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Court cases

By nassybear Sep 01, 2014 4286 Words
Landmark Supreme Court Case Project
Dredd Scott v. Sandford 1857
In the Dred Scott case, Scott filed for a lawsuit to gain freedom for him and his family. He was once obtained a slave in a slave state, but his master had moved around and ended up in Illinois, which had been a free state in 1836. His rights that were being withheld from him were freedom. The way they pleaded their case was that he lived in a territory where slavery was illegal; therefore he can’t be enslaved again. Scott lost the case, Taney the court’s major opinion writer noted that because Scott was black, he was only counted as 2/3 of a person, and therefore had no right to sue. He referenced back to the Framers of the constitution, “Had no rights which the white man was bound to respect, he was bought and sold as an ordinary article of merchandise.” On the other hand, the opposing side that had lost, Frederick Douglass, found a bright side to the decision announced of Dred Scott’s case, he said “My hope were never brighter than now.” For Douglass, the decision would bring slavery to the attention of the nation and was a step towards its total destruction. Frederick Douglass during the trial argued to the language in the declaration of Independence that includes “all men are created equal.” Scott claimed that because he lived in a free state that as soon as they brought him into that state he had become a free man as well,”

Gibbons v. Ogden 1824!
The city of New York allowed Robert Livingston and Fulton the right to steam boat navigation on the state waters. Livingston assigned to Ogden the right to navigate the waters between New York City and New Jersey port. Ogden bought a lawsuit to seek injunction to restrain gibbons from operating steam ships on waters in violation of his privilege. Ogden was allowed the injunction to which Gibbons appealed, stating that his steamships were licensed under the Act of Congress named “An act for enrolling and licensing ships and vessels to be employed in the coasting trade and fisheries, and for regulating the same.” The Chancellor affirmed the injunction, holding that the New York law granting the exclusive privilege was not repugnant to the Constitution and laws of the United States, and that the grants were valid. Gibbons appealed and the Court affirmed the decision for the Trial of Impeachments and Correction of Errors, the highest Court of law and equity in the state of New York. The decision called Gibbons's federal license a legitimate exercise of the regulation of commerce provided in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. The New York State law creating a commercial monopoly was therefore void, since it conflicted with the regulatory power of the Federal Government in the performance of its constitutional responsibilities. The Court ruled that Gibbons must be allowed to operate within the waters of New York State. The Court was urged to take a narrow view of the word commerce. As a sovereign State, New York was fully empowered to regulate business within its boundaries. New York had granted Ogden a legal exclusive franchise, and anyone who wanted to operate a steam-powered vessel in New York harbor, with landing rights in New York City, would have to pay him for the right. New York's effort did not interfere with the National Government's effort to regulate commerce. The Federal and State governments had concurrent power over commerce.

Gideon v. Wainwright 1963
Clarence Earl Gideon was charged in Florida state court with a felony: having broken into and entered a poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanor offense. When he appeared in court without a lawyer, Gideon requested that the court appoint one for him. According to Florida state law, however, an attorney may only be appointed to an indigent defendant in capital cases, so the trial court did not appoint one. Gideon represented himself in trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida Supreme Court and argued that the trial court’s decision violated his constitutional right to be represented by counsel. The Florida Supreme Court denied habeas corpus relief. The Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision written by Justice Hugo Black, ruled that Gideon's conviction was unconstitutional because Gideon was denied a defense lawyer at trial. The Court ruled that the Constitution's Sixth Amendment gives defendants the right to counsel in criminal trials where the defendant is charged with a serious offense even if they cannot afford one themselves; it states that "in all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense."

The Constitution makes no distinction between capital and noncapital cases. The Fourteenth Amendment requires due process of law for the deprival of “liberty” just as for deprival of “life,” and there cannot constitutionally be a difference in the quality of the process based merely upon a supposed difference in the sanction involved. How can the Fourteenth Amendment tolerate a procedure which it condemns in capital cases on the ground that deprival of liberty may be less onerous than deprival of life—a value judgment not universally accepted or that only the latter deprival is irrevocable? Korematsu v. US 1944

Fred Korematsu refused to obey the wartime order to leave his home and report to a relocation camp for Japanese Americans. He was arrested and convicted. After losing in the Court of Appeals, he appealed to the United States Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the deportation order. The case of Korematsu v. United States deals with military law. This aspect of law is a legal field within Federal Law, which addresses the activity and behavior of military personnel, including issues of treason, war crimes and criminal offenses directed towards military personnel. Korematsu stood up against the forced imprisonment of Japanese people because the government did not differentiate between Japanese extremists or American citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent. In the case of Korematsu v. United States, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the United States, claiming that based on military law, the preservation and protection of the general population of the United States outweighed the individual who was detained in a prison camp. The ruling in Korematsu v. United States also explained that during a time of war, the government was allowed to pass certain laws that may not be legal in times of peace. “Korematsu was born on our soil, of parents born in Japan. The Constitution makes him a citizen of the United States by nativity (birth), and a citizen of California by residence. No claim is made that he is not loyal to this country. There is no suggestion that, apart from the matter involved here, he is not law-abiding and well disposed (well behaved). Korematsu, however, has been convicted of an act not commonly a crime. It consists merely of being present in the state whereof he is a citizen, near the place where he was born, and where all his life he has lived.” Mapp v. Ohio 1961

