We the People: The Citizen & the Constitution, Level 3
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Unit 6 Court Cases

Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union (2002)
Facts of the Case:
Congress passed the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) to prevent minors from accessing pornography online. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and online publishers sued in federal court to prevent enforcement of the act, arguing that it violated the free speech clause of the First Amendment. The district court agreed. On appeal, a Third Circuit court of appeals panel affirmed, holding that because the act used "community standards" to decide which material was harmful to minors, it would prohibit material that was felt offensive in the most "puritanical" communities from being displayed in more "tolerant" ones. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the "community standards" provision alone did not make the act unconstitutional and sent the case back to the Third Circuit for further evaluation. The Third Circuit again prohibited implementation of the act, holding that it was likely to fail the "strict scrutiny" test because it was not narrowly tailored--that is, it prevented online publishers from publishing some material that adults had a right to access-and because it did not use the least restrictive means possible to protect children (the court found that blocking software installed on home computers by parents would do as good a job without preventing free speech). For similar reasons, the panel found that the act was unconstitutionally "overbroad"--that is, it applied to too much protected material.

Question:
Is the Child Online Protection Act's requirement that online publishers prevent children from accessing "material that is harmful to minors" likely to violate the First Amendment by restricting too much protected speech and using a method that is not the least restrictive one available?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-4 vote, with Justices Kennedy, Stevens, Souter, Thomas and Ginsburg on one side and Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justices Scalia, Breyer and O'Connor on the other, the Court found that Congress had not yet met its burden to show that the COPA requirements were more effective than other methods of preventing minors. Justice Anthony Kennedy, in the majority opinion, wrote that the district court's injunction "was not an abuse of discretion, because on this record there are a number of plausible, less restrictive alternatives to the statute." The majority also emphasized that barring the statute's enforcement during the trial would be less harmful than allowing it, because allowing it would be likely to prevent online publishers from publishing certain material.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Ashcroft v. American Civil Liberties Union, 542 U.S. 656 (2004) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2003/2003_03_218)


Board of Education v. Allen (1968)
Facts of the Case:
A 1965 amendment to New York's education law required public school boards to lend textbooks to elementary and secondary school students enrolled in private and parochial schools. The board of education for New York Central School District No. 1, contending that the law violated the establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment, filed suit against James Allen, Commissioner of Education, requesting a declaratory injunction to prevent enforcement of the statute. The trial court agreed with the board and found the statute unconstitutional. The appellate division reversed the ruling, finding that the boards lacked standing. On appeal, the court of appeals ruled the boards did have standing, but also found that, because the law's purpose was to benefit all students regardless of the type of school they attended, the law did not violate the First Amendment.

Question:
Do the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses forbid New York from requiring that public school boards loan textbooks to parochial school students without cost?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-3 opinion authored by Justice Byron R. White, the Court applied the test constructed in Abington School District v. Schempp and found that, because the stated legislative purpose and necessary effects of the statute did not advance any one religion or religion in general, the law did not violate the First Amendment. Because the books were given to the students, rather than the parochial schools themselves, the Court reasoned, "the financial benefit is to parents and children, not schools."

Citation
Board of Education v. Allen, 392 U.S. 236 (1968), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1967/1967_660


Brown v. Board of Education I (1954)
Facts of the Case:
Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. The white and black schools approached equality in terms of buildings, curricula, qualifications, and teacher salaries. This case was decided together with Briggs v. Elliott and Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County.

Question:
Does the segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprive the minority children of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. Despite the equalization of the schools by "objective" factors, intangible issues foster and maintain inequality. Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on minority children because it is interpreted as a sign of inferiority. The long-held doctrine that separate facilities were permissible provided they were equal was rejected. Separate but equal is inherently unequal in the context of public education. The unanimous opinion sounded the death-knell for all forms of state-maintained racial separation.

Citation
Brown v. Board of Education (I), 347 U.S. 483 (1954), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1952/1952_1


Brown v. Board of Education II (1955)
Facts of the Case:
After its decision in Brown I which declared racial discrimination in public education unconstitutional, the Court convened to issue the directives which would help to implement its newly announced Constitutional principle. Given the embedded nature of racial discrimination in public schools and the diverse circumstances under which it had been practiced, the Court requested further argument on the issue of relief.

Question:
What means should be used to implement the principles announced in Brown I?

Conclusion:
The Court held that the problems identified in Brown I required varied local solutions. Chief Justice Warren conferred much responsibility on local school authorities and the courts which originally heard school segregation cases. They were to implement the principles which the Supreme Court embraced in its first Brown decision. Warren urged localities to act on the new principles promptly and to move toward full compliance with them "with all deliberate speed."

Citation
Brown v. Board of Education (II), 349 U.S. 294 (1955), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1954/1954_1


Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Facts of the Case:
In the wake of the Watergate affair, Congress attempted to ferret out corruption in political campaigns by restricting financial contributions to candidates. Among other things, the law set limits on the amount of money an individual could contribute to a single campaign and it required reporting of contributions above a certain threshold amount. The Federal Election Commission was created to enforce the statute.

Question:
Did the limits placed on electoral expenditures by the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971, and related provisions of the Internal Revenue Code of 1954, violate the First Amendment's freedom of speech and association clauses?

Conclusion:
In this complicated case, the Court arrived at two important conclusions. First, it held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment since the limitations of the FECA enhance the "integrity of our system of representative democracy" by guarding against unscrupulous practices. Second, the Court found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment. Since these practices do not necessarily enhance the potential for corruption that individual contributions to candidates do, the Court found that restricting them did not serve a government interest great enough to warrant a curtailment on free speech and association.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1975/1975_75_436)


Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837)
Facts of the Case:
In 1785, the Massachusetts legislature incorporated the Charles River Bridge Company to construct a bridge and collect tolls. In 1828, the legislature established the Warren Bridge Company to build a toll-free bridge nearby. Unsurprisingly, the new bridge deprived the old one of traffic and tolls. The Charles River Bridge Company filed suit, claiming the legislature had defaulted on its initial contract.

