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Politics of the United States
AP Court cases
Terms in this set (29)
McCulloch v. Maryland
The necessary and proper clause allows national banks to be established by the federal government. States cannot tax federal entities.
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax. The state appeals court held that the Second Bank was unconstitutional because the Constitution did not provide a textual commitment for the federal government to charter a bank.
They said that banks should be taxed, but the courts said that they can't be taxed because it would be preventing the federal government from doing its job.
Gonzales v. Raich
The Controlled Substance Act does not exceed Congress' power over the cultivation and possession of marijuana for medical use. The commerce clause extends regulating interstate commerce concerning anti-discriminatory policies of Title II
In 1996 California voters passed the Compassionate Use Act, legalizing marijuana for medical use. California's law conflicted with the federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA), which banned possession of marijuana. The medical marijuana users argued the Controlled Substances Act exceeded Congress' commerce clause power. The district court ruled against the group. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and ruled the CSA unconstitutional as it applied to intrastate (within a state) medical marijuana use.
Relying on two U.S. Supreme Court decisions that narrowed Congress' commerce clause power - U.S. v. Lopez (1995) and U.S. v. Morrison (2000) - the Ninth Circuit ruled using medical marijuana did not "substantially affect" interstate commerce and therefore could not be regulated by Congress.
US v. Lopez
The Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990 is unconstitutional. Guns do not affect commerce.
Congress had exceeded its constitutional authority under the Commerce Clause when it passed a law prohibiting gun possession in local school zones.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US
Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is constitutional.
Congress has a right to regulate interstate commerce. The commerce clause extends regulating interstate commerce concerning anti-discriminatory policies of Title II.
The Heart of Atlanta Motel in Georgia refused to accept African Americans in their hotel but the civil rights act of 1964 forbade racial discrimination in public places. It also violated the commerce clause.
Engle v. Vitale
A school led prayer violates the establishment clause of the first amendment.
There was a state-written school-wide prayer recited every morning. Though it was voluntary, this prayer challenges First Amendment freedom of religion specifically, the Establishment Clause, which prohibits establishment of religion by the Government. Even though this prayer was optional to all students, the Supreme Court finally ruled that the school district could not uphold these prayers due to the rights in the First Amendment, stating that there must be a "Wall of Separation" between church and state.
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
School voucher programs do not violate the establishment clause. It is an individual's choice.
Ohio's Pilot Project Scholarship Program provides tuition aid in the form of vouchers for certain students in the Cleveland City School District to attend participating public or private schools of their parent's choosing. Both religious and nonreligious schools in the district may participate. Some people argued that this favored religious schools over non-religious school. However, the supreme court ruled that this does not violate the establishment clause because both religious and non religious school have equal chance for the scholarships. It was the parents who chose which school they would attend. It was also a challenge to the Establishment Clause, but it was ruled constitutional.
Wisconsin v. Yoder
The free exercise clause allows for Amish students to stop schooling earlier than compulsory education allows for.
This case was brought by the State of Wisconsin against members of the Conservative Amish Mennonite Church, who were persecuted because they violated a Wisconsin law stating that they had to send their children to school until the age of 16. This case questions if Wisconsin's law violated the defendant's First Amendment right under the Free Exercise Clause, and the court ruled that Amish children should not be forced to go to school after eighth grade.
Oregon v. Smith
States can deny unemployment benefits for workers fired for using illegal drugs. Must follow simple laws and company policies.
Two Native Americans who worked as counselors for a private drug rehabilitation organization, ingested peyote -- a powerful, illegal hallucinogen -- as part of their religious ceremonies as members of the Native American Church. The rehabilitation organization fired the counselors. The counselors filed a claim for unemployment compensation. The government denied them benefits because the reason for their dismissal was considered work-related "misconduct."
This questions if a state can deny unemployment benefits to a worker fired for using illegal drugs for religious purposes? The Court held that the First Amendment's protection of the "free exercise" of religion does not allow a person to use a religious motivation as a reason not to obey such generally applicable laws.
