We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Unit 1 Court Cases

Baker v. Carr (1962)
Facts of the Case:
Charles W. Baker and other Tennessee citizens alleged that a 1901 law designed to apportion the seats for the state's general assembly was virtually ignored. Baker's suit detailed how Tennessee's reapportionment efforts ignored significant economic growth and population shifts within the state.

Question:
Did the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over questions of legislative apportionment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In an opinion which explored the nature of "political questions" and the appropriateness of Court action in them, the Court held that there were no such questions to be answered in this case and that legislative apportionment was a justiciable issue. In his opinion, Justice Brennan provided past examples in which the Court had intervened to correct constitutional violations in matters pertaining to state administration and the officers through whom state affairs are conducted. Brennan concluded that the Fourteenth Amendment equal protection issues which Baker and others raised in this case merited judicial evaluation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_6)


Buck v. Bell (1927)
Facts of the Case:
Carrie Buck was a feeble minded woman who was committed to a state mental institution. Her condition had been present in her family for the last three generations. A Virginia law allowed for the sexual sterilization of inmates of institutions to promote the "health of the patient and the welfare of society." Before the procedure could be performed, however, a hearing was required to determine whether or not the operation was a wise thing to do.

Question:
Did the Virginia statute which authorized sterilization deny Buck the right to due process of the law and the equal protection of the laws as protected by the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. The Court found that the statute did not violate the Constitution. Justice Holmes made clear that Buck's challenge was not upon the medical procedure involved but on the process of the substantive law. Since sterilization could not occur until a proper hearing had occurred (at which the patient and a guardian could be present) and after the Circuit Court of the County and the Supreme Court of Appeals had reviewed the case, if so requested by the patient. Only after "months of observation" could the operation take place. That was enough to satisfy the Court that there was no Constitutional violation. Citing the best interests of the state, Justice Holmes affirmed the value of a law like Virginia's in order to prevent the nation from "being swamped with incompetence...Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Buck v. Bell, 274 U.S. 200 (1927) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1926/1926_292)


Bush v. Gore (2000)
Facts of the Case:
Following the Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Palm Beach County Canvassing Board, and concurrent with Vice President Al Gore's contest of the certification of Florida presidential election results, on December 8, 2000 the Florida Supreme Court ordered that the Circuit Court in Leon County tabulate by hand 9,000 contested ballots from Miami-Dade County. It also ordered that every county in Florida must immediately begin manually recounting all "under-votes" (ballots which did not indicate a vote for president) because there were enough contested ballots to place the outcome of the election in doubt. Texas Governor George Bush and his running mate, Richard Cheney, filed a request for review in the U.S. Supreme Court and sought an emergency petition for a stay of the Florida Supreme Court's decision. The U.S. Supreme Court granted review and issued the stay on December 9. It heard oral arguments two days later.

Question:
Did the Florida Supreme Court violate Article II, Section 1, Clause 2 of the Constitution by making new election law? Do standardless manual recounts violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses?

Conclusion:
Noting that the Equal Protection Clause guarantees individuals that their ballots cannot be devalued by "later arbitrary and disparate treatment," the unsigned opinion issued on behalf of the entire Court held 7-2 that the Florida Supreme Court's scheme for recounting ballots was unconstitutional. Even if the recount were fair in theory, it was unfair in practice. The record suggested that different standards were applied from ballot to ballot, precinct to precinct, and county to county. Because of those and other procedural difficulties, the court held that no constitutional recount could be fashioned in the time remaining (which was short because the Florida legislature wanted to take advantage of the "safe harbor" provided by 3 U.S.C. Sec. 5). Loath to make broad precedents, the opinion limited its holding to the present case. Rehnquist (in a concurring opinion joined by Scalia and Thomas) argued that the recount scheme was also unconstitutional because the Florida Supreme Court's decision made new election law, which only the state legislature may do. Breyer and Souter (writing separately) agreed with the Court's holding that the Florida supreme court's recount scheme violated the Equal Protection Clause, but they dissented with respect to the remedy, believing that a constitutional recount could be fashioned. Time is insubstantial when constitutional rights are at stake. Ginsburg and Stevens (writing separately) argued that for reasons of federalism, the Florida supreme court's decision ought to be respected. Moreover, the Florida decision was fundamentally right; the Constitution requires that every vote be counted.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Bush v. Gore, 531 U.S. 98 (2000) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_00_949)