Question:
Did the legislature enter into an economic contract with the Charles River Bridge Company that was impaired by the second charter in violation of Article I, Section 10 of the Constitution?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-to-2 decision, the Court held that the state had not entered a contract that prohibited the construction of another bridge on the river at a later date. The Court held that the legislature neither gave exclusive control over the waters of the river nor invaded corporate privilege by interfering with the company's profit-making ability. In balancing the rights of private property against the need for economic development, the Court found that the community interest in creating new channels of travel and trade had priority.

Citation
Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge, 36 U.S. 420 (1837), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1836/1836_0


Coleman v. Miller (1939)
Facts of the Case:
In June 1924, the Child Labor Amendment passed both houses of Congress. Under Article V of the Constitution, three-fourths of state legislatures must ratify an amendment passed by Congress before it becomes part of the Constitution. Initially, the Kansas state legislature rejected the amendment but, in January 1937, it was reintroduced before the state senate. Of forty state senators, twenty voted for the amendment and twenty against it. Under Kansas law this left the deciding vote to the lieutenant governor in his capacity as presiding officer of the senate, who voted in favor of passage. After subsequent passage by the Kansas state house, Rolla W. Coleman, a state senator and twenty-three other members of the Kansas legislature filed suit against Clarence W. Miller, the secretary of the state senate, challenging the constitutionality of Kansas's ratification process. Further, they claimed that by 1937, thirteen years after Congress initially proposed it, the amendment had "lost vitality" and could no longer be considered.

Question:
Did the participation of the lieutenant governor, the prior rejection by the Kansas state legislature, or the length of time between the proposal and ratification of the Child Labor Amendment conflict with the ratification process laid out by Article V of the U.S. Constitution?

Conclusion:
The Court's 7-2 decision addressed primarily the prior rejection and the length of time between proposal and ratification, and found this question nonjusticiable, meaning it was not the function of the Court to decide the matter. The majority opinion, authored by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, described the question as inherently political, analogous to its 1849 decision in Luther v. Borden, and noted that no legal criteria exists for its determination. Thus, the Court reasoned, Congress alone has authority to decide. The Court also chose not to address the participation of the lieutenant governor, describing itself as "equally divided" on the matter.

Citation
Coleman v. Miller, 307 U.S. 433 (1939), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1938/1938_7


Crawford v. Marion County Election Board (2008)
Facts of the Case:
In 2005, the Indiana legislature passed a law requiring all voters who cast a ballot in person to present a photo I.D. issued by the United States or the state of Indiana. Plaintiffs including the local Democratic Party and interest groups representing minority and elderly citizens argued that the law constituted an undue burden on the right to vote. At trial, the plaintiffs did not produce any witnesses who claimed they would be unable to meet the law's requirements. The district court and the court of appeals both upheld the law. However, the three-judge appellate panel was deeply divided. Dissenting judge Terrence Evans claimed that the law was a thinly-veiled attempt to dampen turnout by those likely to vote for Democratic candidates.

Question:
Does a law that requires voters to present either a state or federal photo identification unduly burden citizens? right to vote?

Conclusion:
No. By 6-3 vote, the Court upheld the law, concluding that the photo I.D. requirement was closely related to Indiana's legitimate state interests in preventing voter fraud. The slight burden the law imposed on voters' rights did not outweigh these interests, which the Court characterized as "neutral and nondiscriminatory." Although there was no majority opinion, the Court's decision included concurring opinions written by Justices John Paul Stevens and Antonin Scalia. Justices David Souter and Stephen Breyer each wrote dissenting opinions. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined Justice Souter's dissent.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Crawford v. Marion County Election Board, 553 U.S. ___ (2008) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2007/2007_07_21)


Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council (2000)
Facts of the Case:
In 1996, the Massachusetts Burma Law, which restricted state entities from buying goods or services from companies doing business with Burma, was passed. Afterwards, Congress also imposed mandatory and conditional sanctions on Burma. Businesses with ties to Burma landed on Massachusetts' "restricted trade" list. The list came to include 34 members of the National Foreign Trade Council (Council), a non-profit advocate for American companies that do business abroad. The Council filed suit against Stephen Crosby, the Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance, and other state officials in federal court, claiming that the state act unconstitutionally infringes on the federal foreign affairs power, violates the Foreign Commerce Clause, and is preempted by the Federal Burma Law. The district court permanently barred enforcement of the state act, and the appellate court affirmed. The court also found that the Massachusetts Burma Law violated the Supremacy Clause because the state was acting in an area of unique federal concern, foreign policy, through a balanced, tailored approach.

Question:
Is the Massachusetts Burma Law, which restricts the authority of its agencies to purchase goods or services from companies doing business with Burma, unconstitutional under the Supremacy Clause?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a opinion delivered by Justice David H. Souter, the Court held that "the state Act is preempted, and its application unconstitutional, under the Supremacy Clause." Justice Souter wrote for the Court that Massachusetts's law created an obstacle to the President's discretion to control economic sanctions against Burma, interfered with Congress's intention to limit economic pressure against the Burmese Government, and was at odds with the President's authority to speak for the United States among the world's nations to develop a comprehensive, multilateral Burma strategy. Therefore, the Massachusetts Burma Law "is invalid under the Supremacy Clause...owing to its threat of frustrating federal statutory objectives."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Crosby v. National Foreign Trade Council, 530 U.S. 363 (2000) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1999/1999_99_474)


Cruzan v. Missouri Department of Health (1990)
Facts of the Case:
In 1983, Nancy Beth Cruzan was involved in an automobile accident which left her in a "persistent vegetative state." She was sustained for several weeks by artificial feedings through an implanted gastronomy tube. When Cruzan's parents attempted to terminate the life-support system, state hospital officials refused to do so without court approval. The Missouri supreme court ruled in favor of the state's policy over Cruzan's right to refuse treatment.

Question:
Did the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment permit Cruzan's parents to refuse life-sustaining treatment on their vegitated daughter's behalf?