Tinker v. Des Moines
Students have the right to symbolic speech at school as long as it is not disruptive
The case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District calls into question the extent of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. John. F. Tinker and a group of students wore black armbands to school in protest of the government's involvement in Vietnam. When the school asked them to stop the protest, they refused and the problem escalated and the conflict was brought to court.
New York Times v. US
Prior restraint is unconstitutional. The Pentagon Papers can be released even if supposed to remain secretive.
This case was about the New York Times releasing "then" classified file on our relations with Vietnam. the Nixon Administration attempted to prevent the New York Times and Washington Post from publishing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam. The President argued that prior restraint was necessary to protect national security. The ruling made it possible for the NYT to post the files without risk of government censorship.
Morse v. Frederick
Having a sign exclaiming "Bongs Hit for Jesus" is not protected speech in school. School officials can stop students from displaying images of illegal drug use
Morse, the principal of a high school, was at a school-sponsored event when she noticed a group of students holding up a sign reading "Bong Hits for Jesus." Fredrick refused to take the banner down earning him a suspension from Morse. The superintendent of the school backed principal Morse's suspension of the student, agreeing that the poster went against school policy of advocating for illegal drug use. Frederick filed a case against the school, saying that they violated his first amendment rights. The district court found that the school did in fact violate his first amendment rights because there was no evidence that the student was doing anything to disrupt the peace of the school. Morse's actions were rendered unconstitutional.
The case then went to the supreme court, where they ruled that Fredrick's rights were not violated. This court shows that there is, in fact, a limitation to how far the first amendment rights protect students in schools. This case also showed how the court ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines was not final and applicable in all circumstances.
Edward Snowden released classified information stolen from the NSA. He was charged in criminal complaint with two violations of the Espionage Act. Involving unauthorized communication of classified information, and a charge of theft of government property.
Schneck v. US
The Espionage Act of 1917 is constitutional. Words that create a clear and present danger (shouting fire in a crowded theatre) are not protected. Speech is more restricted during war times.
Schenck was charged with violation of the Espionage Act by and obstructing the recruiting and enlistment service of the United States. Schenck sent out about 15,000 flyers because he thought the military draft was in violation of the thirteenth amendment's prohibition of involuntary servitude. He believed he could send the flyers because he thought he'd be protected under the First Amendment under the freedom of speech. However, Schenck was found guilty and was not protected under the first amendment because the decision was "the most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic" (Legal information institute). This means that normally, you would be able to say what you want, but since they are in a war, the First Amendment freedom of speech does not protect Schenck from passing out leaflets.
Texas v. Johnson
Burning an American flag is protected speech/freedom of expression. This was an act of political speech which must be protected even if parts of society disagrees.
Gregory Johnson burned an American flag in front of Dallas City Hall in 1984 because he was protesting against Reagan Administration policies. Johnson was charged with "violating a Texas statute that prevented the desecration of a venerated object, including the American flag, if such action were likely to incite anger in others" (US Courts). Johnson claimed he should be protected under the First Amendment because burning the flag was "symbolic speech". He was protected under the First Amendment.
Gideon v. Wainwright
The 6th amendment right to counsel applies to states/local government as well as the national government. You have a right to counsel.
In 1963, Clarence Earl Gideon was charged in Florida state court with felony breaking and entering. When he appeared in court without a lawyer, Gideon requested that the court appoint one for him. According to Florida state law, however, an attorney may only be appointed to an indigent defendant in capital cases, so the trial court did not appoint one. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida Supreme Court, arguing that the trial court's decision violated his constitutional right to be represented by counsel. A prior decision of the Court, Betts v. Brady, held that the refusal to appoint counsel did not violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The previous ruling of Betts v. Brady was reversed and remanded. The Court held that the Sixth Amendment's guarantee of counsel is a fundamental right essential to a fair trial and applies to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
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