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Landmark supreme court cases


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Landmark Supreme Court cases in the USA. Legal English. Conversation topics.

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Landmark supreme court cases

  1. 1. Landmark Supreme Court Cases Legal English resources & conversation topics.
  2. 2. Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988) BACKGROUND A Principle of a High School ordered two pages from the school newspaper to be deleted. The two pages included articles on teen pregnancy and the impact of divorce on students in the school Constitutional Issue: Does the 1st amendment freedom of speech prevent school administrators from regulating student speech Court Decision: 5 to 3 against students, school cans regulate students speech
  3. 3. Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) BACKGROUND Gideon, a petty thief who had served four prison terms, was arrested for breaking into a poolroom in Panama City, Fl and stealing wine & cigarettes. He asked the judge to appoint him an attorney and was denied because Florida law only provided one for a capital crime where death could a penalty. Constitutional Issue: Is a defendant who cannot afford an attorney deprived the 6th amendment right to counsel. Court Decision: Courts ruled in his favour
  4. 4. West Virginia Education v. Barnette (1943) BACKGROUND West Virginia implemented a compulsory flag salute in public schools. Students who did not comply were punished by expulsion. Barnette’s children were Jehovah’s Witnesses (a religious group who refused to participate in these events) were expelled from school. They appealed to the supreme court Constitutional Issue: Did mandatory flag salute violate the 14th amendment = equal protection clause & the 1st amendment = freedom of religion Court Decision: Courts ruled 6-3 in favour of the Barnette’s in terms of the 1st amendment
  5. 5. Miranda v. Arizona (1966) BACKGROUND Ernesto Miranda was arrested at his home, accused of rape & kidnapping. Questioned at the police station he was not advised of his right to be silent & to have an attorney. After two hours of questioning he signed a written confession. He was found guilty and sentenced to 30 years in prison. He appealed to the Supreme court. Constitutional Issue: Did the questioning and the environment violate the 5th amendment Court Decision: Courts ruled 5-4 in favour of the Miranda saying it did violate the 5st amendment. Miranda Rights are the result of this case.
  6. 6. Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972) BACKGROUND Amish, a religious group who separate themselves from the modern world and operate their own elementary schools. However their education ends at 8th grade. The state required all children to attend school until they were 16 years old. They refused to obey this law and send their children to a public school. Constitutional Issue: Did the 1st amendment (freedom of religion) protect them from being forced to send their children to public high school if it was against their religious beliefs Court Decision: Courts ruled 6-3 that Amish could not be forced to send their children to a public school once they had completed 8 th grade.
  7. 7. District of Columbia v Heller BACKGROUND The possession of a handgun is banned under District of Columbia law. The law prohibits the registration of handguns and makes it a crime to carry an unregistered firearm. Furthermore all lawfully owned firearms must be kept unloaded and dissembled or bound by a trigger lock unless they are being used for lawful recreational activities Constitutional Issue: 2nd amendment: right to bear arms Court Decision: Courts ruled in Heller’s favor, stating it violated his 2nd amendment right. States cannot not pass laws pertaining to the right to bear arms if it violated the federal law
  8. 8. Bush v. Gore BACKGROUND The 2000 presidential election was a very close tie. Who would be become president depended on Florida. Florida voted by punching a hole in the ballot card and the votes were counted by machine. About 60, 000 ballots were not counted because the machine did not detect holes. Gore appealed to Florida Supreme Court and Florida recounted the ballets. Bush appealed to U.S Supreme Court. Constitutional Issue: Can the U.S Supreme Court over-rule state court decisions and also whether appointed judiciary affects democratic elections Court Decision: Courts ruled 5-4 to end hand recounts and announced the next president.
  9. 9. Tinker v. Des Moines BACKGROUND Students in Des Moines decided to take part in a political protest about the Vietnam War by wearing black armbands to schools. Two days before the protest, the school board created a new policy banning armbands and anyone who did was suspended for two days. Constitutional Issue: Can the school officials prohibit students from warming armbands to symbolize political protest. Court Decision: Courts rules 7-2 in favor of the students. Symbolic speech can not be punished if it is peaceful.
  10. 10. Mapp v. Carr (1962 BACKGROUND While searching for a bombing suspect, police found evidence of a separate crime. The police did not have the right to enter the house nor have a search warrant. Constitutional Issue: Can evidence discovered in the process of illegal search be used as evidence Court Decision: Courts rules 5-3 in favor of Mapp, stating that illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in a state court. Exclusionary rule now applies
  11. 11. The end