Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)

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Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Robert A. In dissent, Judge Gerard E. I am confident that one day — and I hope that day comes soon — I will have that pleasure. The arguments in the Second Circuit had a curious feature: Lawyers for the federal government appeared on both sides.

One lawyer, representing the E. Another, representing the Trump administration, took the contrary view. The Georgia case was brought by a child welfare services coordinator who said he was fired for being gay. The justices also agreed to decide the separate question of whether Title VII bars discrimination against transgender people.

The case, R. Harris Funeral Homes v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission , No.

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Stephens had worked at the funeral home for six years. Her colleagues testified that she was able and compassionate. He wanted to dress as a woman. They also advocated for a general strike, and had put out a call to arms if the US intervened in Russia. They were sentenced to prison for up to 20 years.

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They appealed. The decision : The Supreme Court held that the Espionage Act was valid, and that it was a crime to willfully publish " disloyal " language about US politics, arguing that such speech was not protected by the First Amendment. One of the most important things to come out of this case is Justice Holmes' dissenting opinion. He argued that the government should only regulate people's expression when it was required to save the country. The case : The Maternity Act gave states money for programs aimed to help mothers and their infants.

A woman named Frothingham thought the act would lead to an increase in her taxes, so she tried to sue the federal government. The issue was whether a taxpayer had standing to sue, when the only injury was going to be an increase in taxes. The decision : The Supreme Court unanimously held she did not have standing because the injury was too small and indeterminable.

It led to the legal concept of a "particularized" injury , which needs to be traced to a legal violation. Without this decision, it would be a lot easier to take a suit to court.

'There is no protection': case of trans woman fired after coming out could make history

The case : A young woman named Carrie Buck was diagnosed with "feeble mindedness," and committed to a state institution after she was raped by her foster parent's nephew, and had his child. Her mother had also been diagnosed as feeble minded. Under the Virginia Eugenical Sterilization Act , she was to be sterilized against her will, since she was seen as unfit to procreate. Buck's appointed guardian sued, hoping to have the Supreme Court find sterilization constitutional. The decision : The Supreme Court held that there was nothing in the Eighth or 14th Amendments that said Carrie Buck could not be sterilized.

In his opinion, Justice Oliver Holmes wrote, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from breeding their kind. The principle that sustains compulsory vaccination is broad enough to cover cutting Fallopian tubes … Three generations of imbeciles are enough.

After this case, sterilizations did not cease until the s, and more than 60, people were sterilized without their consent. The case has never been overturned. The case : The Public Nuisance Bill, also known as the "Minnesota gag law," allowed judges to close down newspapers that were deemed obscene or slanderous. In , the Saturday Press, a newspaper based in Minneapolis, began to publish articles attacking several public officials.

One of them accused a politician named Floyd B. Olson of being a pawn to a conspiracy. Olson filed a complaint. A judge, using the law, issued a temporary restraining order against the newspaper. The newspaper appealed under the First Amendment's right to a free press. Chief Justice Hughes wrote, "This statute It is no longer open to doubt that the liberty of the press and of speech is within the liberty safeguarded by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from invasion of state action.

The case stopped journalists from being censored , and enabled the press to fulfill its role as watchdog, including the printing of the Pentagon Papers in The case : The Agricultural Adjustment Act of , enacted to stabilize agricultural prices after the Great Depression, restricted how much wheat could be grown , to avoid another recession.

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He sued, arguing Congress didn't have the authority, since he'd never planned to sell all of the wheat. The issue was whether Congress had the authority to regulate local wheat production. The decision : The Supreme Court unanimously held that Congress had the power to regulate activities in the industry, and within states, when the activities had substantial effects on interstate commerce.

So, even though Filburn's wheat wasn't all going to make it into the market, growing it still altered supply and demand in a national market. This case led to the federal government having more power to regulate the economy , and also enabled federal regulation of things like workplace safety and civil rights. Not everyone has been in favor of this case. Notably, the late Justice Antonia Scalia used to laugh at it. The case: In the s, Linda Brown had to take a dangerous route to school, because the only school that was closer was for white students.

Her father, Oliver Brown, believed this was a breach of the 14th Amendment, which says, "no state can deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that separate educational facilities were inherently unequal. A second decision called for lower courts and school boards to proceed with desegregation.

