Landmark Supreme Court Cases Project Student Project Government
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)Case name: U.S. v. Nixon (1974).Holding: The President is not above the law.Background: The special prosecutor in the Watergate affair subpoenaed audio tapes of Oval Office conversations. President Nixon refused to turn over the tapes, asserting executive privilege. The Supreme Court ruled that the defendants right to potentially exculpatory evidence outweighed the Presidents right to executive privilege if national security was not compromised.
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)Background (cont): President Nixon was attempting to cover up illegal actions made by himself and his administration. It was revealed that Nixon had installed a taping system that automatically records all of his conversations. A prosecutor stated to probe the Watergate scandal subpoenaed the tapes. However, the President refused to comply with the subpoena, claiming executive privilege gave him immunity from releasing sensitive information. The Presidents resistance implicated him as being involved in the cover-up of the Watergate break-in, making him part of a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice.Both parties appealed directly to the Supreme Court.There were no dissenting opinions because the case ruled against Nixon 8-0. The concurring opinion was a collective agreement between all justices that the tapes held criminal conduct between the President and his men as well as that Nixons claim to absolute executive privilege was wrong. Executive privilege is a right to the president; however, it is not absolute and can be checked by the Congress or Supreme Court.
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)Under threat of impeachment and probable prosecution in the Senate, which would remove him from office, Nixon chose to resign on August 9, 1974; making Nixon the first president in history to resign from office.The resignation was the final act of the Watergate scandal that was fundamentally about abuse of power. Nixon was caught using the power of the presidency to obstruct justice.This decision has served us some good from future damages and prevented further abuse of Nixons term. This case further established the power of the Supreme Court to act as a check on the Executive branch of government. The Court made it clear that the President could not withhold evidence from an ongoing criminal prosecution of another person simply because he was the President.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)Case name: Texas v. Johnson (1989)Holding: Even offensive speech such as flag burning is protected by the First AmendmentBackground: To protest the policies of the Reagan administration, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag outside of the Dallas City Hall. He was arrested for this act, but argued that it was symbolic speech. The Supreme Court agreed, ruling that symbolic speech is constitutionally protected even when it is offensive.
Texas v. Johnson (1989) Background (cont): Gregory Lee Johnson participated in a political demonstration during the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas, in 1984. When demonstrators reached Dallas City Hall, Johnson drenched the American flag with kerosene and set it on fire. Johnson was charged with the desecration of a venerated object, in violation of the Texas Penal Code. He was convicted, sentenced to one year in prison, and fined $2,000. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals then overturned his conviction saying that the State, consistent with the First Amendment, could not punish Johnson for burning the flag in these circumstances.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)In a 5-4 vote, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Court of Criminal Appeals verdict. Justice William Brennan delivered the majority opinion. " The Government may not prohibit the verbal or nonverbal expression of an idea merely because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable, even where our flag is involved. Nor may a State foster its own view of the flag by prohibiting expressive conduct relating to it, since the Government may not permit designated symbols to be used to communicate a limited set of messages. Moreover, this Court will not create an exception to these principles protected by the First Amendment for the American flag alone." and "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 . . . the constitutionally guaranteed freedom to be intellectually . . . diverse or even contrary, and the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order, encompass the freedom to express publicly ones opinions about our flag, including those opinions which are defiant or contemptuous."" -Justice William BrennanJohnson appealed his case to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, which agreed with him. The court said that the First Amendment protection of free speech included "symbolic speech," which is an action that expresses an idea. It said that flag burning was a form of symbolic speech so Johnson could not be punished.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)Texas v. Johnson carried two dissenting opinions, one authored by Chief Justice Rehnquist (and joined by Justices White and OConnor), and one authored by Justice Stevens.- Rehnquist stated that burning the flag was not essential to the exposition of ideas and had tendencies to incite lawlessness.- Rehnquist suggested burning other symbols of government, including its leaders in effigy, would have been a more appropriate expression of disapproval. Burning the flag was less a form of "expressive speech" than a "grunt and a roar."- Justice Stevens dissent was largely an appeal to logic, acknowledging the flag as a symbol of "nationhood and national unity," but declaring it also had an intangible value as a symbol that sent a message about the United States not only to those who cared about the countrys national unity, but also to dissidents, both at home and abroad.- Justice Steven believed the governments interest in preserving the the flags symbolic value for the future was both significant and legitimate.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)Flag burning is a right our forefathers laid down in the constitution, but that doesnt mean you wont receive nuisance for practicing it. Many see flag burning as a betrayal to the country and find it offensive. Whether you oppose flag burning or not, you are protected to do so if you choose. It all comes down to a matter of belief. While Americans may argue over flag burning for centuries to come, citizens of the United States are still able to practice freedom of speech, regardless of opposing opinions. It is best however to avoid flag burning in a thought this was quite funny :-) country of its own. You will receive a bunch of individuals wholl oppose your actions and theyll protest against you with some form of "symbolic speech" because that sir is acceptable
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)Case name: Brown v. Board of Education (1954)Holding: Separate schools are not equal.Background: In Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), the Supreme Court sanctioned segregation by upholding the doctrine of "separate but equal." The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People disagreed with this ruling, challenging the constitutionality of segregation in the Topeka, Kansas, school system. In 1954, the Court reversed its Plessy decision, declaring that "separate schools are inherently unequal." This case is a consolidation of several different
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)Background (cont): In the early 1950s, many students went to different schools because of their race. White children went to one school and black children went to a different school. This system was called segregation. Many other public facilities were also segregated.A black student named Linda Brown had to walk through a dangerous railroad to get to her all-black school. Her family believed that segregated schools should be illegal. The Brown family sued the school system (Board of Education of Topeka). The district court said that segregation hurt black children. However, the district court also said the schools were equal. Therefore, the segregation was legal. The Browns disagreed with the decision. They believed that the segregated school system did violate the Constitution. They thought that the system violated the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteeing that people will be treated equally under the law.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)The 1954 U.S. Supreme Court verdict in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was unanimous in declaring de jure segregation a violation of the 14th Amendments Equal Protection Clause. There was no dissenting opinion.No State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. —Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)This court decision has affected the United States in a rather positive manner. The decision united everyone of different ethnicities as a whole and as equals. Brown v. Board of Education and the other cases similar to this has helped impact many African-American lives and that of other races. The long-term effects vary depending on the situation. It will mainly impact the U.S. in some sort of positive manner however, others might hold a grudge against whites or vise versa and do cruel things towards the opposite race. Some may even take advantage of such freedom; it all varies depending on the situation. However, for everyones sake, it has made a great impact on the U.S.
Letter to A.C.L.U.Dear Representatives of American Civil Liberties Union,As the courts decision to unanimously end segregation through the influences of Brown v. Board of Educations case and that of similar cases, it has shown a phenomenal impact upon our society. The Fourteenth Amendment clarified that no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law; nor deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of law. The court has taken responsibility and done the constitutional/rightful deed. Although many "colored" individuals before the Brown v. Board of Educations case was less fortunate, it is entirely appreciated that no longer shall that of a "colored" person be segregated because of their features. It was not too long ago that the blacks were going through such hatred because of their color but our nations leader is that of a black male! The things the Brown v. Board of Educations case has impacted, just outstanding results! It is highly appreciated and I hope our everyday lifestyle consists of equality in all means!Sincerely,