Supreme Court Case Studies

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1 Supreme Court Case Studies

2 To the Teacher The Supreme Court Case Studies booklet contains 82 reproducible Supreme Court case studies. These cases include landmark decisions in American government that have helped and continue to shape this nation, as well as decisions dealing with current issues in American society. Every case includes background information, the constitutional issue under consideration, the court s decision, and where appropriate, dissenting opinions. Each two-page study requires students to analyze the case and apply critical thinking skills. An answer key is provided in the back of the booklet. Creating a Customized File There are a variety of ways to organize Glencoe Social Studies teaching aids. Several alternatives in creating your own files are given below. Organize by category (all activities, all tests, etc.) Organize by category and chapter (all Chapter 1 activities, all Chapter 1 tests and quizzes, etc.) Organize sequentially by lesson (activities, quizzes, tests, for Chapter 1/Section 1, Chapter 1/Section 2, etc.) No matter what organization you use, you can pull out individual worksheets from these booklets for your files, or you may photocopy directly from the booklet and file the photocopies. You will then be able to keep the original booklets intact and in a safe place. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to reproduce the material contained herein on the condition that such material be reproduced only for classroom use; be provided to students, teachers, and families, without charge; and be used solely in conjunction with Glencoe Social Studies products. Any other reproduction, for use or sale, is prohibited without written permission from the publisher. Send all inquiries to: Glencoe/McGraw-Hill 8787 Orion Place Columbus, Ohio ISBN: MHID: X Printed in the United States of America

3 Table of Contents To the Teacher... ii Supreme Court Case Studies Case Study 1: Marbury v. Madison, Case Study 2: McCulloch v. Maryland, Case Study 3: Dartmouth College v. Woodward, Case Study 4: Gibbons v. Ogden, Case Study 5: Worcester v. Georgia, Case Study 6: Dred Scott v. Sandford, Case Study 7: Ex Parte Milligan, Case Study 8: Slaughterhouse Cases, Case Study 9: Reynolds v. United States, Case Study 10: Civil Rights Cases, Case Study 11: Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois, Case Study 12: United States v. E.C. Knight Co., Case Study 13: In re Debs, Case Study 14: Plessy v. Ferguson, Case Study 15: Northern Securities Company v. United States, Case Study 16: Lochner v. New York, Case Study 17: Muller v. Oregon, Case Study 18: Weeks v. United States, Case Study 19: Schenck v. United States, Case Study 20: Gitlow v. New York, Case Study 21: Whitney v. California, Case Study 22: Olmstead v. United States, Case Study 23: Near v. Minnesota, Case Study 24: Powell v. Alabama, Case Study 25: A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corporation v. United States, Case Study 26: DeJonge v. Oregon, Case Study 27: West Coast Hotel v. Parrish, Case Study 28: Minersville School District v. Gobitis, Case Study 29: Betts v. Brady, Case Study 30: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, Case Study 31: Endo v. United States, Case Study 32: Korematsu v. United States, Case Study 33: Everson v. Board of Education, Supreme Court Case Studies iii

4 Case Study 34: McCollum v. Board of Education, Case Study 35: Dennis v. United States, Case Study 36: Feiner v. New York, Case Study 37: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, Case Study 38: Watkins v. United States, Case Study 39: Yates v. United States, Case Study 40: Barenblatt v. United States, Case Study 41: Mapp v. Ohio, Case Study 42: Baker v. Carr, Case Study 43: Engel v. Vitale, Case Study 44: Abington School District v. Schempp, Case Study 45: Gideon v. Wainwright, Case Study 46: Escobedo v. Illinois, Case Study 47: Reynolds v. Sims, Case Study 48: Wesberry v. Sanders, Case Study 49: Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States, Case Study 50: Miranda v. Arizona, Case Study 51: Sheppard v. Maxwell, Case Study 52: Katz v. United States, Case Study 53: Tinker v. Des Moines, Case Study 54: Gregory v. Chicago, Case Study 55: New York Times v. United States, Case Study 56: Reed v. Reed, Case Study 57: Wisconsin v. Yoder, Case Study 58: Roe v. Wade, Case Study 59: United States v. Nixon, Case Study 60: Gregg v. Georgia, Case Study 61: Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, Case Study 62: Kaiser Aluminum and Chemical Corporation v. Weber, Case Study 63: New Jersey v. T.L.O., Case Study 64: Wallace v. Jaffree, Case Study 65: Bethel School District v. Fraser, Case Study 66: Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier, Case Study 67: Skinner v. Railway Labor Executives Association, Case Study 68: Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health, Case Study 69: California v. Acevedo, Case Study 70: International Union, UAW v. Johnson Controls, Inc., iv Supreme Court Case Studies

