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2nd Amendment- The Right to Bear arms

 

DC v Heller (2008): Declared a law passed by DC in 1976 unconstitutional. The law banned the ownership of handguns and required shotguns and rifles be kept unloaded. The case is important as it directly deals with the wording of the second amendment. The Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia, and to use that firearm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self- defense within the home.

McDonald v Chicago (2010): Court challenged Chicago’s bans on handguns. Court declared that the 2nd amendment gives a fundamental right to bear arms and the due process clause (14th amendment) means that the right cannot be infringed by state or local government. Decision, 5-4 to McDonald (Scalia, Alito, Thomas, Roberts, Kennedy)

 

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8th Amendment- Cruel and Unusual Punishment

 

Furman v Georgia (1971): Furman was burglarizing a home, a member of the home caught him and as he fled he tripped which caused his gun to shoot and kill the member. He was sentenced to death. Question: Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments? Decision, 5-4 to Furman (Douglas, Brennan, White, Stewart, Marshall)

Ring v. Arizona (2002): At Timothy Ring's trial for murder, the jury deadlocked on premeditated murder, but found Ring guilty of felony murder occurring in the course of armed robbery. Under Arizona law, Ring could not be sentenced to death, unless further findings were made by a judge conducting a separate sentencing hearing and only if the judge finds at least one aggravating circumstance and no mitigating circumstances sufficiently substantial to call for leniency Question: Does Arizona's capital sentencing scheme violate the Sixth Amendment's jury trial guarantee by entrusting to a judge the finding of facts sufficient to impose the death penalty?Decision: 7 votes for Ring, 2 vote(s) against

Legal provision: Right to Trial By Jury

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14th Amendment- Rights of racial minorities

Plessy v Ferguson (1898) 'Separate but equal': The state of Louisiana enacted a law that required separate railway cars for blacks and whites. In 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy--who was seven-eighths Caucasian--took a seat in a "whites only" car of a Louisiana train. He refused to move to the car reserved for blacks and was arrested. Question: Is Louisiana's law mandating racial segregation on its trains an unconstitutional infringement on both the privileges and immunities and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?- No, the state law is within constitutional boundaries. Decision: 7 votes for Ferguson, 1 vote(s) against

Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954): Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. 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 14th Amendment?- Yes, separation of public schools= unconstitutional

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Forcible segregation, dealt with the busing of students to promote integration. The ruling of Brown v. Board had widely been ignored Decision: Unanimous vote for Charlotte Meck , the busing to promote integration was held constitutional.

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14th Amendment- Rights of racial minorities

Plessy v Ferguson (1898) 'Separate but equal': The state of Louisiana enacted a law that required separate railway cars for blacks and whites. In 1892, Homer Adolph Plessy--who was seven-eighths Caucasian--took a seat in a "whites only" car of a Louisiana train. He refused to move to the car reserved for blacks and was arrested. Question: Is Louisiana's law mandating racial segregation on its trains an unconstitutional infringement on both the privileges and immunities and the equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment?- No, the state law is within constitutional boundaries. Decision: 7 votes for Ferguson, 1 vote(s) against

Brown v. Topeka Board of Education (1954): Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. 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 14th Amendment?- Yes, separation of public schools= unconstitutional

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg: Forcible segregation, dealt with the busing of students to promote integration. The ruling of Brown v. Board had widely been ignored Decision: Unanimous vote for Charlotte Meck , the busing to promote integration was held constitutional.

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Bill of Rights, Amendment I.

Religion: - Engel v. Vitale (1962). This case ruled it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and encourage its recitation in public schools. It was brought to the courts by Jewish families who were offended by the use of ‘Almighty God’ in the school prayers in New Hyde Park, NY. Decision: 6 votes for Engel, 1 vote against

McCreary v. ACLU (2005) - Petitioners in Kentucky placed visible copies of the 10 commandments in the state court houses, the American Civil Liberties Union sued them on the grounds of violating the 1st amendments Establishment Clause. A month later the legislative bodies of the counties allowed a display of the commandments, stating that they were precedent legal code, the district court ordered for their removal. The government must be neutral towards religion as highlighted in the 1st amendment therefore the displays were ruled unconstitutional.  Decision: 5 votes for ACLU, 4 votes against

Santa Fe School District v. Doe (1995-2000)It ruled that a policy permitting student-led, student-initiated prayer at high school football games directly violated the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment and was banned. Decision: 6 votes for Doe, 3 votes against

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Bill of Rights Amendment I

Free Press/Speech: - Buckley v. Valeo (1976). This case restricted money spent in election campaigns by individuals. Provisions of the constitutionality of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 were challenged as unconstitutional. However, the Supreme Court ruled that having individual contribution limits, the disclosure and reporting provisions and the public financing schemes are constitutional. Decision: 7 votes for Buckley, 1 vote against

Texas v. Johnson (1989) – This case highlights a clash of State and National law. The Defendant Johnson publically burned the American Flag. This was a violation of the Texas State law and he was convicted. The Supreme Court overturned this conviction because they ruled the Texas law unconstitutional. Justice William Brennan wrote for a five-justice majority in holding that the defendant Johnson's act of flag burning was protected speech under the First Amendment. Decision: 5 votes for Johnson, 4 votes against

Snyder v. Phelps (Westboro Baptist Church) (2011) - Phelps and his followers picketed a dead soldier’s funeral, against homosexuality in the military. Snyder, father of the soldier, sued claiming that their actions caused him severe emotional distress. Phelps argued that his actions and speech were protected under the 1st Amendment. A jury in the District Court of Maryland agreed with Snyder and awarded him compensation. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals then reversed the judgment, holding that Phelps' speech was protected by the 1st Amendment. Decision: 8 votes for Phelps, 1 vote against

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Bill of Rights, Amendment II

United States v. Lopez (1995) - Lopez was paid $40 to deliver an unloaded gun during school time, the school authorities found out and he was charged with violation of the Texas federal Gun-Free School Zones Act of 1990. Decision: 5 votes for Lopez, 4 votes against

Heller v. DC (2008) - The District of Columbia has a ban on handguns without licenses, and in addition prohibits them from being in the home unless they are disabled. Heller brings an action claiming that this complete ban violates the 2nd Amendment. The Supreme Court ruled the ban of handguns in the home as unconstitutional, a complete ban on handgun possession in the home violates the 2nd Amendment, as does its prohibition against rendering any lawful firearm in the home inoperable for the purpose of immediate self-defence. 5 votes for Heller, 4 votes against

 

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Amendment V- Right to Jury

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) - Gideon was charged with breaking and entering with the intent to commit a misdemeanour, which is a felony under Florida law.  At trial, Gideon appeared in court without an attorney, he was denied counsel by the Judge because Florida law only permitted appointment of counsel for poor defendants charged with capital offenses. Unanimous vote for Gideon.

Miranda v. Arizona (1966) - Suspects were questioned by police officers, detectives, or prosecuting attorneys in rooms that cut them off from the outside world. In none of the cases were suspects given warnings of their rights at the outset of their interrogation. The Court was called upon to consider the constitutionality of a number of instances, ruled on jointly, in which defendants were questioned "while in custody or otherwise deprived of [their] freedom in any significant way." Decision: 5 votes for Miranda, 4 votes against

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