Clinton v. City of New York (1997)
Facts of the Case:
This case consolidates two separate challenges to the constitutionality of two cancellations, made by President William J. Clinton, under the Line Item Veto Act ("Act"). In the first, the City of New York, two hospital associations, a hospital, and two health care unions, challenged the president's cancellation of a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which relinquished the federal government's ability to recoup nearly $2.6 billion in taxes levied against Medicaid providers by the State of New York. In the second, the Snake River farmers' cooperative and one of its individual members challenged the president's cancellation of a provision of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The provision permitted some food refiners and processors to defer recognition of their capital gains in exchange for selling their stock to eligible farmers' cooperatives. After a district court held the Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court heard the case on expedited appeal.

Question:
Did the president's ability to selectively cancel individual portions of bills, under the Line Item Veto Act, violate the presentment clause of Article I?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision the Court first established that both the City of New York and its affiliates, and the farmers' cooperative suffered sufficiently immediate and concrete injuries to sustain their standing to challenge the president's actions. The Court then explained that under the presentment clause, legislation that passes both houses of Congress must either be entirely approved (i.e. signed) or rejected (i.e. vetoed) by the president. The Court held that by canceling only selected portions of the bills at issue, under authority granted him by the Act, the President in effect "amended" the laws before him. Such discretion, the Court concluded, violated the "finely wrought" legislative procedures of Article I as envisioned by the Framers.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_97_1374)


Clinton v. City of New York (1997)
Facts of the Case:
This case consolidates two separate challenges to the constitutionality of two cancellations, made by President William J. Clinton, under the Line Item Veto Act ("Act"). In the first, the City of New York, two hospital associations, a hospital, and two health care unions, challenged the president's cancellation of a provision in the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 which relinquished the federal government's ability to recoup nearly $2.6 billion in taxes levied against Medicaid providers by the State of New York. In the second, the Snake River farmers' cooperative and one of its individual members challenged the president's cancellation of a provision of the Taxpayer Relief Act of 1997. The provision permitted some food refiners and processors to defer recognition of their capital gains in exchange for selling their stock to eligible farmers' cooperatives. After a district court held the Act unconstitutional, the Supreme Court heard the case on expedited appeal.

Question:
Did the president's ability to selectively cancel individual portions of bills, under the Line Item Veto Act, violate the presentment clause of Article I?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 6-to-3 decision the Court first established that both the City of New York and its affiliates, and the farmers' cooperative suffered sufficiently immediate and concrete injuries to sustain their standing to challenge the president's actions. The Court then explained that under the presentment clause, legislation that passes both houses of Congress must either be entirely approved (i.e. signed) or rejected (i.e. vetoed) by the president. The Court held that by canceling only selected portions of the bills at issue, under authority granted him by the Act, the President in effect "amended" the laws before him. Such discretion, the Court concluded, violated the "finely wrought" legislative procedures of Article I as envisioned by the Framers.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_97_1374)


Clinton v. Jones (1997)
Facts of the Case:
Paula Corbin Jones sued President Bill Clinton. She alleged that while she was an Arkansas state employee, she suffered several "abhorrent" sexual advances from then Arkansas Governor Clinton. Jones claimed that her continued rejection of Clinton's advances ultimately resulted in punishment by her state supervisors. Following a district court's grant of Clinton's request that all matters relating to the suit be suspended, pending a ruling on his prior request to have the suit dismissed on grounds of presidential immunity, Clinton sought to invoke his immunity to completely dismiss the Jones suit against him. While the district judge denied Clinton's immunity request, the judge ordered the stay of any trial in the matter until after Clinton's presidency. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit affirmed the dismissal denial but reversed the trial deferment ruling since it would be a "functional equivalent" to an unlawful grant of temporary presidential immunity.

Question:
Is a serving president, for separation of powers reasons, entitled to absolute immunity from civil litigation arising out of events which transpired prior to his taking office?

Conclusion:
No. In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that the Constitution does not grant a sitting president immunity from civil litigation except under highly unusual circumstances. After noting the great respect and dignity owed to the executive office, the Court held that neither separation of powers nor the need for confidentiality of high-level information can justify an unqualified presidential immunity from judicial process. While the independence of our government's branches must be protected under the doctrine of separation of powers, the Constitution does not prohibit these branches from exercising any control over one another. This, the Court added, is true despite the procedural burdens which Article III jurisdiction may impose on the time, attention, and resources of the chief executive.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1853)


Ex Parte Milligan (1866)
Facts of the Case:
Lambden P. Milligan was sentenced to death by a military commission in Indiana during the Civil War; he had engaged in acts of disloyalty. Milligan sought release through habeas corpus from a federal court.

