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Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/1

A pro-choice rally on the steps of the Supreme Court

Roe v. Wade was the landmark 1973 United States Supreme Court decision that recognized abortion as a constitutional right, overturning several state laws against abortion. It remains one of the most controversial decisions in Supreme Court history. The decision in Roe v. Wade has sparked a decades-long national debate (rally participants pictured) over when abortion should be legal; the role of the Supreme Court in constitutional adjudication; and the role of religious views in the political sphere. Roe v. Wade became one of the most politically significant Supreme Court decisions in history, reshaping national politics, dividing the nation into "pro-choice" and "pro-life" camps, and inspiring grassroots activism. Roe sparked widespread opposition, from those who viewed the Court's decision as illegitimate for straying too far from the text and history of the Constitution, as well as from those motivated by religious and moral beliefs about the inviolability of fetal life. It also attracted widespread support, from those who view the decision as necessary to achieve women's equality and personal freedom.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/2

Beys Afroyim with son

Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967), was a United States Supreme Court decision that set an important legal precedent that a person born or naturalized in the United States cannot be deprived of his or her citizenship involuntarily. The U.S. government had attempted to revoke the citizenship of a man who had voted in a foreign election after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen (Beys Afroyim with son pictured), but the Supreme Court ruled that his right to keep his citizenship was guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. In so doing, the Supreme Court overruled one of its own precedents, Perez v. Brownell (1958), in which the Court had upheld loss of citizenship under similar circumstances.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/3

Justice Kennedy wrote the decision of the court.

Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. ___ (2010) (docket 08-1470), is a decision by the United States Supreme Court in which the Court considered the position of a suspect who understands his or her right to remain silent under Miranda v. Arizona and is aware he or she has the right to remain silent, but does not explicitly invoke or waive the right. Anthony Kennedy (pictured) wrote the opinion of the court. The Court held that unless and until the suspect actually stated that he was relying on that right, his subsequent voluntary statements could be used in court and police could continue to interact with (or question) him. The mere act of remaining silent was, on its own, insufficient to imply the suspect has invoked his or her rights. Furthermore, a voluntary reply even after lengthy silence could be construed as implying a waiver. The Court was split 5-4. The dissent, authored by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, argued that Miranda and other previous cases had required a claimed waiver of a constitutional right to be shown more strongly, especially in light of a lengthy interrogation with a possible "compelling influence" during which the accused had remained almost entirely silent for almost 3 hours prior to the self-incriminating statement. Responses from legal observers and the media were divided. Many considered Berghuis a further erosion of Miranda and were concerned it was "turning the clocks back" on safeguards developed in previous cases. Others saw the ruling as a sign of strength and a signal that the Court, under its own impetus, was willing to address known issues resulting from the view of terrorism as crime. The more common view was concern that vulnerable citizens could now be placed under pressure and, despite having an understanding of their rights, could be more easily coerced prejudicial to their interests.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/4

Educational separation in the US prior to Brown

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional (Educational separation in the US prior to Brown pictured). The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896 which allowed state-sponsored segregation. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9–0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/5

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion

Circuit City Stores, Inc. v. Adams, 532 U.S. 105 (2001), was a United States Supreme Court case decided in 2001. Anthony Kennedy (pictured) wrote the majority opinion. The case concerned whether the "section one exemption" of the Federal Arbitration Act applied to an employment contract of an employee at Circuit City Stores. The Court held that the exemption was limited to the specific listing of professions contained in the text. This meant that general employment contracts, like the one Adams sued under, would have to be arbitrated in accordance with the federal statute.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/6

Thurgood Marshall, the first African American Justice, speaking with his appointing President, Lyndon B. Johnson.

The demographics of the Supreme Court of the United States encompass the gender, ethnic, religious, geographic, and economic backgrounds of the 112 justices appointed to the Supreme Court. Certain of these characteristics have been raised as an issue since the Court was established in 1789. For its first 180 years, justices were almost always white male Protestants. Prior to the 20th century, a few Roman Catholics were appointed, but concerns about diversity of the Court were mainly in terms of geographic diversity, to represent all geographic regions of the country, as opposed to ethnic, religious, or gender diversity. The 20th century saw the first appointment of a Jewish justice (Louis Brandeis, 1916), an African-American (Thurgood Marshall, 1967 (pictured with President Lyndon B. Johnson)) and a woman (Sandra Day O'Connor, 1981). The 21st century saw the first appointment of a Hispanic justice (Sonia Sotomayor, 2009; if one excludes Benjamin Cardozo). In spite of the interest in the Court's demographics and the symbolism accompanying the inevitably political appointment process, and the views of some commentators that no demographic considerations should arise in the selection process, the gender, race, educational background or religious views of the justices has played little role in their jurisprudence. For example, the two African-American justices had similar personal backgrounds at the time of their appointments, yet their opinions reflected radically different judicial philosophies; William Brennan and Antonin Scalia shared Catholic faith and a Harvard Law School education, but shared little in the way of jurisprudential philosophies. The court's first two female justices voted together no more often than with their male colleagues, and historian Thomas R. Marshall writes that no particular "female perspective" can be discerned from their opinions.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/7

