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Famous Supreme Court Cases


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3 very important Supreme Court cases and their long term effect. Includes justice's opinions.

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Famous Supreme Court Cases

  1. 1. Supreme Court in Real Life
  2. 2. Dred Scott v. Sandford  Dred Scott was born a slave in Virginia  When Scott moved to Missouri (slave state), he was bought by Dr. John Emerson  Moved to Illinois (free state), but moved back to Missouri shortly before death  Missouri Compromise stated slavery was abolished above 36th parallel  Scott was freed in Illinois but when moved to Missouri, his status was questioned
  3. 3. Dred Scott v. Sandford  Dr. Emerson died and all possessions went to wife, Irene  Scott asked widow if he could work to regain freedom  Scott wasn’t given freedom under Irene Emerson  Scott sued under doctrine “once free, always free”  Irene Emerson left case to brother, John Sandford  Claimed Scott couldn’t sue because he was not a citizen  Case found its way to supreme court in 1857
  4. 4. Majority Opinion  “We think they [people of African ancestry] are… not included… under the word “citizens” in the Constitution”-Chief Justice Roger Taney  Believed that slaves were not free when entering a “free state” because that would take away slave owners’ 5th Amendment rights  Slaves were considered property  Opinion made Missouri Compromise void
  5. 5. Dissenting Opinion  Opinion was written and supported by Justices Curtis and McLean  “He [Scott] is averred to have had a negro ancestry, but this does not show that he is not a citizen of Missouri”-Justice McLean  Believed Scott had right to be in court  Also did not agree with the actions of majority to make Missouri Compromise void  “It did not… forfeit property or take property…. It only prohibited slavery”
  6. 6. Long Term Effects  Justice Taney wanted to settle future disputes over slavery, but instead acted as a catalyst to Civil War   Abolitionists were incredibly upset and southerners declared them to be enemies of the Union Southerners could saw law supported slavery  Case is considered by some to be the worst decision the Supreme Court has ever made  Deemed African Americans as property instead of people  There is still prejudice in the US today
  7. 7. Plessy v. Ferguson  Louisiana passed Separate Car Act in 1890  All transportation had to offer separate accommodations for whites and non whites  Penalties included a $25 fine or up to 25 days in county jail  A group of all black citizens joined a railroad company   Homer Plessy was 1/8 black and bought a first class ticket Sat in the white railroad car and was arrested  Plessy argued the Separate Car Act violated 13th and 14th Amendments
  8. 8. Majority Opinion  “It [the 14th Amendment] could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color or… enforce… a commingling of the two races”Justice Henry Billings Brown  Majority decided equality does not mean there cannot be distinctions  The majority of 7 to 2 justices ruled that social prejudices could not be fixed by legislation  Supreme Court approved the idea of “separate but equal”
  9. 9. Dissenting Opinion  “In the eye of the law, there is in this country no superior, dominant, ruling class of citizens”-Justice John Marshall Harlan  Both citizens and civil liberties should be blind to color  “What can more certainly arouse hate that state enactments which proceed on the ground that colored citizens are so inferior and degraded that they cannot be allowed to sit in public coaches occupied by white citizens”  The majority opinion would only serve to stir up more anxiety and hatred in the United States
  10. 10. Long Term Effects  The decision in Plessy v. Ferguson set a tone for the interactions between the two races for 58 years  Justice Marshall predicted correctly; tensions were increased  Many said the “presence of segregation was the absence of democracy”  It is true accommodations in the United States were separate, but they were rarely equal  Jim Crow laws were enacted following the case separated races in almost all public places in the south and sometimes in the north  The decision of Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 reversed the decision in 1896 to separate races
  11. 11. Miranda v. Arizona  A woman in Phoenix was kidnapped and raped  Identified Ernesto Miranda in a lineup  Miranda confessed to crime in interrogation but was not told of 5th amendment rights beforehand  Convicted and sentenced to 20-30 years of prison  Case went to Arizona Supreme Court, then Supreme Court along with 3 other cases    Vignera v. New York Westover v. United States California v. Steward
  12. 12. Majority Opinion  “The prosecution may not use statements… from interrogation… unless it demonstrates the use of procedure to secure the privilege against selfincrimination.” -Chief Justice Earl Warren  Did not want defendants to self-incriminate due to intimidation and pressure in interrogation  If suspect wants to remain silent, questioning must stop  Justices decided circumstances where statements were received did not meet constitutional standards  Ruled in favor of Miranda
  13. 13. Dissenting Opinion  “I believe the decision of the Court represents poor constitutional law and entails harmful consequences for the country at large.” – Justice Harlan  The four justices commented that the decision would ultimately discourage confession  Believed the decision would also prove as an obstacle for future investigations
  14. 14. Long Term Effects  The 5-4 decision to uphold these basic rights of a suspect has completely changed police procedures  The “Miranda Rights” is the formal warning all officers must give suspects in accordance with the decision in 1966     Right to remain silent Right to an attorney Right to state appointed attorneys Anything said can be used in a court of law  It is harder for defendants to claim intimidation or unlawful interrogations