Question:
Does a civil court have jurisdiction over a military tribunal?

Conclusion:
Yes. Davis, speaking for the Court, held that trials of civilians by presidentially created military commissions are unconstitutional. Martial law cannot exist where the civil courts are operating.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (1866) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1865/1865_0)


Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Facts of the Case:
Griswold was the executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the medical director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counseling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.

Question:
Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple's ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?

Conclusion:
Yes. Though the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. Together, the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, create a new constitutional right, the right to privacy in marital relations. The Connecticut statute conflicts with the exercise of this right and is therefore null and void.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1964/1964_496)


Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006)
Facts of the Case:
Salim Ahmed Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former chauffeur, was captured by Afghani forces and imprisoned by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay. He filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus in federal district court to challenge his detention. Before the district court ruled on the petition, he received a hearing from a military tribunal, which designated him an enemy combatant. A few months later, the district court granted Hamdan's habeas petition, ruling that he must first be given a hearing to determine whether he was a prisoner of war under the Geneva Convention before he could be tried by a military commission. The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia reversed the decision, however, finding that the Geneva Convention could not be enforced in federal court and that the establishment of military tribunals had been authorized by Congress and was therefore not unconstitutional.

Question:
May the rights protected by the Geneva Convention be enforced in federal court through habeas corpus petitions? Was the military commission established to try Hamdan and others for alleged war crimes in the War on Terror authorized by the Congress or the inherent powers of the president?

Conclusion:
Yes. No. The Supreme Court, in a 5-to-3 decision authored by Justice John Paul Stevens, held that neither an act of Congress nor the inherent powers of the executive laid out in the Constitution expressly authorized the sort of military commission at issue in this case. Absent that express authorization, the commission had to comply with the ordinary laws of the United States and the laws of war. The Geneva Convention, as a part of the ordinary laws of war, could therefore be enforced by the Supreme Court, along with the statutory Uniform Code of Military Justice. Hamdan's exclusion from certain parts of his trial deemed classified by the military commission violated both of these, and the trial was therefore illegal. Justices Scalia, Thomas, and Alito dissented. Chief Justice John Roberts, who participated in the case while serving on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, did not take part in the decision.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. ___ (2006) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2005/2005_05_184)


Harper v. Virginia (1966)
Facts of the Case:
Annie E. Harper, a resident of Virginia, filed suit alleging that the state's poll tax was unconstitutional. After a three-judge district court dismissed the complaint, the case went to the Supreme Court. This case was decided together with Butts v. Harrison.

Question:
Did the Virginia poll tax violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that making voter affluence an electoral standard violated the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found that wealth or fee-paying had no relation to voting qualifications. The Court also noted that the Equal Protection Clause was not "shackled to the political theory of a particular era" and that notions of what constituted equal treatment under the clause were subject to change.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections, 383 U.S. 663 (1966) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_48)


Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff (1984)
Facts of the Case:
After extensive hearings in the mid-1960s, the Hawaii legislature discovered that while federal and state governments owned nearly 49 percent of the land in Hawaii, another 47 percent was owned by only 72 private landowners. To combat this concentration of ownership, the legislature enacted the Land Reform Act of 1967. The Act adopted a method of redistribution in which title in real property could be taken from lessors and transferred to lessees. Frank E. Midkiff, a landholder, challenged the act.

Question:
Did the Land Reform Act of 1967 violate the public use clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that the Public Use Clause did not preclude Hawaii from taking title in real property, with just compensation, for the purpose of reducing the concentration of ownership. Noting that Hawaii's statute was rationally related to a conceivable public purpose, the Court argued that "debates over the wisdom of takings" were best carried out by legislatures, not by federal courts. The Court also held that the fact that the property taken by eminent domain was transferred to private beneficiaries did not condemn the law to having a solely private purpose.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Hawaii Housing Authority v. Midkiff, 467 U.S. 229 (1984) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_141)


INS v. Chadha (1983)
Facts of the Case:
In one section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress authorized either house of Congress to invalidate and suspend deportation rulings of the United States Attorney General. Chadha had stayed in the U.S. past his visa deadline and was ordered to leave the country. The House of Representatives suspended the immigration judge's deportation ruling. This case was decided together with United States House of Representatives v. Chadha and United States Senate v. Chadha.