Accused murderer, Chief Crow Dog (Kangi Sunká)

Ex parte Crow Dog, 109 U.S. 556 (1883), was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that a federal court did not have jurisdiction to try Crow Dog (pictured), a Native American (Indian) who killed another Indian on the reservation when the offense had been tried by the tribal council. In a conflict between two members of the same tribe, one killed the other while on reservation land. The tribe handled it according to Sioux tradition, and Crow Dog paid restitution. The United States government then tried Crow Dog for murder, and he was sentenced to hang. On his appeal to the Supreme Court, the court held that unless Congress authorized it, the courts had no jurisdiction to try the case. This case resulted in Congress enacting the Major Crimes Act in 1885, placing 15 major crimes under federal jurisdiction if committed by an Indian against another Indian on a reservation or tribal land.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/8

Justice Stevens, the author of the Court's opinion.

Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006), is a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay lack "the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949." Justice John Paul Stevens (pictured) was the author of the Court's opinion. Specifically, the ruling says that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions was violated. The case considered whether the United States Congress may pass legislation preventing the Supreme Court from hearing the case of an accused combatant before his military commission takes place, whether the special military commissions that had been set up violated federal law (including the Uniform Code of Military Justice and treaty obligations), and whether courts can enforce the articles of the 1949 Geneva Convention. An unusual aspect of the case was an amicus brief filed by Senators Jon Kyl and Lindsey Graham, which presented an “extensive colloquy” added to the Congressional record as evidence that "Congress was aware" that the Detainee Treatment Act would strip the Supreme Court of jurisdiction to hear cases brought by the Guantanamo detainees. Because these statements were not actually included in the December 21 debate, Emily Bazelon of Slate magazine has argued this was an attempt to mislead the court. On June 29, 2006, the Court issued a 5-3 decision holding that it had jurisdiction, that the administration did not have authority to set up these particular military commissions without congressional authorization, because they did not comply with the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention (which the court found to be incorporated into the Uniform Code of Military Justice). Just days earlier, Hamdan's defense attorney Lieutenant Commander Charles Swift had been named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in America by the National Law Journal. But in October, the Navy announced plans to dismiss him under its "up or out" promotion policy.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/9

Justice Byron White wrote the decision of the Court

Jacobson v. United States, 503 U.S. 540 (1992), is a case decided by the United States Supreme Court regarding the criminal procedure topic of entrapment. The decision in the case was written by Justice Byron White (pictured). A narrowly divided court overturned the conviction of a Nebraska man for receiving child pornography through the mail, ruling that postal inspectors had implanted a desire to do so through repeated written entreaties. It was the first time the court had considered an entrapment case from outside the realm of controlled-substance enforcement, or one involving conduct that had only recently been criminalized. By relying exclusively on whether the defendant had a predisposition to commit the crime, the court appeared to have finally resolved a lingering issue in its previous decisions on the subject. The decision was seen as a rare triumph for defendants before a conservative court that frequently sided with prosecutors. Guidelines for federal law enforcement agents were changed in its wake, and it was described as having brought entrapment "back from the dead."

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/10

Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in Velazquez.

Legal Services Corp. v. Velazquez, 531 U.S. 535 (2001), was a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States concerning the constitutionality of funding restrictions imposed by the United States Congress. Justice Anthony Kennedy (pictured) wrote the majority opinion in the case. At issue were restrictions on the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a private, non-profit corporation established by Congress. The restrictions prohibited LSC attorneys from representing clients attempting to amend or challenge existing welfare law. The Court ruled that these restrictions violated the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Because LSC facilitated "private" speech—that of its clients—the restrictions did not merely regulate government speech. Further, the nature of how LSC funds are distributed created a public forum, where the government's ability to regulate speech is highly limited. Because the restrictions excluded attempts to affect only a certain type of law, they could not be considered viewpoint-neutral, and the government is prohibited from making such viewpoint-based restrictions of private speech. Reactions to the decision were mixed within political circles, with Republicans and Democrats disagreeing on the propriety of the decision. In academia, there were more critical responses to the Court's holding. Several journals published articles that argued that the use of a 'distortion principle' to decide violations of free speech was unreasonable while others wrote that the Court mishandled the interpretation of the law at issue.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/11

The Crow Wing River area, showing part of the proposed Menominee reservation (area 269)