This case was an appeal to the prior arrest of Dollree Mapp by the Cleveland Police Department. Prior to Mapp v. Ohio, Dollree Mapp – the plaintiff – was arrested after police officers had entered her home in order to search for a fugitive whom Mapp was believed to be harboring; the Cleveland Police Department – following several denials for entry on the part of Mapp – were reported to have falsified a search warrant and forcibly enter the residence of Dollree Mapp.Subsequent to their entry, the police were unable to locate the alleged fugitive; however, they discovered material within the Mapp household that was determined to be “lewd and lascivious” according to police reports – these items were described as books. Dollree Mapp was arrested upon this discovery, but was not charged; however, she maintained that not only did the police lack the grounds to arrest her, but her 4th Amendment rights had been violated, as well. The 4th Amendment prohibits the unlawful search and seizure of resident belonging to citizens of the United States of America; this amendment also defines the rights of privacy awarded to citizens of the United States

The Court brushed aside the First Amendment issue and declared that "all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by [the Fourth Amendment], inadmissible in a state court." Mapp had been convicted on the basis of illegally obtained evidence. This was an historic -- and controversial -- decision. It placed the requirement of excluding illegally obtained evidence from court at all levels of the government. The decision launched the Court on a troubled course of determining how and when to apply the exclusionary rule. However, the concurring opinion gave by Justice Hugo Black stated that the Fourteenth Amendment alone should not be able to justify the exclusionary rule. He believed it was the Fourth Amendment’s ban against unreasonable searches and seizures could be considered together with the Fifth Amendment’s ban against forced self-incrimination that it actually defends the exclusionary rule. Another concurring opinion was made by Justice William Douglas. He assumed that the case would end the irregularity of Wolf v. Colorado, a previous case that also dealt with the exclusionary rule. He believed that the officers violated one’s “right to privacy” which is why Mapp should not be convicted. Conversely, Justice John Harlan filed a dissenting opinion.

McCulloch v. Maryland 1819
In 1816, the United States Congress passed an Act that allowed Federal Banks to be located and to operate within individual states in the U.S. Two years later, in 1816, the state of Maryland passed an Act that placed all banks and financial institutions that operated in the state under the taxation model of Maryland. This law thus made banks and other financial institutions in the state, including all federal banks, to pay Maryland state tax. A year after the passing of this law, McCulloch v. Maryland was heard. The case of McCulloch v. Maryland was heard in 1819. The case was tried in the Supreme Court of the United States. Andrew McCulloch was the defendant in McCulloch v. Maryland. McCulloch was the appointed manager of the Federal Bank located in Baltimore, Maryland. McCulloch refused to pay the state tax imposed by Maryland; he believed that federal banks were not subject to state taxation. In McCulloch v. Maryland, the state was the plaintiff. The state of Maryland believed that the federal bank should pay state taxes because they were operating on their land and using their resources.

The United States Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland ruled in favor of the defendant, Andrew McCulloch. The United States Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland ruled in favor of the defendant because the Necessary and Proper Clause of the United States Constitution stated that the Federal Government was permitted to operate banks within individual states without paying taxes. The decision in McCulloch v. Maryland created a precedent; it led to a number of future decisions involving taxation issues and the federal government.

The justices first addressed the issue of whether the Constitution gave Congress the power to establish a national bank.  They acknowledged that it was not within the enumerated powers of Congress, authority explicitly given to Congress in the Constitution, to establish a national bank.  He also noted that there is nothing in the Constitution restricting the powers of Congress to those specifically enumerated.   Rather, only the “great outlines” of the powers of the three branches are specified.  Instead of listing every power of Congress, the Constitution gives Congress the authority to make “all laws which shall be necessary and proper” for exercising the powers that are specifically enumerated.  This means that Congress has the authority to pass any law that is “necessary and proper” to exercise its power as specified in the Constitution, even if the Constitution does not explicitly give Congress the authority to pass that specific law or to regulate that specific matter.  This is the principle of unenumerated powers.  The justices noted that the Constitution expressly gives Congress the powers to “lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to declare and conduct a war; and to raise and support armies and navies.”  Because a national bank would be “necessary and proper” to allow Congress to exercise these enumerated powers, the Court concluded that the Constitution gave Congress the authority to establish one.