This decision knocked down the doctrine of "separate but equal" from Plessy v. Ferguson, which had allowed mixed race schools, transportation, and facilities to exist as long as they were "equal. The Atlantic described Chief Justice Earl Warren's "ringing opinion" as "the belated mid course correction that began America's transformation into a truly multiracial world nation. The case : When Ohio police thought a suspected bomber was hiding out in Dollree Mapp's house, they forced their way in without a warrant. When Mapp asked where the warrant was, they held up a piece of paper.

In their search of her house, they found pornographic materials.


They arrested Mapp and later convicted her for being in possession of obscene materials. She appealed. The decision : The Supreme Court held that any violation of the Fourth Amendment's right against unlawful searches and seizures made evidence inadmissible in court. Justice Clark wrote in his majority opinion that " the exclusionary rule ," which prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in criminal trials, was essential. This case has led to the redefining of the rights of people being accused and limits how police can obtain evidence.

Some parents argued it was a violation of individuals' rights, but the school board said it wasn't, since students could opt out. Five families led by parent Steven Engel disagreed, and sued on the basis that it violated the religion clause of the First Amendment.

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The decision: The Supreme Court held that reading an official prayer at school violated the constitution, because it was an " establishment of religion. The case meant any state-enforced prayer, or reading of the bible in a public school would be suspected. It also was a key case showing the enforcement of separation between church and state. The case : Clarence Earl Gideon was charged with breaking and entering a pool hall. He requested a lawyer to defend him, but Florida's state court rejected him. After defending himself poorly Gideon went to prison.

Giddeon appealed, and the issue was whether the right to counsel extended to felony defendants in state courts. The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that state courts were required to appoint attorneys for those who could not afford their own counsel. The US justice system would not be what it is today without this decision. The decision affirms that " lawyers in criminals courts are necessities, not luxuries. The case: This case stemmed from the apportionment scheme in Alabama.

Under the 14th Amendment, each voter's intentions are meant to have equal weight, but in Alabama, legislative districts were no longer accurately representing the amount of people who lived in them, especially in the cities, where populations had grown rapidly. The issue was whether this breached the "equal protection clause" in the 14th Amendment.

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  5. The decision: The Supreme Court held that Alabama's apportionment scheme had breached the 14th Amendment. The justices ruled that the right to vote is a fundamental right, and equal participation is crucial. Chief Justice Warren wrote for the majority: "legislators represent people, not trees or acres. This decision made the government more democratic. The case: The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Georgia refused to provide accommodation for black people, but the Civil Rights Act of banned the practice. Two hours after the act was passed, the motel asked the court to stop the enforcement of a clause in Title II, which forbid racist discrimination by public accommodation providers.

    The motel argued it exceeded Congress's power. The decision: The Supreme Court held unanimously that the act was not exceeding Congress's power. It reasoned that discrimination by businesses had a big impact on black people traveling, even when it was a small business, since negative effects could be far-reaching when added up. This was the first case to challenge the Civil Rights Act, and by upholding it, the act was legitimatized and strengthened. The law would go on to be used to dismantle many other forms of racist discrimination.

    The ad was looking for donations to defend Martin Luther King Jr. The ad had factual errors, and L. Sullivan, a Montgomery city commissioner, sued The Times for defamation, though he wasn't mentioned. The paper appealed. The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that while regular defamation requires that a defendant knows a statement is false or reckless, when it's a public figure, the defendant must act with "actual malice" — meaning they must know it was false or have a "reckless disregard" for the truth.

    This decision strengthens the freedom of the American press, which has the strongest protections in the world , ensuring debate on public issues is robust and open. The case: In , police obtained a written confession from Ernesto Miranda that said he had kidnapped and raped a woman. However, they had not advised Miranda of his right to have an attorney present during the interrogation. Miranda appealed on the basis that his confession had been gained unconstitutionally. The decision : The Supreme Court held that law enforcement must advise suspects of their right to remain silent, their right to an attorney, and that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law.

    Evidence could not be used in a trial unless the warnings had been given and knowingly waived. Police work, and the well-known "you have the right to remain silent" would not be so firmly entrenched into society or TV shows and movies without this decision. People know their rights, and police know they have to read them to suspects. The case : Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, were from Virginia, where inter-racial marriage was illegal. In , they got married in D. On their return, they were charged with breaking the law and sentenced to one year in prison. A judge suspended their sentence as long as they didn't return to the state together for 25 years.