Question:
Did the Immigration and Nationality Act, which allowed a one-House veto of executive actions, violate the separation of powers doctrine?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court held that the particular section of the act in question did violate the Constitution. Recounting the debates of the Constitutional Convention over issues of bicameralism and separation of powers, Chief Justice Burger concluded that even though the act would have enhanced governmental efficiency, it violated the "explicit constitutional standards" regarding lawmaking and congressional authority.

Citation
The Oyez Project, INS v. Chadha, 462 U.S. 919 (1983) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_80_1832)


Katz v. United States (1967)
Facts of the Case:
Acting on a suspicion that Katz was transmitting gambling information over the phone to clients in other states, federal agents attached an eavesdropping device to the outside of a public phone booth he used without first obtaining a search warrant. Based on recordings of his end of the conversations, Katz was convicted under an eight-count indictment for the illegal transmission of wagering information from Los Angeles to Boston and Miami. On appeal, Katz challenged his conviction arguing that the recordings could not be used as evidence against him. The court of appeals rejected this point, noting the absence of a physical intrusion into the phone booth itself.

Question:
Does the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures require the police to obtain a search warrant in order to wiretap a public pay phone?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court ruled that Katz was entitled to Fourth Amendment protection for his conversations and that a physical intrusion into the area he occupied was unnecessary to bring the amendment into play. "The Fourth Amendment protects people, not places," wrote Justice Potter Stewart for the Court. A concurring opinion by John Marshall Harlan introduced the idea of a 'reasonable' expectation of Fourth Amendment protection.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_35)


Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
Facts of the Case:
New London, a city in Connecticut, used its eminent domain authority to seize private property to sell to private developers. The city said developing the land would create jobs and increase tax revenues. Kelo Susette and others whose property were seized sued New London in state court. The property owners argued the city violated the Fifth Amendment's takings clause, which guaranteed the government will not take private property for public use without just compensation. Specifically the property owners argued taking private property to sell to private developers was not public use. The Connecticut Supreme Court ruled for New London.

Question:
Does a city violate the Fifth Amendment's takings clause if the city takes private property and sells it for private development, with the hopes the development will help the city's bad economy?

Conclusion:
No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice John Paul Stevens, the majority held that the city's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause. The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. Such justifications for land takings, the majority argued, should be given deference. The takings here qualified as "public use" despite the fact that the land was not going to be used by the public. The Fifth Amendment did not require "literal" public use, the majority said, but the "broader and more natural interpretation of public use as 'public purpose.'"

Citation
The Oyez Project, Kelo v. City of New London, 545 U.S. ___ (2005) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_04_108)


Luther v. Borden (1849)
Facts of the Case:
In 1841, Rhode Island was still operating under an archaic system of government established by a royal charter of 1663. The charter strictly limited suffrage and made no provision for amendment. Dissident groups, protesting the charter, held a popular convention to draft a new constitution and to elect a governor. The old charter government declared martial law and put down the rebellion, although no federal troops were sent. One of the insurgents, Martin Luther, brought suit claiming the old government was not "a republican form of government" and all its acts were thereby invalid.

Question:
Did the Court have the constitutional authority to declare which group constituted the official government of Rhode Island?

Conclusion:
No. The Court held that "the power of determining that a state government has been lawfully established" did not belong to federal courts, and that it was not the function of such courts to prescribe the qualifications for voting in the states. The Court held that the creation of republican forms of government and the control of domestic violence were matters of an essentially political nature committed by the Constitution to the other branches of government. Hence, the Court should defer to Congress and the president when confronted with such issues.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1848/1848_2)


Luther v. Borden (1849)
Facts of the Case:
In 1841, Rhode Island was still operating under an archaic system of government established by a royal charter of 1663. The charter strictly limited suffrage and made no provision for amendment. Dissident groups, protesting the charter, held a popular convention to draft a new constitution and to elect a governor. The old charter government declared martial law and put down the rebellion, although no federal troops were sent. One of the insurgents, Martin Luther, brought suit claiming the old government was not "a republican form of government" and all its acts were thereby invalid.

Question:
Did the Court have the constitutional authority to declare which group constituted the official government of Rhode Island?