Conclusion:
No. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that while individuals enjoyed the right to refuse medical treatment under the Due Process Clause, incompetent persons were not able to exercise such rights. Absent "clear and convincing" evidence that Cruzan desired treatment to be withdrawn, the Court found the State of Missouri's actions designed to preserve human life to be constitutional. Because there was no guarantee family members would always act in the best interests of incompetent patients, and because erroneous decisions to withdraw treatment were irreversible, the Court upheld the state's heightened evidentiary requirements.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health, 497 U.S. 261 (1990) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1989/1989_88_1503)


Gonzales v. Oregon (2006)
Facts of the Case:
In 1994 Oregon enacted the Death with Dignity Act, the first state law authorizing physicians to prescribe lethal doses of controlled substances to terminally ill patients. Attorney General John Ashcroft declared in 2001 that physician-assisted suicide violated the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 (CSA). Ashcroft threatened to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who took part in the practice. Oregon sued Ashcroft in federal district court. That court and, later the Ninth Circuit, held Ashcroft''s directive illegal. The courts held that the CSA did not authorize the attorney general to regulate physician-assisted suicide, which was the sort of medical matter historically entrusted to the states.

Question:
Did the Controlled Substances Act authorize the attorney general to ban the use of controlled substances for physician-assisted suicide in Oregon?

Conclusion:
No. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court held that Congress intended the CSA to prevent doctors only from engaging in illicit drug dealing, not to define general standards of state medical practice. Moreover, the CSA did not authorize Attorney General John Ashcroft to declare a medical practice authorized under state law to be illegitimate.

Citation
Gonzales v. Oregon, 546 U.S. ___ (2006), http://www.oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2005/2005_04_623


Guinn v. United States (1915)
Facts of the Case:
The Oklahoma Constitution, while appearing to treat all voters equally, allowed an exemption to the literacy requirement for those voters whose grandfathers had either been eligible to vote prior to January 1, 1866 or were then a resident of "some foreign nation," or were soldiers. It was an exemption that favored white voters while it disfranchised black voters, most of whose grandfathers had been slaves and therefore unable to vote before 1866.

Question:
Are these kinds of exemptions to the literacy requirements a violation of the Fifteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. Justice Edward White went on to strike down the grandfather clause. He saw the Oklahoma law for what it was--a bald-faced attempt to disenfranchise blacks. Justice White wrote that the act "inherently brings" discrimination based on race "into existence since it is based purely on a period of time before the enactment of the Fifteenth Amendment and makes that period the controlling and dominant test of the right of suffrage.

Citation
238 U.S. 347 (1915)


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)


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)


Kent v. Dulles (1958)
Facts of the Case:
Rockwell Kent applied for and was refused a passport to visit England. In addition to informing him that his application refusal rested on his Communist Party affiliations, the Passport Office director told Kent that in order for a passport to be issued a hearing would be necessary. The director instructed Kent to submit an affidavit as to whether he was a current or past Communist. Upon the advice of his lawyer, Kent refused to sign the affidavit but did participate in a hearing at which he was once more asked to sign an affidavit concerning his Communist affiliations. When he refused the affidavit, the Passport Department advised Kent that no further action would be taken on his passport request until he satisfied the affidavit requirement. On appeal from consecutive adverse rulings in both district and appellate court, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Kent's case.

Question:
Could the executive branch's Passport Department defer or refuse the issuance of passports to individuals suspected of being Communists or of traveling abroad to further Communist causes?

Conclusion:
No. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that the right to travel is an inherent element of "liberty" that cannot be denied to American citizens. Although the Executive may regulate the travel practices of citizens, by requiring them to obtain valid passports, it may not condition the fulfillment of such requirements with the imposition of rules that abridge basic constitutional notions of liberty, assembly, association, and personal autonomy.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Kent v. Dulles, 357 U.S. 116 (1958) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1957/1957_481)


Kyllo v. United States (2001)
Facts of the Case:
A Department of the Interior agent, suspicious that Danny Kyllo was growing marijuana, used a thermal imaging device to scan his home. The imaging was to be used to determine if the amount of heat emanating from the home was consistent with the high-intensity lamps typically used for indoor marijuana growth. Subsequently, the imaging revealed that relatively hot areas existed, compared to the rest of the home. Based on informants, utility bills, and the thermal imaging, a federal magistrate judge issued a warrant to search Kyllo's home. The search unveiled growing marijuana. After Kyllo was indicted on a federal drug charge, he unsuccessfully moved to suppress the evidence seized from his home and then entered a conditional guilty plea. Ultimately affirming, the court of appeals held that Kyllo had shown no subjective expectation of privacy because he had made no attempt to conceal the heat escaping from his home, and even if he had, there was no objectively reasonable expectation of privacy because the imager "did not expose any intimate details of Kyllo's life," only "amorphous 'hot spots' on the roof and exterior wall."

Question:
Does the use of a thermal imaging device to detect relative amounts of heat emanating from a private home constitute an unconstitutional search in violation of the Fourth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Antonin Scalia, the Court held that "[w]here, as here, the Government uses a device that is not in general public use, to explore details of the home that would previously have been unknowable without physical intrusion, the surveillance is a 'search' and is presumptively unreasonable without a warrant." In dissent, Justice John Paul Stevens argued that the "observations were made with a fairly primitive thermal imager that gathered data exposed on the outside of [Kyllo's] home but did not invade any constitutionally protected interest in privacy," and were, thus, "information in the public domain."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S. 27 (2001) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2000/2000_99_8508)


Martin v. Wilks (1989)
Facts of the Case:
As a result of a lawsuit in 1974, the Jefferson County Personnel Board in Birmingham, Alabama, entered into consent decrees that included hiring blacks as firefighters and for promoting them. The decrees were approved by a federal district court. Years later, Robert K. Wilks, a white firefighter, challenged the decrees and alleged that whites were being denied promotions in favor of less qualified blacks. Wilks argued that such practices violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The personnel board agreed that it was making race-conscious decisions but argued it was doing so pursuant to the original decrees. The Court combined arguments in two companion cases: Personnel Board v. Wilks and Arrington v. Wilks.

Question:
Did Wilks and other white firefighters have a constitutional right to challenge the previously established decrees?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that because "a person cannot be deprived of his legal rights in a proceeding to which he is not a party," the white firefighters were not precluded from challenging employment decisions taken pursuant to the consent decrees. The Court argued that "[t]he parties to a lawsuit presumably know better than anyone else the nature and scope of relief sought in the action" and that they were better suited to intervene when their rights were immediately threatened. Conversely, the Court noted that "[n]o one can seriously contend that an employer might successfully defend against a Title VII claim by one group of employees on the ground that its actions were required by an earlier decree entered in a suit brought against it by another, if the later group did not have adequate notice or knowledge of the earlier suit."

