forbidden by biblical commands. Did the mandatory flag salute infringe upon liberties protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments? No, in a 8-1 decision. The Court ruled that the flag salute was mandatory. The Court stated that the flag was an important symbol of national unity

Cox v. New Hampshire

Argued/Decided-1941

14t amendment- assembly, and worship

Some Jehovah's witnesses were convicted for being a part of a public parade without a permit. They gathered at their church and separated into smaller groups that marched along sidewalks with signs and they gave leaflets announcing a later meeting. They then asserted that their 14th amendment rights were violated including their rights to freedom of worship and freedom of assembly. The Court had to decide whether their 14th and 1st amendments were violated. The Court unanimously upheld the convictions of the Jehovah's Witnesses for engaging in a public parade without a permit.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

Argued-1952, Reargued 1953, Decided 1954

14th amendment- equal protection in public schools

In the Court cases of Briggs v. Elliott and Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward county, together they argued about black children being denied entrance into public schools attended by white children under laws allowing segregation according to the races. The white and black schools approached equality in buildings, curriculum, qualifications, and teacher salaries. The Court had to decide whether the segregation of children in public schools due to race deprived the minority children of equal protection of the 14th amendment. The Court ruled that racial segregation in public education deprives the minority children because it is "interpreted as a sign of inferiority."

Baker v. Carr

Argued-1961, Reargued-1961, Decided -1962

14th amendment- equal...
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