Conclusion:
No. The Court held that "the power of determining that a state government has been lawfully established" did not belong to federal courts, and that it was not the function of such courts to prescribe the qualifications for voting in the states. The Court held that the creation of republican forms of government and the control of domestic violence were matters of an essentially political nature committed by the Constitution to the other branches of government. Hence, the Court should defer to Congress and the president when confronted with such issues.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1848/1848_2)


Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Facts of the Case:
Dolree Mapp was convicted of possessing obscene materials after an admittedly illegal police search of her home for a fugitive. She appealed her conviction on the basis of freedom of expression.

Question:
Were the confiscated materials protected by the First Amendment? May evidence obtained through a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment be admitted in a state criminal proceeding?

Conclusion:
Not applicable. No. 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.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1960/1960_236)


Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Facts of the Case:
The case began on March 2, 1801, when an obscure Federalist, William Marbury, was designated as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. Marbury and several others were appointed to government posts created by Congress in the last days of John Adams's presidency, but these last-minute appointments were never fully finalized. The disgruntled appointees invoked an act of Congress and sued for their jobs in the Supreme Court.

Question:
Is Marbury entitled to his appointment? Is his lawsuit the correct way to get it? And, is the Supreme Court the place for Marbury to get the relief he requests?

Conclusion:
Yes. Yes. It depends. The justices held, through Marshall's forceful argument, that on the last issue the Constitution was "the fundamental and paramount law of the nation" and that "an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void." In other words, when the Constitution--the nation's highest law--conflicts with an act of the legislature, that act is invalid. This case establishes the Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1803/1803_0)


Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Facts of the Case:
The case began on March 2, 1801, when an obscure Federalist, William Marbury, was designated as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. Marbury and several others were appointed to government posts created by Congress in the last days of John Adams's presidency, but these last-minute appointments were never fully finalized. The disgruntled appointees invoked an act of Congress and sued for their jobs in the Supreme Court.

Question:
Is Marbury entitled to his appointment? Is his lawsuit the correct way to get it? And, is the Supreme Court the place for Marbury to get the relief he requests?

Conclusion:
Yes. Yes. It depends. The justices held, through Marshall's forceful argument, that on the last issue the Constitution was "the fundamental and paramount law of the nation" and that "an act of the legislature repugnant to the constitution is void." In other words, when the Constitution--the nation's highest law--conflicts with an act of the legislature, that act is invalid. This case establishes the Supreme Court's power of judicial review.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1803/1803_0)


Minersville v. Gobitis (1940)
Facts of the Case:
Lillian and William Gobitis were expelled from the public schools of Minersville, Pennsylvania, for refusing to salute the flag as part of a daily school exercise. The Gobitis children were Jehovah's Witnesses; they believed that such a gesture of respect for the flag was forbidden by Biblical commands.

Question:
Did the mandatory flag salute infringe upon liberties protected by the First and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion:
No. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court declined to make itself "the school board for the country" and upheld the mandatory flag salute. The Court held that the state's interest in "national cohesion" was "inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values" and that national unity was "the basis of national security." The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could be a part of legislative initiatives designed "to promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country." This decision was overturned in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette (1943).

Citation
The Oyez Project, Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 310 U.S. 586 (1940) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1939/1939_690)


National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel (1937)
Facts of the Case:
With the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, Congress determined that labor-management disputes were directly related to the flow of interstate commerce and, thus, could be regulated by the national government. In this case, the National Labor Relations Board charged the Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. with discriminating against employees who were union members.

Question:
Was the act consistent with the Commerce Clause?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court held that the act was narrowly constructed so as to regulate industrial activities which had the potential to restrict interstate commerce. The justices abandoned their claim that labor relations had only an indirect effect on commerce. Since the ability of employees to engage in collective bargaining (one activity protected by the act) is "an essential condition of industrial peace," the national government was justified in penalizing corporations engaging in interstate commerce which "refuse to confer and negotiate" with their workers.

Citation
The Oyez Project, NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1 (1937) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1936/1936_419)


New Jersey v. TLO (1985)
Facts of the Case:
T.L.O. was fourteen years old; she was accused of smoking in the girls' bathroom of her high school. A principal at the school questioned her and searched her purse, yielding a bag of marijuana and other drug paraphernalia.

Question:
Did the search violate the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments?