Citation
Martin v. Wilks, 490 U.S. 755 (1989), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_1614


McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)
Facts of the Case:
In early 2002, a many years-long effort by Senators John McCain and Russell Feingold to reform the way that money is raised for--and spent during--political campaigns culminated in the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 (the so-called McCain-Feingold bill). Its key provisions were a) a ban on unrestricted ("soft money") donations made directly to political parties (often by corporations, unions, or well-heeled individuals) and on the solicitation of those donations by elected officials; b) limits on the advertising that unions, corporations, and non-profit organizations can engage in up to 60 days prior to an election; and c) restrictions on political parties' use of their funds for advertising on behalf of candidates (in the form of "issue ads" or "coordinated expenditures"). The campaign finance reform bill contained an unusual provision providing for an early federal trial and a direct appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States, bypassing the typical federal judicial process. In May of that year, a special three-judge panel struck down portions of the act's ban on soft-money donations but upheld some of the its restrictions on the kind of advertising that parties can engage in. The ruling was stayed until the Supreme Court could hear and decide the resulting appeals.

Question:
1. Does the "soft money" ban of the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 exceed Congress's authority to regulate elections under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution and/or violate the First Amendment's protection of the freedom to speak? 2. Do regulations of the source, content, or timing of political advertising in the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 violate the First Amendment's free speech clause?

Conclusion:
With a few exceptions, the Court answered "no" to both questions in a 5-to-4 decision written by Justices Sandra Day O'Connor and John Paul Stevens. Because the regulations dealt mostly with soft-money contributions that were used to register voters and increase attendance at the polls, not with campaign expenditures (which are more explicitly a statement of political values and therefore deserve more protection), the Court held that the restriction on free speech was minimal. It then found that the restriction was justified by the government's legitimate interest in preventing "both the actual corruption threatened by large financial contributions and...the appearance of corruption" that might result from those contributions. In response to challenges that the law was too broad and unnecessarily regulated conduct that had not been shown to cause corruption (such as advertisements paid for by corporations or unions), the Court found that such regulation was necessary to prevent the groups from circumventing the law. Justices O'Connor and Stevens wrote that "money, like water, will always find an outlet" and that the government was therefore justified in taking steps to prevent schemes developed to get around the contribution limits. The Court also rejected the argument that Congress had exceeded its authority to regulate elections under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. The Court found that the law only affected state elections in which federal candidates were involved and also that it did not prevent states from creating separate election laws for state and local elections.

Citation
The Oyez Project, McConnell v. Federal Election Commission, 540 U.S. 93 (2003) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2003/2003_02_1674)


Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson (1986)
Facts of the Case:
After being dismissed from her job at a Meritor Savings Bank, Mechelle Vinson sued Sidney Taylor, bank's vice president. Vinson charged that she had constantly been subjected to sexual harassment by Taylor during her four years at the bank. She argued such harassment created a "hostile working environment" and was covered by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Vinson sought injunctive relief along with compensatory and punitive damages against Taylor and the bank.

Question:
Did the Civil Rights Act prohibit the creation of a "hostile environment," or was it limited to tangible economic discrimination in the workplace?

Conclusion:
Yes: The Court held that the language of Title VII was "not limited to 'economic' or 'tangible' discrimination," finding that Congress intended "'to strike at the entire spectrum of disparate treatment of men and women' in employment..." The Court noted that guidelines issued by the EEOC specified that sexual harassment leading to noneconomic injury was a form of sex discrimination prohibited by Title VII. The Court recognized that plaintiffs could establish violations of the act "by proving that discrimination based on sex has created a hostile or abusive work environment." The Court declined to rule on the degree to which businesses could be liable for the conduct of specific employees.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson , 477 U.S. 57 (1986) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1985/1985_84_1979)


Minor v. Happersett (1874)
Facts of the Case:
On October 15, 1872, Virginia Minor applied to register to vote in Missouri. The registrar, Reese Happersett, turned down the application, because the Missouri state constitution read: "Every male citizen of the United States shall be entitled to vote." Mrs. Minor sued in Missouri state court, claiming her rights were violated on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Question:
Does the Fourteenth Amendment protect the voting rights of women?

Conclusion:
No. In a unanimous opinion the court held that while women were citizens of the United States, and were, even prior to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, voting rights were not a "necessary privilege and immunity" to which all citizens are entitled.

Citation
88 U.S. 162 (Wall.)


Minor v. Happersett (1874)
Facts of the Case:
On October 15, 1872, Virginia Minor applied to register to vote in Missouri. The registrar, Reese Happersett, turned down the application, because the Missouri state constitution read: "Every male citizen of the United States shall be entitled to vote." Mrs. Minor sued in Missouri state court, claiming her rights were violated on the basis of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Question:
Does the Fourteenth Amendment protect the voting rights of women?

Conclusion:
No. In a unanimous opinion the court held that while women were citizens of the United States, and were, even prior to the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, voting rights were not a "necessary privilege and immunity" to which all citizens are entitled.

Citation
88 U.S. 162 (Wall.)


Missouri v. Holland (1920)
Facts of the Case:
In December 1916, the United States and Great Britain entered into a treaty to protect a number of migratory birds in the U.S. and Canada. Congress passed the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in 1918 in order to facilitate enforcement of the treaty. When Ray P. Holland, the U.S. Game Warden, threatened to arrest citizens of Missouri for violating the act, the state of Missouri challenged the treaty.

Question:
Did the treaty infringe upon rights reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that the national interest in protecting the wildlife could be protected only by national action. The Court noted that the birds the government sought to protect had no permanent habitats within individual states and argued that "but for the treaty and the statute there soon might be no birds for any powers to deal with." The Court thus upheld the exercise of the treaty power and thus found no violation of the Tenth Amendment.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Missouri v. Holland, 252 U.S. 416 (1920) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1919/1919_609)


Oregon v. Mitchell (1970)
Facts of the Case:
The Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970 made changes to voter eligibility. Oregon, Texas, and Idaho brought suit in the Supreme Court against the United States and attorney general John Mitchell to challenge the Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1970. They claimed that only the states, and not Congress, have the authority to establish qualification rules for voters in state and local elections.

