Important Cases of the US Supreme Court
The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the constitutional guarantees contained in amendments to the constitution. Among these Guaranteed rights are the freedoms of religion, speech, and press, along with the right of protection against illegal search and seizure, equal protection under the law, and the right to counsel. These rights all contained in the first amendment to the constitution are arguably the most important rights guaranteed to citizens of the United States. However these rights are not absolute. Throughout the course of time many controversies have occurred concerning the limitation of rights. Many of these controversies have called upon the Supreme Court to evaluate the constitutionality of laws or individual actions. Many cases in the history of the supreme court have led to a significant change in the interpretation of rights in the united states.
One important case involving the freedom of religion was Reynolds v. United States in 1879. Reynolds, a Mormon living in Utah had two wives. Polygamy was allowed in the teachings of the church, but prohibited by a federal lab banning the practice in the United States. Reynolds when convicted argued that the federal law violated his constitutional right to the free exercise of his religious beliefs. The Supreme Court did not agree with Reynolds claiming that congress was not without the power to punish violations of social duties or subversive of good order. The court said that to place religious belief superior to the law of the land, would in affect permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such circumstances. The ruling in this case has upheld that ones religious beliefs do not permit him/her to break the law to suit his religion, and that that governmental law presides over all religious beliefs. This is an example of the limitation of the Guaranteed rights of the constitution. The...
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