Conclusion:
No. Citing the peculiarities associated with searches on school grounds, the Court abandoned its requirement that searches be conducted only when a "probable cause" exists that an individual has violated the law. The Court used a less strict standard of "reasonableness" to conclude that the search did not violate the Constitution. The presence of rolling papers in the purse gave rise to a reasonable suspicion in the principal's mind that T.L.O. may have been carrying drugs, thus, justifying a more thorough search of the purse.

Citation
The Oyez Project, New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1983/1983_83_712)


Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
Facts of the Case:
The Pennsylvania legislature amended its abortion control law in 1988 and 1989. Among the new provisions, the law required informed consent and a 24 hour waiting period prior to the procedure. A minor seeking an abortion required the consent of one parent (the law allows for a judicial bypass procedure). A married woman seeking an abortion had to indicate that she notified her husband of her intention to abort the fetus. These provisions were challenged by several abortion clinics and physicians. A federal appeals court upheld all the provisions except for the husband notification requirement.

Question:
Can a state require women who want an abortion to obtain informed consent, wait 24 hours, and, if minors, obtain parental consent, without violating their right to abortions as guaranteed by Roe v. Wade?

Conclusion:
Sometimes. In a bitter 5-to-4 decision, the Court again reaffirmed Roe, but it upheld most of the Pennsylvania provisions. For the first time, the justices imposed a new standard to determine the validity of laws restricting abortions. The new standard asks whether a state abortion regulation has the purpose or effect of imposing an "undue burden," which is defined as a "substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability." Under this standard, the only provision to fail the undue-burden test was the husband notification requirement. The opinion for the Court was unique: It was crafted and authored by three justices.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1991/1991_91_744)


Rumsfeld v. Padilla (2004)
Facts of the Case:
Jose Padilla, an American citizen, was arrested in Chicago's O'Hare International Airport after returning from Pakistan in 2002. He was initially detained as a material witness in the government's investigation of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, but was later declared an "enemy combatant" by the Department of Defense, meaning that he could be held in prison indefinitely without access to an attorney or to the courts. The FBI claimed that he was returning to the United States to carry out acts of terrorism. Donna Newman, who had represented him while he was being held as a material witness, filed a petition for habeas corpus on his behalf. The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York ruled that Newman had standing to file the petition despite the fact that Padilla had been moved to a military brig in South Carolina. However, the court also found that the Department of Defense, under the president's constitutional powers as Commander in Chief and the statutory authorization provided by Congress's Authorization for Use of Military Force, had the power to detain Padilla as an enemy combatant. The district judge rejected Newman's argument that the detention was prohibited by the federal Non-Detention Act, which states that no "citizen shall be imprisoned or otherwise detained by the United States except pursuant to an Act of Congress." On appeal, a divided Second Circuit Court of Appeals panel reversed the district court's "enemy combatant" ruling. The panel found that the Authorization for Use of Military force did not meet the requirement of the Non-Detention Act and that the president could not, therefore, declare American citizens captured outside a combat zone as enemy combatants.

Question:
Does Congress's "Authorization for use of Military Force" authorize the president to detain a United States citizen based on a determination that he is an enemy combatant, or is that power precluded by the Non-Detention Act?

Conclusion:
The Court did not reach a decision on the merits in this case. Instead, in 5-to-4 opinion written by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court found that the case had been improperly filed. Under federal law, a petition for a writ of habeas corpus can only be filed against the person directly responsible for a prisoner's confinement or, put another way, the person with the power to bring the prisoner to court. In most cases this person is the warden of the petitioner's prison; in this case, it was the commander of the military brig in which Padilla was held. Because Padilla's attorney had listed Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as the defendant, instead of the brig commander, and because the suit was filed in New York instead of in South Carolina, where the commander lived and worked, the Court found that the case would have to be re-filed in a federal district court in South Carolina. Justices Stevens, Souter, Ginsberg and Breyer dissented, finding that an exception should be made to the jurisdictional rule because the government had moved Padilla to South Carolina without giving his attorney notice to file the habeas writ.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Rumsfeld v. Padilla, 542 U.S. 426 (2004) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2003/2003_03_1027)


Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States (1935)
Facts of the Case:
Section 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act empowered the president to implement industrial codes to regulate weekly employment hours, wages, and minimum ages of employees. The codes had standing as penal statutes.

Question:
Did Congress unconstitutionally delegate legislative power to the president?