Question:
Can the Federal Government make laws respecting local and state elections?

Conclusion:
For the most part, no. The Supreme Court held, with considerable disagreement, that the federal 18-year-old voting age requirement is valid for national elections, but not for state or local elections. Justice Hugo Black announced the Court's judgment in an opinion that expressed his own views. Four justices agreed with Justice Black that the Constitution gives Congress broad powers to regulate federal elections. These four justices, but not Justice Black, thought Congress also could do so in State elections. They argued that the states have no legitimate interest in excluding 18 to 21-year-old voters, and that the Equal Protection Clause supports the right of people in this age group to vote. Four other justices agreed with Justice Black that Congress could not regulate the minimum age in State and local elections. These justices thought Congress also lacked the power to set the voting age for federal elections. They argued that under the Constitution, only the states have the right to set voter qualifications. All justices agreed that Congress can prohibit the use of literacy tests or other requirements that discriminate against voters based on their race in all elections. In upholding the ban on literacy tests, the Court accepted Congress's findings that the tests tended to disqualify a disproportionate number of minority voters.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Oregon v. Mitchell, 400 U.S. 112 (1970) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_43_orig)


Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District 1 (2008)
Facts of the Case:
The Seattle School District allowed students to apply to any high school in the district. Since certain schools often became oversubscribed when too many students chose them as their first choice, the District used a system of tiebreakers to decide which students would be admitted to the popular schools. The second most important tiebreaker was a racial factor intended to maintain racial diversity. If the racial demographics of any school's student body deviated by more than a predetermined percentage from those of Seattle's total student population (approximately 40% white and 60% non-white), the racial tiebreaker went into effect. At a particular school either whites or non-whites could be favored for admission depending on which race would bring the racial balance closer to the goal. A non-profit group, Parents Involved in Community Schools (Parents), sued the district, arguing that the racial tiebreaker violated the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as well as the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and Washington state law. A federal district court dismissed the suit, upholding the tiebreaker. On appeal, a three-judge panel on the ninth circuit court of appeals reversed the decision. Under the Supreme Court's precedents on racial classification in higher education, Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger, race-based classifications must be directed toward a "compelling government interest" and must be "narrowly tailored" to that interest. Applying these precedents to K-12 education, the circuit court found that the tiebreaker scheme was not narrowly tailored. The district then petitioned for an "en banc" ruling by a larger panel of 11 ninth circuit judges. The panel came to the opposite conclusion and upheld the tiebreaker. The majority ruled that the district had a compelling interest in maintaining racial diversity. Applying a test from Grutter, the circuit court also ruled that the tiebreaker plan was narrowly tailored, because 1) the district did not employ quotas, 2) the district had considered race-neutral alternatives, 3) the plan caused no undue harm to races, and 4) the plan had an ending point.

Question:
1) Do the decisions in Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger apply to public high school students? 2) Is racial diversity a compelling interest that can justify the use of race in selecting students for admission to public high schools? 3) Does a school district that normally permits a student to attend the high school of her choice violate the Equal Protection Clause by denying the student admission to her chosen school because of her race in an effort to achieve a desired r

Conclusion:
No. No. Yes. By a 5-4 vote, the Court applied a "strict scrutiny" framework and found the district's racial tiebreaker plan unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the plurality opinion that "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race." The Court acknowledged that it had previously held that racial diversity can be a compelling government interest in university admissions, but it ruled that "the present cases are not governed by Grutter." Unlike the cases pertaining to higher education, the district's plan involved no individualized consideration of students, and it employed a very limited notion of diversity ("white" and "non-white"). The district's goal of preventing racial imbalance did not meet the Court's standards for a constitutionally legitimate use of race: "Racial balancing is not transformed from 'patently unconstitutional' to a compelling state interest simply by relabeling it 'racial diversity.'" The plans also lacked the narrow tailoring that is necessary for race-conscious programs. The Court held that the district's tiebreaker plan was actually targeted toward demographic goals and not toward any demonstrable educational benefit from racial diversity. The district also failed to show that its objectives could not have been met with non-race-conscious means. In a separate opinion concurring in the judgment, Justice Kennedy agreed that the district's use of race was unconstitutional but stressed that public schools may sometimes consider race to ensure equal educational opportunity.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 551 U.S. 701 (2007) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2006/2006_05_908)


Patterson v. McLean Credit Union (1989)
Facts of the Case:
Brenda Patterson, a black woman, worked as a teller for McLean Credit Union for ten years until she was laid off. She then alleged that McLean had harassed her, failed to promote her, and ultimately fired her because of her race. She claimed in federal district court that this violated 42 U.S.C. 1981, which the Supreme Court's ruling in Runyon v. McCrary interpreted to prohibit racial discrimination in the "making and enforcing of contracts." The court declared that Section 1981 did not cover racial harassment suits, and instructed the jury to only consider her lack of promotions and firing. Patterson lost. On appeal, the Fourth Circuit court of appeals ruled that Section 1981 only applied to matters relating to contracts and therefore did not include harassment suits. The Supreme Court held arguments and surmised that its decision would depend on whether it maintained the interpretation of Section 1981 it reached in Runyon v. McCrary. The Court scheduled re-argument to focus on whether it should offer a broader interpretation of Section 1981 than that reached in Runyon.

Question:
Can a victim of workplace racial harassment file suit under 42 U.S.C. 1981? In order for an employee bypassed for promotion to charge racial discrimination under 42 U.S.C. 1981, must the bypassed employee show that the employees promoted instead had lesser qualifications?

Conclusion:
No. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the opinion for a 5-4 court. The Court affirmed its interpretation of Runyon v. McCrary allowing only contract-related suits under Section 1981. The Runyon interpretation of Section 1981 neither conflicts with other laws against racial harassment nor has proved unworkable as precedent. Regarding the racial harassment suit, the Court deemed that "the conduct alleged is postformation conduct by the employer relating to the terms and conditions of continuing employment, which is actionable only under the more expansive reach of Title VII." Since workplace harassment does not affect contracts, Section 1981 does not apply. Regarding promotions, the Court rejected the trial court's demand for proof that less qualified employees were promoted. Instead, Patterson only needed to prove that "she applied for and was qualified for an available position, that she was rejected, and that the employer then either continued to seek applicants for the position...or filled the position with a white employee." When following this procedure, Section 1981 did apply to discriminatory promotion suits.