Miranda v. Arizona 1966

The case of Miranda v. Arizona took place in the state of Arizona when a young man named Ernesto Miranda was arrested after being accused of raping a female in 1963. When Ernesto Miranda was apprehended he was given a piece of paper that asked for his formal confession. Miranda refused to sign the paper. After this refusal, Miranda was interrogated by the police for over 2 hours. During the interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crime. However, Miranda’s legal aids (his lawyers and attorneys) argued that the arresting officers did not make the man aware of his rights at the time he was arrested. In addition to this, the lawyers argued that the police neglected to advise Miranda of his right to remain silent so that he would not incriminate himself. The right to remain silent means that during the time of arrest the individual being arrested can keep quiet. This option allows the individual to avoid getting himself in trouble. 
After he was charged with rape, Ernesto Miranda appealed the sentence and brought his case to the United States Supreme Court.

Chief Justice Earl Warren found in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that both Miranda’s 5th and 6th Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested. That being said, additional evidence that was placed on Ernesto Miranda affirmed his initial rape conviction. Miranda ended up spending 11 years in prison; however, the case of Miranda v. Arizona made history. The Miranda rights are now included in the 5th Amendment, stating that all individuals retain the right to remain silent to avoid getting themselves in trouble at the time of arrest. Furthermore, the Miranda rights require that people arrested are made aware of all their rights, including their right to hire a lawyer or legal specialist.

Miranda's oral and written confessions are now held inadmissible under the Court's new rules. One is entitled to feel astonished that the Constitution can be read to produce this result. These confessions were obtained during brief, daytime questioning conducted by two officers and unmarked by any of the traditional indicia of coercion. They assured a conviction for a brutal and unsettling crime, for which the police had and quite possibly could obtain little evidence other than the victim's identifications, evidence which is frequently unreliable. There was, in sum, a legitimate purpose, no perceptible unfairness, and certainly little risk of injustice in the interrogation. Yet the resulting confessions, and the responsible course of police practice they represent, are to be sacrificed to the Court's own finespun conception of fairness which I seriously doubt is shared by many thinking citizens in this country. . . .

New Jersey v. TLO 1985
T.L.O. was a high school student. School officials searched her purse suspecting she had cigarettes. The officials discovered cigarettes, a small amount of marijuana, and a list containing the names of students who owed T.L.O. money. T.L.O. was charged with possession of marijuana. Before trial, T.L.O. moved to suppress evidence discovered in the search, but the Court denied her motion. The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court of New Jersey, Middlesex County found her guilty and sentenced her to probation for one year. On appeal, the Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division affirmed the denial of the motion to suppress evidence. The New Jersey Supreme Court reversed, holding that the exclusionary rule of the Fourth Amendment applies to searches and seizures conducted by school officials in public schools. No decision. In an anonymous opinion, the Supreme Court restored the case to the calendar for reargument. In addition to the previously argued question, the Court requested that the parties brief and argue the additional question of whether the assistant principal violated the Fourth Amendment in opening T.L.O’s purse. Justice John Paul Stevens wrote a dissent, stressing that New Jersey chose not to include the Fourth Amendment question in their petition. Justice Stevens felt that it is not the role of the Supreme Court to offer guidance on questions the parties did put at issue.

Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
Plessy sued the State of Louisiana by claiming that the rights that were guaranteed to him by the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments were violated. The decision of Judge Ferguson was that the State had the right to enforce racial segregation in railroad cars. On appeal, this decision was once again upheld. The Committee appealed again to the United States Supreme Court in 1896.The Supreme Court also upheld the ruling that entitled the State of Louisiana to engage in racial segregation. The Court did not find that the State had violated the Fourteenth Amendment and was not technically treating the races differently, but just keeping them separate. However, in reality, most of the public places that were designed for blacks were greatly inferior to those designed for whites. Plessy was forced to plead guilty to the violation and pay a minor fine and the public facilities remained separated. The majority, in an opinion authored by Justice Henry Billings Brown, upheld state-imposed racial segregation. The justices based their decision on the separate-but-equal doctrine, that separate facilities for blacks and whites satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment so long as they were equal. (The phrase, "separate but equal" was not part of the opinion.) Justice Brown conceded that the 14th amendment intended to establish absolute equality for the races before the law. But Brown noted that "in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political equality, or a commingling of the two races unsatisfactory to either." In short, segregation does not in itself constitute unlawful discrimination. While there may be in Louisiana persons of different races who are not citizens of the United States, the words in the act 'white and colored races' necessarily include all citizens of the United States of both races residing in that state. So that we have before us a state enactment that compels, under penalties, the separation of the two races in railroad passenger coaches, and makes it a crime for a citizen of either race to enter a coach that has been assigned to citizens of the other race. Thus, the state regulates the use of a public highway by citizens of the United States solely upon the basis of race.