    The decision : In a unanimous decision , the Supreme Court held that the law was unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment. Chief Justice Warren wrote, "Under our constitution the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the state. In a watershed moment for civil rights, the case found that people of any race, anywhere in the US, can get married, striking down laws banning inter-racial marriage in 16 states. The case was later cited in same-sex marriage cases. The case : In , three men were suspiciously walking back and forth in a block in Cleveland, Ohio, and a detective thought they were preparing to rob a store.

    He approached them, identified himself, then frisked them and found two concealed guns. One of the men was convicted for having the gun. The man appealed. The issue was whether police frisking violated the Fourth Amendment. The decision : The Supreme Court held that the search was reasonable since the men were acting suspiciously, warranting inquiry. If circumstances justify a belief that an individual is armed and dangerous, the justices ruled, the officer may pat down the outside of an individual's clothing. Justice William O. Douglas, the lone dissenter, did not think the standard for search and seizures should have been lowered from "probable cause" to "reasonable suspicion.

    The decision to enter it should be made only after a full debate by the people of this country. The case : Clarence Brandenburg was arrested after making racist remarks and claiming the government was suppressing the "Caucasian race" to a gathering of Ku Klux Klan members in a field in Ohio. He also mentioned action might need to be taken, and was filmed by media he had invited to the gathering. The state law criminalized advocating violence as a means of accomplishing political reform, and he was sentenced to up to 10 years prison.

    The issue was whether speech advocating for violence was protected by the First Amendment. The decision : The Supreme Court held per curiam , which means in the name of the court rather than the judges, that his freedom of speech had been violated. It found that speech may only be outlawed when it is directly inciting " imminent lawless action. This case broadened protections for political dissent.

    She had seven children, and the business had a hiring policy excluding mothers with pre-school children, believing them to be unreliable. Phillips alleged she'd been denied employment because of her sex. The case was complicated , because the company hired women for the job, just not women with young children. The decision: The Supreme Court unanimously held that it was discriminatory, since it was based on the sex of the applicant, even if it was about motherhood.

    However, it did send the case back to lower courts to give the corporation a chance to present evidence about the impeded ability of mothers with young children. And the judges were uneasy about the idea that both sexes were equally equipped to do all jobs. Justice Hugo Black asked Phillips' lawyer , "Does the law require that the employer give the woman a job of digging ditches and things of that kind? The case : In Wisconsin, children were required by law to attend school until they were Amish families think the content of secondary and higher education conflicts with their life of austerity.

    They argued the compulsory attendance violated their rights under the First Amendment, specifically the Free Exercise Clause. The decision : The Supreme Court held unanimously that the Amish families' right to religious freedom was not overridden by the state's interest in education. It held that sending the children to high school would threaten the Amish way of life.

    Freedom of religion was seen as more important than the state's interest in education, and this case created an exception for Amish people, and others in similar situations. The justices agreed overall on the ruling, but Justice William O. Douglas filed a partial dissent arguing that the children's viewpoint wasn't being considered, worried that they may miss out on an education if they're not asked whether they want to go to high school. The case : This case stemmed from a Texas law that said abortion was illegal unless, by doctor's orders, it was to save a woman's life.

    An anonymous plaintiff called Jane Roe who was later identified as Norma McCorvey filed against the Dallas County district attorney, arguing the law was unconstitutional. The decision : The Supreme Court held that overly restrictive legislation around abortion was unconstitutional. The panel found that discrimination based on sexual orientation is not protected by Title VII. The judges reasoned that "we cannot overrule a prior panel's holding, regardless of whether we think it was wrong, unless an intervening Supreme Court or Eleventh Circuit en banc decision is issued.

    The 11th Circuit declined to hear the case en banc. In a sharply worded dissent from that denial, Judge Robin Rosenbaum cited a report showing that 25 percent of LGBT Americans reported experiencing workplace discrimination. She accused the majority of relying for precedent on a case that was decided ten years before Price Waterhouse, the gender stereotyping case.

    Price Waterhouse, she wrote, "requires the conclusion that Title VII prohibits discrimination against gay and lesbian individuals because their sexual preferences do not conform to their employers' views of whom individuals of their respective genders should love. The final case the court agreed to take involves Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was fired from her job as a funeral director at R. Harris Funeral Home two weeks after she told her boss that she was a woman.

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    While the other cases involve sexual orientation, Stephens' case is a dispute concerning her gender identity. The U. Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC delivered to your inbox. Get this delivered to your inbox, and more info about our products and services. Privacy Policy. All Rights Reserved.

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    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)
    Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law) Historic Supreme Court Cases on Discrimination (LandMark Case Law)

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