Citation
Patterson v. McLean Credit Union, 491 U.S. 164 (1989), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1987/1987_87_107


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)


Plyler v. Doe (1982)
Facts of the Case:
A revision to the Texas education laws in 1975 allowed the state to withhold from local school districts state funds for educating children of illegal aliens. This case was decided together with Texas v. Certain Named and Unnamed Alien Child.

Question:
Did the law violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court reasoned that illegal aliens and their children, though not citizens of the United States or Texas, are people "in any ordinary sense of the term" and, therefore, are afforded Fourteenth Amendment protections. Since the state law severely disadvantaged the children of illegal aliens, by denying them the right to an education, and because Texas could not prove that the regulation was needed to serve a "compelling state interest," the Court struck down the law.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Plyler v. Doe, 457 U.S. 202 (1982) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1981/1981_80_1538)


Reno v. ACLU (1997)
Facts of the Case:
Several litigants challenged the constitutionality of two provisions in the 1996 Communications Decency Act. Intended to protect minors from unsuitable internet material, the Act criminalized the intentional transmission of "obscene or indecent" messages as well as the transmission of information which depicts or describes "sexual or excretory activities or organs" in a manner deemed "offensive" by community standards. After being prohibited by a district court from enforcing the above provisions, except for the one concerning obscenity and its inherent protection against child pornography, Attorney General Janet Reno appealed directly to the Supreme Court as provided for by the Act's special review provisions.

Question:
Did certain provisions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act violate the First and Fifth Amendments by being overly broad and vague in their definitions of the types of internet communications which they criminalized?

Conclusion:
Yes. The Court held that the act violated the First Amendment because its regulations amounted to a content-based blanket restriction of free speech. The act failed to clearly define "indecent" communications, limit its restrictions to particular times or individuals (by showing that it would not impact on adults), provide supportive statements from an authority on the unique nature of internet communications, or conclusively demonstrate that the transmission of "offensive" material is devoid of any social value. The Court added that since the First Amendment distinguishes between "indecent" and "obscene" sexual expressions, protecting only the former, the act could be preserved if it dropped the words "or indecent" from its text. The Court refused to address any Fifth Amendment issues.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Reno v. ACLU, 521 U.S. 844 (1997) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_511)


Roper v. Simmons (2005)
Facts of the Case:
Christopher Simmons was sentenced to death in 1993, when he was only 17. A series of appeals to state and federal courts lasted until 2002, but each appeal was rejected. Then, in 2002, the Missouri Supreme Court suspended Simmon's execution while the U.S. Supreme Court decided Atkins v. Virginia, a case that dealt with the execution of the mentally ill. After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that executing the mentally ill violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment prohibitions on cruel and unusual punishment because a majority of Americans found it cruel and unusual, the Missouri Supreme Court decided to reconsider Simmons' case. Using the reasoning from the Atkins case, the Missouri court decided, 6-to-3, that the U.S. Supreme Court's 1989 decision in Stanford v. Kentucky, which held that executing minors was not unconstitutional, was no longer valid. The opinion in Stanford v. Kentucky had relied on a finding that a majority of Americans did not consider the execution of minors to be cruel and unusual. The Missouri court, citing numerous laws passed since 1989 that limited the scope of the death penalty, held that national opinion had changed. Finding that a majority of Americans were now opposed to the execution of minors, the court held that such executions were now unconstitutional. On appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, the government argued that allowing a state court to overturn a Supreme Court decision by looking at "evolving standards" would be dangerous, because state courts could just as easily decide that executions prohibited by the Supreme Court (such as the execution of the mentally ill in Atkins v. Virginia) were now permissible due to a change in the beliefs of the American people.

Question:
Does the execution of minors violate the prohibition of "cruel and unusual punishment" found in the Eighth Amendment and applied to the states through the incorporation doctrine of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court ruled that standards of decency have evolved so that executing minors is "cruel and unusual punishment" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment. The majority cited a consensus against the juvenile death penalty among state legislatures, and its own determination that the death penalty is a disproportionate punishment for minors. Finally the Court pointed to "overwhelming" international opinion against the juvenile death penalty. Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia, Sandra Day O'Connor, and Clarence Thomas all dissented.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/2000-2009/2004/2004_03_633)


South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966)
Facts of the Case:
The Voting Rights Act of 1965 prevented states from using a "test or device" (such as literacy tests) to deny citizens the right to vote. Federal examiners, under the attorney general's jurisdiction, were empowered to intervene to investigate election irregularities.

Question:
Did the act violate the states' rights to implement and control elections?

Conclusion:
No: The Court upheld the law. Noting that the enforcement clause of the Fifteenth Amendment gave Congress "full remedial powers" to prevent racial discrimination in voting, the act was a "legitimate response" to the "insidious and pervasive evil" which had denied blacks the right to vote since the Fifteenth Amendment's adoption in 1870.

Citation
South Carolina v. Katzenbach, 383 U.S. 301 (1966), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1960-1969/1965/1965_22_orig


Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971)
Facts of the Case:
After the Supreme Court's decision in 1954 in Brown v. Board of Education, little progress had been made in desegregating public schools. One example was the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, system in which approximately 14,000 black students attended schools that were either totally black or more than 99 percent black. Lower courts had experimented with a number of possible solutions when the case reached the Supreme Court.

Question:
Were federal courts constitutionally authorized to oversee and produce remedies for state-imposed segregation?