Conclusion:
The Court held that Section 3 was "without precedent" and violated the Constitution. The law did not establish rules or standards to evaluate industrial activity. In other words, it did not make codes, but simply empowered the president to do so. A unanimous Court found this to be an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1934/1934_854)


Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States (1935)
Facts of the Case:
Section 3 of the National Industrial Recovery Act empowered the president to implement industrial codes to regulate weekly employment hours, wages, and minimum ages of employees. The codes had standing as penal statutes.

Question:
Did Congress unconstitutionally delegate legislative power to the president?

Conclusion:
The Court held that Section 3 was "without precedent" and violated the Constitution. The law did not establish rules or standards to evaluate industrial activity. In other words, it did not make codes, but simply empowered the president to do so. A unanimous Court found this to be an unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States, 295 U.S. 495 (1935) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1934/1934_854)


Schenck v. United States (1919)
Facts of the Case:
During World War I, Schenck mailed circulars to draftees. The circulars suggested that the draft was a monstrous wrong motivated by the capitalist system. The circulars urged "Do not submit to intimidation" but advised only peaceful action such as petitioning to repeal the Conscription Act. Schenck was charged with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act by attempting to cause insubordination in the military and to obstruct recruitment.

Question:
Are Schenck's actions (words, expression) protected by the free speech clause of the First Amendment?

Conclusion:
Holmes, speaking for a unanimous Court, concluded that Schenck is not protected in this situation. The character of every act depends on the circumstances. "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." During wartime, utterances tolerable in peacetime can be punished. The clear and present danger test established in Schenck would later be modified in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969) as the imminent lawless action test.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Schenck v. United States, 249 U.S. 47 (1919) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1918/1918_437)


Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson (1942)
Facts of the Case:
Oklahoma's Criminal Sterilization Act allowed the state to sterilize a person who had been convicted three or more times of crimes "amounting to felonies involving moral turpitude."

Question:
Did the act violate the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. A unanimous Court held that the Act violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Since some crimes such as embezzlement, punishable as felonies in Oklahoma, were excluded from the act's jurisdiction, Justice Douglas reasoned that the law had laid "an unequal hand on those who have committed intrinsically the same quality of offense." Moreover, Douglas viewed procreation as one of the fundamental rights requiring the judiciary's strict scrutiny.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Skinner v. Oklahoma ex rel. Williamson, 316 U.S. 535 (1942) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1940-1949/1941/1941_782)


Terry v. Ohio (1968)
Facts of the Case:
Terry and two other men were observed by a plain clothes policeman in what the officer believed to be "casing a job, a stick-up." The officer stopped and frisked the three men, and found weapons on two of them. Terry was convicted of carrying a concealed weapon and sentenced to three years in jail.

Question:
Did the search and seizure of Terry and the other men violate of the Fourth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. In an 8-to-1 decision, the Court held that the search undertaken by the officer was reasonable under the Fourth Amendment and that the weapons seized could be introduced into evidence against Terry. Attempting to focus narrowly on the facts of this particular case, the Court found that the officer acted on more than a "hunch" and that "a reasonably prudent man would have been warranted in believing [Terry] was armed and thus presented a threat to the officer's safety while he was investigating his suspicious behavior." The Court found that the searches undertaken were limited in scope and designed to protect the officer's safety incident to the investigation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_67)


Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Facts of the Case:
In 1984, in front of the Dallas City Hall, Gregory Lee Johnson burned an American flag as a means of protest against Reagan administration policies. Johnson was tried and convicted under a Texas law outlawing flag desecration. He was sentenced to one year in jail and assessed a $2,000 fine. After the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals reversed the conviction, the case went to the Supreme Court.

Question:
Is the desecration of an American flag, by burning or otherwise, a form of speech that is protected under the First Amendment?

Conclusion:
In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that Johnson's burning of a flag was protected expression under the First Amendment. The Court found that Johnson's actions fell into the category of expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature. The fact that an audience takes offense to certain ideas or expression, the Court found, does not justify prohibitions of speech. The Court also held that state officials did not have the authority to designate symbols to be used to communicate only limited sets of messages, noting that "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."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_88_155)


United States v. Butler (1936)
Facts of the Case:
As part of the 1933 Agricultural Adjustment Act, Congress implemented a processing tax on agricultural commodities, from which funds would be redistributed to farmers who promised to reduce their acreage. The act intended to solve the crisis in agricultural commodity prices which was causing many farmers to go under.

Question:
Did Congress exceed its constitutional taxing and spending powers with the act?