Menominee Tribe v. United States, 391 U.S. 404 (1968), was a case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the tribal hunting and fishing rights which were retained by treaty were not abrogated by the Menominee Termination Act without a clear and unequivocal statement to that effect by Congress.[1] The Menominee Indian Tribe (proposed reservation pictured) had entered into a series of treaties with the United States which did not specifically state that they had hunting and fishing rights. In 1961 Congress terminated the tribe's federal recognition, ending the tribe's right to govern itself, federal support of health care and education programs, police and fire protection, and tribal rights to land. In 1963, three members of the tribe were charged with violating Wisconsin's hunting and fishing laws on what had formerly been reservation land for over 100 years. A series of court cases brought the issue to the Supreme Court. The court held that the tribe retained its hunting and fishing rights under the treaties involved. This case has since become recognized as a landmark case in Native American case law.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/12

Chief Justice Melville Fuller delivered the majority opinion.

Taylor v. Beckham, 178 U.S. 610 (1900), was a case heard before the Supreme Court of the United States on April 30 and May 1, 1900, to decide the outcome of the disputed Kentucky gubernatorial election of 1899. Chief Justice Melville Fuller (pictured) delivered the majority opinion. The litigants were Republican gubernatorial candidate William S. Taylor and Democratic lieutenant gubernatorial candidate J. C. W. Beckham. In the gubernatorial election, held on November 7, 1899, Taylor received 193,714 votes to Democrat William Goebel's 191,331. This result was certified by a 2–1 decision of the state's Board of Elections. Goebel challenged the election results on the basis of alleged voting irregularities, and the Democratically-controlled Kentucky General Assembly formed a committee to investigate Goebel's claims. Goebel was shot on January 30, 1900, before the General Assembly approved a report. The next day, the Assembly approved a report that invalidated enough votes to swing the election to Goebel. Goebel was sworn into office on January 31, 1900, even as he lay dying of his wounds. Goebel died on February 3, 1900, and Beckham ascended to the governorship. Claiming the General Assembly's decision was invalid, Taylor sued to prevent Beckham from exercising the authority of the governor's office. Beckham sued Taylor for possession of the state capitol and governor's mansion. Both suits were consolidated and heard in Jefferson County circuit court. The circuit court found in favor of Beckham, claiming it had no authority to interfere with the method of deciding contested elections prescribed by the state constitution. The Kentucky Court of Appeals upheld the lower court's decision on appeal. The court further rejected Taylor's claim that he had been deprived of property without due process by stating that an elective office was not property and thus not protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. In a majority opinion delivered by Chief Justice Melville Fuller, the Supreme Court also rejected Taylor's claim to loss of property without due process and thus refused to intervene on Taylor's behalf, claiming that no federal issues were in question and the court lacked jurisdiction.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/13

Justice Stephen Breyer, author of majority opinion

United States v. Billy Jo Lara, 541 U.S. 193 (2004) was a United States Supreme Court case which held that both the United States and a Native American (Indian) tribe could prosecute an Indian for the same acts that constituted crimes in both jurisdictions. Justice Stephen Breyer (pictured) was the author of majority opinion. The court held that both the United States and the tribe were separate sovereigns, therefore double jeopardy did not attach. The defendant, Billy Jo Lara, was charged for acts that were criminal offenses under both the Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe's laws and the federal United States Code. Lara pleaded guilty to the tribal charges, but claimed double jeopardy against the federal charges. The United States Supreme Court ruled that double jeopardy did not apply to Lara since “the successive prosecutions were brought by separate and distinct sovereign bodies”.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/14

A 1904 photograph of Wong Kim Ark.

United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), was a United States Supreme Court decision that set an important legal precedent about the role of jus soli (birth in the United States) as a factor in determining a person's claim to United States citizenship. The citizenship status of a man (Wong Kim Ark pictured) born in the United States to Chinese parents was challenged because of a law restricting Chinese immigration and prohibiting immigrants from China from becoming naturalized U.S. citizens, but the Supreme Court ruled that the citizenship language in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution could not be limited in its effect by an act of Congress.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/15

Justice Byron White wrote the decision of the Court

Vance v. Terrazas, 444 U.S. 252 (1980), was a United States Supreme Court decision that established that a United States citizen cannot have his or her citizenship taken away unless he or she has acted with an intent to give up that citizenship. Justice Byron White (pictured) wrote the decision of the Court. The Supreme Court overturned portions of an act of Congress which had listed various actions and had said that the performance of any of these actions could be taken as conclusive, irrebuttable proof of intent to give up U.S. citizenship. However, the Court ruled that a person's intent to give up citizenship could be established through a standard of preponderance of evidence (i.e., more likely than not) — rejecting an argument that intent to relinquish citizenship could only be found on the basis of clear, convincing and unequivocal evidence.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/16

Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone wrote the decision of the Court