Conclusion:
Yes. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that once violations of previous mandates directed at desegregating schools had occurred, the scope of district courts' equitable powers to remedy past wrongs were broad and flexible. The Court ruled that 1) remedial plans were to be judged by their effectiveness, and the use of mathematical ratios or quotas were legitimate "starting points" for solutions; 2) predominantly or exclusively black schools required close scrutiny by courts; 3) non-contiguous attendance zones, as interim corrective measures, were within the courts' remedial powers; and 4) no rigid guidelines could be established concerning busing of students to particular schools.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Bd. of Ed., 402 U.S. 1 (1971) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1970-1979/1970/1970_281)


Trop v. Dulles (1958)
Facts of the Case:
In 1944, United States Army private Albert Trop escaped from a military stockade at Casablanca, Morocco, following his confinement for a disciplinary violation. A day later, Trop willingly surrendered to an army truck headed back to Casablanca. Despite testifying that he "decided to return to the stockade" when he was picked up, a general court martial convicted Trop of desertion and sentenced him to three years at hard labor, loss of all pay and allowances, and a dishonorable discharge. In 1952, Trop applied for a passport. His application was rejected under Section 401(g) of the amended 1940 Nationality Act, on the ground that he lost his citizenship due to his conviction and dishonorable discharge for wartime desertion. After failing to obtain a declaratory judgment that he was a U.S. citizen, from both a district and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Trop appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question:
Did Section 401(g) of the amended 1940 Nationality Act (the "Act") allow for an unconstitutional punishment by authorizing the expatriation of a citizen convicted of wartime desertion?

Conclusion:
Yes. After finding that Section 401(g) of the amended Act was penal in nature, since it punished convicted deserters with denationalization, the Court held that involuntary expatriation was barred by the Eighth Amendment as a cruel and unusual penal remedy. Citizenship, the Court stated, is not a license that expires upon misbehavior. Rather, it can only be voluntarily renounced by express language and, or, conduct. Since Trop did not involve himself in any way with a foreign state, so as to demonstrate disloyalty to the United States, his court martial conviction of desertion did not justify his forced expatriation.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Trop v. Dulles, 356 U.S. 86 (1958) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1950-1959/1956/1956_70)


U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995)
Facts of the Case:
On November 3, 1992, Arkansas voters adopted Amendment 73 to their State Constitution. The "Term Limitation Amendment," in addition to limiting terms of elected officials within the Arkansas state government, also provided that any person who served three or more terms as a member of the United States House of Representatives from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a U.S. Representative from Arkansas. Similarly, the Amendment provided that any person who served two or more terms as a member of the United States Senate from Arkansas would be ineligible for re-election as a U.S. Senator from Arkansas.

Question:
Can states alter those qualifications for the U.S. Congress that are specifically enumerated in the Constitution?

Conclusion:
No. The Constitution prohibits States from adopting Congressional qualifications in addition to those enumerated in the Constitution. A state congressional term limits amendment is unconstitutional if it has the likely effect of handicapping a class of candidates and "has the sole purpose of creating additional qualifications indirectly." Furthermore, "allowing individual States to craft their own congressional qualifications would erode the structure designed by the Framers to form a 'more perfect Union.'"

Citation
The Oyez Project, U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton, 514 U.S. 779 (1995) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1994/1994_93_1456)


United States v. Carolene Products (1938)
Facts of the Case:
A 1923 act of Congress banned the interstate shipment of "filled milk" (milk with skimmed milk and vegetable oil added). A manufacturer, indicted for shipping filled milk, challenged the law.

Question:
Does the law violate the commerce power granted to Congress in Article I, Section 8 and the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. The Court upheld the act. In this otherwise unremarkable case, the Court planted the seeds for a new jurisprudence in a footnote to Stone's opinion for the Court. Here Stone gives a presumption of constitutionality to economic regulation. The Court would no longer substitute its views on economic policy for the views of Congress. Stone went further in footnote four by cautiously asserting that certain types of legislation might not merit deference toward constitutional validity. The most controversial element in the footnote was the suggestion that prejudice directed against discrete and insular minorities may call for "more searching judicial inquiry," establishing the rational basis test and the strict scrutiny standard of review. Strict scrutiny would not be used until Korematsu v. U.S. in 1944.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Carolene Products Co. 304 U.S. 144 (1938) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1901-1939/1937/1937_640)


United States v. Wong Kim Ark (1898)
Facts of the Case:
The Chinese Exclusion Acts denied citizenship to Chinese immigrants. Moreover, by treaty no Chinese subject in the United States could become a naturalized citizen. Wong Kim Ark was born in San Francisco. At age 21, he returned to China to visit his parents who had previously resided in the United States for 20 years. When he returned to the United States, Wong was denied entry on the ground that he was not a citizen.

Question:
Could the government deny naturalization to persons born in the United States in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment?

Conclusion:
No. The government could not deny naturalization to anyone born in the United States. To reach this conclusion, Justice Gray's tedious majority opinion managed to traverse much of western civilization.

Citation
The Oyez Project, United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1896/1896_132)


Vacco v. Quill (1997)
Facts of the Case:
Dr. Timothy E. Quill, along with other physicians and three seriously ill patients who have since died, challenged the constitutionality of the New York state's ban on physician-assisted suicide. New York's ban, while permitting patients to refuse lifesaving treatment on their own, has historically made it a crime for doctors to help patients commit or attempt suicide, even if patients are terminally ill or in great pain. Following a district court ruling favoring the state of New York, the Second Circuit reversed and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

Question:
Did New York's ban on physician-assisted suicide violate the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection clause by allowing competent terminally ill adults to withdraw their own lifesaving treatment, but denying the same right to patients who could not withdraw their own treatment and could only hope that a physician would do so for them?

Conclusion:
No. Employing a rationality test to examine the guarantees of the Equal Protection Clause, the Court held that New York's ban was rationally related to the state's legitimate interest in protecting medical ethics, preventing euthanasia, shielding the disabled and terminally ill from prejudice which might encourage them to end their lives, and, above all, the preservation of human life. Moreover, while acknowledging the difficulty of its task, the Court distinguished between the refusal of lifesaving treatment and assisted suicide, by noting that the latter involves the criminal elements of causation and intent. No matter how noble a physician's motives may be, he may not deliberately cause, hasten, or aid a patient's death.

Citation
Vacco v. Quill, 521 U.S. 793 (1997), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_95_1858


Wards Cove Packing v. Atonio (1989)
Facts of the Case:
Wards Cove Packing Co. employed primarily nonwhite workers for unskilled seasonal jobs canning fish. A group of nonwhite workers filed suit in federal district court alleging that Wards Cove practiced discriminatory hiring in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. As evidence, the group compared the high percentage of nonwhites in unskilled work with the high percentage of whites in skilled work. The district court rejected this claim because it found that Wards received unskilled workers through a hiring agency that enrolled primarily nonwhites. The ninth circuit court reversed the decision. It held that Wards had the burden of proof to show that its hiring practices were not discriminatory after the claimants presented evidence of racial disparity.