Conclusion:
The Court found the act unconstitutional because it attempted to regulate and control agricultural production, an arena reserved to the states. Even though Congress does have the power to tax and appropriate funds, argued Justice Roberts, in this case those activities were "but means to an unconstitutional end," and violated the Tenth Amendment.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Butler, 297 U.S. 1 (1936) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1935/1935_401)


United States v. Darby (1941)
Facts of the Case:
In 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act to regulate many aspects of employment including minimum wages, maximum weekly hours, and child labor. Corporations that did not comply and which engaged in interstate commerce or produced goods which were sold in other states were punished for violating the statute.

Question:
Was the act a legitimate exercise of Congress's power to regulate interstate commerce?

Conclusion:
Yes. The unanimous Court affirmed the right of Congress to exercise "to its utmost extent" the powers reserved for it in the Commerce Clause. Relying heavily on the Court's decision in Gibbons v. Ogden (1824), Justice Stone argued that the "motive and purpose of a regulation of interstate commerce are matters for the legislative judgment...over which the courts are given no control." Congress acted with proper authority in outlawing substandard labor conditions since they have a significant impact on interstate commerce.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Darby, 312 U.S. 100 (1941) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1940-1949/1940/1940_82)


United States v. Lopez (1995)
Facts of the Case:
Alfonzo Lopez, a twelfth grade high school student, carried a concealed weapon into his San Antonio, Texas high school. He was charged under Texas law with firearm possession on school premises. The next day, the state charges were dismissed after federal agents charged Lopez with violating a federal criminal statute, the Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. The act forbids "any individual knowingly to possess a firearm at a place that [he] knows...is a school zone." Lopez was found guilty following a bench trial and sentenced to six months' imprisonment and two years' supervised release.

Question:
Is the 1990 Gun-Free School Zones Act, forbidding individuals from knowingly carrying a gun in a school zone, unconstitutional because it exceeds the power of Congress to legislate under the Commerce Clause?

Conclusion:
Yes. The possession of a gun in a local school zone is not an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. The law is a criminal statute that has nothing to do with "commerce" or any sort of economic activity.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_93_1260)


United States v. Nixon (1974)
Facts of the Case:
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.

Question:
Is the President's right to safeguard certain information, using his "executive privilege" confidentiality power, entirely immune from judicial review?

Conclusion:
No. 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.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1974/1974_73_1766)


Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
Facts of the Case:
Jonas Yoder and Wallace Miller, both members of the Old Order Amish religion, and Adin Yutzy, a member of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church, were prosecuted under a Wisconsin law that required all children to attend public schools until age 16. The three parents refused to send their children to such schools after the eighth grade, arguing that high school attendance was contrary to their religious beliefs.

Question:
Did Wisconsin's requirement that all parents send their children to school at least until age 16 violate the First Amendment by criminalizing the conduct of parents who refused to send their children to school for religious reasons?

Conclusion:
In a unanimous decision, the Court held that individual's interests in the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment outweighed the state's interests in compelling school attendance beyond the eighth grade. In the majority opinion by Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, the Court found that the values and programs of secondary school were "in sharp conflict with the fundamental mode of life mandated by the Amish religion," and that an additional one or two years of high school would not produce the benefits of public education cited by Wisconsin to justify the law. Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent but joined with the majority regarding Yoder.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1971/1971_70_110)


Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
Facts of the Case:
In April 1952, during the Korean War, President Truman issued an executive order directing Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer to seize and operate most of the nation's steel mills. This was done in order to avert the expected effects of a strike by the United Steelworkers of America.

Question:
Did the president have the constitutional authority to seize and operate the steel mills?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that the president did not have the authority to issue such an order. The Court found that there was no congressional statute that authorized the president to take possession of private property. The Court also held that the president's military power as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces did not extend to labor disputes. The Court argued that "the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1951/1951_744)


Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
Facts of the Case:
In April 1952, during the Korean War, President Truman issued an executive order directing Secretary of Commerce Charles Sawyer to seize and operate most of the nation's steel mills. This was done in order to avert the expected effects of a strike by the United Steelworkers of America.

Question:
Did the president have the constitutional authority to seize and operate the steel mills?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-to-3 decision, the Court held that the president did not have the authority to issue such an order. The Court found that there was no congressional statute that authorized the president to take possession of private property. The Court also held that the president's military power as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces did not extend to labor disputes. The Court argued that "the President's power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1951/1951_744)

Unit 1      Court Cases
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