Yasui v. United States, 320 U.S. 115 (1943) was a United States Supreme Court case regarding the constitutionality of curfews used during World War II when they were applied to citizens of the United States. Chief Justice Harlan F. Stone (pictured) wrote the decision of the Court. The case arose out of the implementation of Executive Order 9066 by the U.S. military to create zones of exclusion along the West Coast of the United States where Japanese-Americans were subjected to curfews and eventual removal to relocation centers. This Presidential order followed the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 that brought America into World War II and inflamed the existing anti-Japanese sentiment in the country. In their decision, the Supreme Court held that the application of curfews against citizens is constitutional. As a companion case to Hirabayashi v. United States, both decided on June 21, 1943, the court affirmed the conviction of U.S.-born Minoru Yasui. The court remanded the case to the district court for sentencing as the lower court had determined the curfew was not valid against citizens, but Yasui had forfeited his citizenship by working for the Japanese consulate. The Yasui and Hirabayashi decisions, along with the later Ex parte Endo and Korematsu v. United States decisions determined the legality of the curfews and relocations during the war. In the 1980s new information was used to vacate the conviction of Minoru Yasui.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/17

1901 assassination of President William McKinley by Leon Czolgosz

Gun violence in the United States is associated with the majority of homicides and over half the suicides. It is a significant public concern, especially in urban areas and in conjunction with youth activity and gang violence. Gun violence is not new in the United States, with the assassinations of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865, and of Presidents James Garfield, William McKinley (McKinley assassination pictured), and John F. Kennedy. High profile gun violence incidents, such as the assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy, and Martin Luther King, Jr., and, more recently, the Virginia Tech massacre, the Columbine High School massacre and the Beltway sniper attacks, have fueled debate over gun policies. Many suffer non-fatal gunshot wounds, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimating 52,447 violence-related and 23,237 accidental gunshot injuries in the United States during 2000. The majority of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides, with firearms used in 16,907 suicides in the United States during 2004. Gun policy in the United States is highly influenced by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution, which prohibits infringement of "the right of the People to keep and bear arms."

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/18

Dred Scott

Dred Scott v. Sandford was a lawsuit decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in 1857. It is considered by many to have been a key cause of the American Civil War, and of the later ratification of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution, leading to the abolition of slavery and establishment of civil rights for freed slaves. While the name of the case is "Scott v. Sandford", the respondent's surname was actually "Sanford". A clerk had misspelled the name, and the court never corrected the error. The decision for the court was written by Chief Justice Roger Taney. Dred Scott (pictured) was a slave who was taken first to Illinois, a free state, and then to Minnesota, a free territory, for an extended period of time and then back to the slave state of Missouri. After his original master died, he sued for his freedom. After the Missouri Supreme Court ruled against him, he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the decision of the Missouri court, but also used the case to fundamentally change the legal balance of power in favor of slaveholders.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/19

William Marbury

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803) is a landmark case in United States law and in the history of law worldwide. It formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. It was also the first time in Western history a court invalidated a law by declaring it "unconstitutional", a process called judicial review. This case resulted from a petition to the Supreme Court by William Marbury (pictured), who had been appointed by President John Adams as Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia but whose commission was not subsequently delivered. Marbury petitioned the Supreme Court to force Secretary of State James Madison to deliver the documents, but the court, with John Marshall as Chief Justice, denied Marbury's petition, holding that the part of the statute upon which he based his claim, the Judiciary Act of 1789, was unconstitutional. Marbury v. Madison was the first time the Supreme Court declared something "unconstitutional," and established the concept of judicial review in the U.S. (the idea that courts may oversee and nullify the actions of another branch of government). The landmark decision helped define the "checks and balances" of the American form of government.

Portal:Supreme Court of the United States/Selected article/20

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the decision in the case

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010), was a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court holding that corporate funding of independent political broadcasts in candidate elections cannot be limited—because of the First Amendment. The majority opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts (pictured). The 5–4 decision, in favor of Citizens United, resulted from a dispute over whether the non-profit corporation Citizens United could air a film critical of Hillary Clinton, and whether the group could advertise the film in broadcast ads featuring Clinton's image, in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain–Feingold Act. The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a January 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The lower court decision upheld provisions of the McCain–Feingold Act which prevented the film Hillary: The Movie from being shown on television within 30 days of 2008 Democratic primaries. The Court struck down a provision of the McCain–Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, and unions from broadcasting “electioneering communications.” An "electioneering communication" was defined in McCain–Feingold as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or thirty days of a primary. The decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003). McCain–Feingold had previously been weakened, without overruling McConnell, in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc. (2007). The Court did uphold requirements for disclaimer and disclosure by sponsors of advertisements. The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties.


Adding articles

  1. ^ Menominee Tribe v. United States, 391 U.S. 404 (1968)