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Supreme Court Cases


Supreme Court Cases Cases in American Courts 10 000 are tried annually in the various American Courts 2% of these are Federal Cases In an average year of the 160 ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Supreme Court Cases

Supreme Court Cases
Cases in American Courts
  • 10 000 are tried annually in the various American
  • 2 of these are Federal Cases
  • In an average year of the 160 heard 90 are
    subject to Oral Argument, 70 or 80 are decided by
    a signed written opinion.

Maybury Vs Madison (1803)
  • Decided upon Judicial Review
  • The power of any federal court to refuse to
    enforce a law, because in the views of the judges
    it conflicts with the Constitution
  • Around 80 Federal Statutes and 700 pieces of
    State Legislation have been struck down as

McCulloch Vs Maryland (1819)
  • Whether the Government had the authority to
    establish a National Bank
  • Not amongst its Enumerated Powers not
    specified in the Constitution
  • The Court decided the Govt. should use its
    Implied Powers as it was necessary and proper

Gitlow vs New York (1925)
  • Ruling established that the States aswell as the
    Federal Government must respect the guarantees of
    free speech and freedom of the Press.
  • This judgement marked the adoption of the
    incorporation doctrine
  • By its express terms, the Bill of Rights applies
    only to the federal government.  However, the 1st
    Amendment and most of the remaining amendments in
    the Bill of Rights apply to state governments
    today because of the judicially created
    Incorporation Doctrine. 

Youngstown Steel and Tube Company vs Sawyer (1952)
  • Using an Executive Order, President Truman had
    ordered the Federal Government to take-over
    strike hit Steel Plants Critical to the Korean
    War effort
  • The Court decided that his powers did not extend
    to such a large scale confiscation of property

Warren Court 1953-1969
  • Noted for Judicial Activism
  • Rights of individuals, equal representation and
    equality before the law
  • Plessey vs Ferguson (1896) OK to segregate as
    long as facilities were equal in quality
  • Brown vs Board of Education (1954) Segregation in
    schools was unconstitutional a breach of the
    14th amendment

The Warren Court cont..
  • The Court rather than Congress
  • led the fight for progressive change in public
    policy on matters such as race and sex equality,
    abortion, political and religious dissent,
    censorship and the rights of the criminally
    accused Robert McKeever

Burger Court
  • Roe vs Wade (1973) Ruled in favour of Women
    being allowed to be in control of their own
  • A blow to anti-abortionists
  • Also ruled against President Nixon in the
    Watergate case. The President tried to claim
    Executive privilege, denied by Burger.

Furman vs Georgia (1972)
  • All existing Death Penalty laws were struck down.
  • Those who faced the executioner were
    disproportionately African-American, poor, had
    been poorly defended or simply unlucky
  • Many states then re-wrote their laws, four years
    later the court accepted the constitutionality of
    these laws, thereby re-instating the death
    penalty in many States Gregg vs Georgia (1976)

Burger Court Not Consistent
  • The Supreme Court thinks in judicial not politcal
  • The court is influenced by stare decisis, past
    precedents and also Interest groups in amicus
    curiae briefs
  • Judges committed to interpretvist theories were
  • Public opinion shifted to the right in 1970s and
    1980s The court just reflected this

The Rehnquist Court 1986-2005
  • Reagans appointment, deeply Conservative
  • Ruled in the 2000 Presidential Election
  • Also the court has been involved in
  • Broadening the power of police
  • Prohibiitng abortion counselling
  • Limiting use of habeus corpus by Prisoners

Agostini vs Felton (1997)
  • Reversed an earlier court ruling to all federally
    funded schoolteachers to provide remedial
    assistance to students attending church run
  • A highly Conservative decision

Clinton vs Jones (1997)
  • Presidents were not protected from civil action
    brought against them
  • Paula Jones sought compensation from President
    Clinton, whom she alleged had sexually harassed
    her whilst Governor of Arkansas.

Planned parenthood of South Eastern Pennsylvannia
vs Casey (1992)
  • Allowed states to impose 24-hour waiting periods
    for those seeking an abortion
  • Essentially disappointed Conservatives as it
    upheld the Roe judgement

2000 Presidential Election
  • George W Bush vs Albert Gore jnr
  • An appeal by Bush to the ruling in Florida
    Supreme Court ordering a manual recount of
  • For Bush Votes are clearly marked, so to
    include other votes is a departure (Justices
    Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas)
  • For Gore Issuing guidance on how this recount
    should proceed (Justices Breyer and Ginsburg)
  • Compromise Sent back to Florida Supreme Court
    for further proceedings. The FSC had to have to
    votes counted and allow time for Judicial Review,
    as this was impossible by Mid-night 12th Dec (2
    hours after ruling) they effectively handed
    victory to Bush

2000 Presidential Election cont..
  • 7 justices had found flaws in the way the manual
    recounts had been counted
  • Even Justice Ginsburg (Democrat) found the system
  • Unease as decisions about conduct of election
    taken away from election officials and given to
  • However Republican dominated court risked eroding
    public confidence in its collective wisdom and

OCTOBER 3rd 2005
  • Expected time when George W Bush will name the
    replacement for Rehnquist as Chief Justice
  • John Roberts Jnr replaced the retired Sandra Day

  • As Judges invariably survive the President who
    put them there, there is continuity
  • But, should judges just interpret the
    constitution or should they broaden their
    horizons to redress grievances?
  • Judicial restrain is the norm, but as shown in
    the Warren Court Judicial Activism can be

  • Strict Constructionism The words of the
    Constitution should follow their literal meaning,
    what were the authors intentions? Thereby acting
    in an ideologically neutral way
  • Loose Constructionism The courts should apply
    the broad principles of the Constitution into
    modern life

  • Would the Founding Fathers be troubled by the
    role of the Supreme Court in 2005?
  • Do Supreme courts follow popular opinion? Should
  • Is it true that the actions of Supreme Court have
    a greater pact on American Society than the
    President or Congress?

Specific Questions.
  • The Warren Court transformed American Society.
  • Did the Burger Court extend the judicial
    revolution that started during the Warren years
    or begin a counter-revolution?
  • How Conservative is the Rehnquist Court?