Question:
Once employees present evidence of racial disparity among different classes of jobs, does the employer have to justify this disparity as a "business necessity" in order to avoid a "disparate impact" lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?

Conclusion:
No. Justice Byron R. White delivered the opinion for a 5-4 court. The fact that one class of jobs at a firm has a higher percentage of nonwhites than another class does not by itself prove that the firm practices discriminatory hiring. Comparisons of race percentages among different job classes could wrongfully blame the employer, since what appears to show racial discrimination could in reality reflect the racial differences that exist in the labor market at large. Instead, the Court held that "the proper comparison is generally between the racial composition of the at-issue jobs and the racial composition of the qualified population in the relevant labor market." If a substantial difference is found, then the claimants must show that it is the result of a hiring practice of the employer.

Citation
Wards Cove Packing Co. v. Atonio, 490 U.S. 642 (1989), http://www.oyez.org/cases/1980-1989/1988/1988_87_1387


Ware v. Hylton (1796)
Facts of the Case:
This case involved the Treaty of Paris, which established peace in 1783. A Virginian owed a debt to a British subject. A Virginia law provided for the confiscation of such debts on the ground the the debt was owed to an alien enemy. The British subject (actually, his administrator) sued in a federal court to recover on the bond. The administrator argued that the Treaty of Paris ensured the collection of such debts.

Question:
Does the Treaty of Paris override an otherwise valid state law?

Conclusion:
Four of the five justices wrote opinions. It was the practice of that time for the Court to issue opinions one after another, and there was no "opinion for the Court." Collectively, the justices held that federal courts had the power to determine the constitutionality of state laws. They invalidated the Virginia law under the supremacy clause and, in the words of a distinguished scholar of the period, "established for all time [the Supreme Court's] power of judicial review of state laws."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Ware v. Hylton, 3 U.S. 199 (1796) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1796/1796_0)


Washington v. Glucksberg (1997)
Facts of the Case:
Dr. Harold Glucksberg--along with four other physicians, three terminally ill patients who have since died, and a nonprofit organization that counsels individuals contemplating physician assisted-suicide--brought this suit challenging the state of Washington's ban on physician assisted-suicide. The state of Washington has historically criminalized the promotion of suicide attempts by those who "knowingly cause or aid another person to attempt suicide." Glucksberg alleged that Washington's ban was unconstitutional. Following a district court ruling favoring Glucksberg and his fellow petitioners, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the decision and the Supreme Court agreed to hear Washington's case.

Question:
Did Washington's ban on physician assisted-suicide violate the Fourteenth Amendment's due process clause by denying competent terminally ill adults the liberty to choose death over life?

Conclusion:
No. Analyzing the guarantees of the Due Process Clause, the Court focused on two primary aspects: the protection of our nation's objective fundamental, historically rooted, rights and liberties; and the cautious definition of what constitutes a due process liberty interest. The Court held that the right to assisted suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause since its practice has been, and continues to be, offensive to our national traditions and practices. Moreover, employing a rationality test, the Court held that Washington's ban was rationally related to the state's legitimate interest in protecting medical ethics, shielding disabled and terminally ill people from prejudice which might encourage them to end their lives, and, above all, the preservation of human life.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Washington v. Glucksberg, 521 U.S. 702 (1997) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_110)


Wong Wing v. United States (1896)
Facts of the Case:
The Chinese Exclusion Act imposed imprisonment at hard labor and deportation to Chinese persons convicted of unlawful entry to or presence in the United States. Wong Wing was charged under the act. A commissioner of the circuit court (who was not a judge) found that Wong Wing was an unlawful alien and sentenced him to 60 days at hard labor followed by deportation to China. Wong Wing sought a writ of habeas corpus, but it was denied. He appealed to the Supreme Court.

Question:
Does penalty of imprisonment at hard labor and deportation without a jury trial constitute a violation of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments?

Conclusion:
Yes; consequently, the imprisonment provisions of the act are void. Congress may deport without a jury trial, but imprisonment at hard labor is an infamous offense calling for judicial trial to establish the guilt of the accused. "It is not consistent with our theory of government that the legislature should, after having defined an offense as an infamous crime, find the fact of guilt and adjudge the punishment by one of its own agents."

Citation
The Oyez Project, Wong Wing v. United States, 163 U.S. 228 (1896) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1851-1900/1895/1895_204)


Worcester v. Georgia (1832)
Facts of the Case:
In September 1831, Samuel A. Worcester and several others, all non-Native Americans, were indicted in the Gwinnett county supreme court in Georgia for "residing within the limits of the Cherokee nation without a license" and "without having taken the oath to support and defend the constitution and laws of the state of Georgia." They were indicted under an 1830 act of the Georgia legislature titled, "an act to prevent the exercise of assumed and arbitrary power by all persons, under pretext of authority from the Cherokee Indians." Worcester argued that the state could not maintain the prosecution because the statute violated the Constitution, treaties between the United States and the Cherokee nation, and an act of Congress titled, "an act to regulate trade and intercourse with the Indian tribes." Worcester was convicted and sentenced to "hard labour in the penitentiary for four years."

Question:
Does the state of Georgia have the authority to regulate interactions between citizens of its state and members of the Cherokee Nation?

Conclusion:
No. In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice John Marshall, the Court held that the Georgia act under which Worcester was prosecuted violated the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States. Noting that the "treaties and laws of the United States contemplate the Indian territory as completely separated from that of the states; and provide that all intercourse with them shall be carried on exclusively by the government of the union," Chief Justice Marshall argued, "The Cherokee nation, then, is a distinct community occupying its own territory in which the laws of Georgia can have no force. The whole intercourse between the United States and this nation, is, by our constitution and laws, vested in the government of the United States." The Georgia act thus interfered with the federal government's authority and was unconstitutional. Justice Henry Baldwin dissented for procedural reasons and on the merits.

Citation
The Oyez Project, Worcester v. Georgia, 31 U.S. 515 (1832) available at: (http://oyez.org/cases/1792-1850/1832/1832_2)

Unit 6      Court Cases
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