Tinker v. Des Moines 1969
In December 1965, a group of students in Des Moines held a meeting in the home of 16-year-old Christopher Eckhardt to plan a public showing of their support for a truce in the Vietnam war. They decided to wear black armbands throughout the holiday season and to fast on December 16 and New Year’s Eve. The principals of the Des Moines school learned of the plan and met on December 14 to create a policy that stated that any student wearing an armband would be asked to remove it, with refusal to do so resulting in suspension. On December 16, Mary Beth Tinker and Christopher Eckhardt wore their armbands to school and were sent home. The following day, John Tinker did the same with the same result. The students did not return to school until after New Year’s Day, the planned end of the protest.Through their parents, the students sued the school district for violating the students’ right of expression and sought an injunction to prevent the school district from disciplining the students. The district court dismissed the case and held that the school district’s actions were reasonable to uphold school discipline. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit affirmed the decision without opinion. The Supreme Court held that the armbands represented pure speech that is entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The Court also held that the students did not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they stepped onto school property. In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference. In his concurring opinion, Justice Potter Stewart wrote that children are not necessarily guaranteed the full extent of First Amendment rights. Justice Byron R. White wrote a separate concurring opinion in which he noted that the majority’s opinion relies on a distinction between communication through words and communication through action. Justice Hugo L. Black wrote a dissenting opinion in which he argued that the First Amendment does not provide the right to express any opinion at any time. Because the appearance of the armbands distracted students from their work, they detracted from the ability of the school officials to perform their duties, so the school district was well within its rights to discipline the students. In his separate dissent, Justice John M. Harlan argued that school officials should be afforded wide authority to maintain order unless their actions can be proven to stem from a motivation other than a legitimate school interest.

US v. Nixon 1974
A grand jury returned indictments against seven of President Richard Nixon's closest aides in the Watergate affair. The special prosecutor appointed by Nixon and the defendants sought audio tapes of conversations recorded by Nixon in the Oval Office. Nixon asserted that he was immune from the subpoena claiming "executive privilege," which is the right to withhold information from other government branches to preserve confidential communications within the executive branch or to secure the national interest. The United States Supreme Court had several issues to tend to regarding the Watergate Scandal and the involvement of President Nixon. However, the Watergate case had implications on the Constitutional level that had to be addressed. Firstly, the Constitution would have to be examined to evaluate whether the President had absolute power to withhold important information from the other branches of power and if the executive privilege clause could be claimed in such a circumstance. Furthermore, the Court also had to address how such a dispute is to be settled to be concurrent with the separation of powers, regarding whether the Judicial or Executive Branch would have jurisdiction in resolving the matter. It was also considered whether or not if the claiming of executive privilege violated provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments regarding Due Process. 
 The Court held that neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified, presidential privilege. The Court granted that there was a limited executive privilege in areas of military or diplomatic affairs, but gave preference to "the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of justice." Therefore, the president must obey the subpoena and produce the tapes and documents. Nixon resigned shortly after the release of the tapes. “We conclude that when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice. The generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.”

Brown v. Board of Education 1954
Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. The white and black schools approached equality in terms of buildings, curricula, qualifications, and teacher salaries. This case was decided together with Briggs v. Elliott, Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County, and Gebhart v. Belton. (A separate but related case -- Bolling v. Sharpe -- presented the same issue in the context of the District of Columbia, which is not subject to the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment because the District is not a state.) Despite the equalization of the schools by "objective" factors, intangible issues foster and maintain inequality. Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on minority children because it is interpreted as a sign of inferiority. The long-held doctrine that separate facilities were permissible provided they were equal was rejected. Separate but equal is inherently unequal in the context of public education. The unanimous opinion sounded the death-knell for all forms of state-maintained racial separation. Associated Legislation with regard to Brown v. Board of Education: The following statutory regulations were employed with regard to the Brown v. Board of Education trial: Brown v. Board of Education cited the Louisiana Railway Car Act as a reference to the notion of separate but equal being unconstitutional; Oliver Brown maintained that the segregation of educational systems was an implicit denial of equal rights. The 14th Amendment to the Constitution required that all citizens of the United States be granted equal protection and equal rights; Brown contended that segregation was in direct violation of this statute.

Citation list
"Dred Scott Case." PBS. PBS, 23 May 2001. Web. 14 May 2014. .

"DRED SCOTT VS. SANFORD 1857." DRED SCOTT VS. SANFORD 1857. San Bernardino City Schools Unified School District, 1 Jan. 2000. Web. 16 May 2014.

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