5 Case Study 71: Payne v. Tennessee, Case Study 72: Arizona v. Fulminante, Case Study 73: Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey, Case Study 74: Shaw v. Reno, Case Study 75: National Organization for Women (NOW) v. Scheidler, Case Study 76: Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, Case Study 77: Agostini v. Felton, Case Study 78: Illinois v. Wordlow, Case Study 79: Alexander v. Sandoval, Case Study 80: Whitman v. American Trucking Associations, Cast Study 81: Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, Case Study 82: Kelo v. City of New London, Answer Key Supreme Court Case Studies v

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7 Supreme Court Case Study 1 The Supreme Court s Power of Judicial Review Marbury v. Madison, 1803 Background of the Case The election of 1800 transferred power in the federal government from the Federalist Party to the Republican Party. In the closing days of President John Adams s administration, the Federalists created many new government offices, appointing Federalists to fill them. One of the last-minute or midnight appointments was that of William Marbury. Marbury was named a justice of the peace for the District of Columbia. President Adams had signed the papers, but his secretary of state, John Marshall, somehow neglected to deliver the papers necessary to finalize the appointment. The new president, Thomas Jefferson, was angry at the defeated Federalists attempt to keep a dead clutch on the patronage and ordered his new secretary of state, James Madison, not to deliver Marbury s commission papers. Marbury took his case to the Supreme Court, of which John Marshall was now the Chief Justice, for a writ of mandamus an order from a court that some action be performed commanding Madison to deliver the commission papers in accordance with the Judiciary Act of Constitutional Issue Article III of the Constitution sets up the Supreme Court as the head of the federal judicial system. Historians believe that the Founders meant the Court to have the power of judicial review, that is, the power to review the constitutionality of acts of Congress and to invalidate those that it determines to be unconstitutional. The Constitution, however, does not specifically give the Court this right. Chief Justice John Marshall, as a Federalist, believed strongly that the Supreme Court should have the power of judicial review. When the Marbury case presented the perfect opportunity to clearly establish that power, Marshall laid out several points which the court believed supported the right of judicial review. At the time, the decision was viewed as a curtailment of the power of the president, but people today recognize that the case established, once and for all, the importance of the Supreme Court in American government. The Supreme Court s Decision Justice Marshall reviewed the case on the basis of three questions: Did Marbury have a right to the commission? If so, was he entitled to some remedy under United States law? Was that remedy a writ from the Supreme Court? Marshall decided the first question by holding that an appointment is effective once a commission has been signed and the U.S. seal affixed, as Marbury s commission had been. Therefore, Marbury had been legally appointed, and Madison s refusal to deliver the (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 1

8 Supreme Court Case Study 1 (continued) commission violated Marbury s right to the appointment. In response to the second question, Marshall held that Marbury was entitled to some remedy under United States law. The final question examined whether the Court had the power to issue the writ. Marshall explained that the right to issue writs like the one Marbury was requesting had been granted the Court by the Judiciary Act of This law, however, was unconstitutional and void because the Constitution did not grant Congress the right to make such a law. In his written opinion, Marshall defended the right of the Court to declare a law unconstitutional: It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is...if two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each. The Supreme Court thus became the final judge of constitutionality, thus establishing the principle of judicial review. At the time, observers were much more interested in the practical result of the ruling that the Court could not issue the writ, and could not, therefore, force the appointment of Marbury. Congress could not expand the Court s original jurisdiction, and the Constitution does not give the Court the authority to issue a writ. They paid much less attention to the long-term implications of the decision. Here is how a constitutional scholar evaluates the Marbury decision: Over the passage of time [the] Marbury [decision] came to stand for the monumental principle, so distinctive and dominant a feature of our constitutional system, that the Court may bind the coordinate branches of the national government to its rulings on what is the supreme law of the land. That principle stands out from Marbury like the grin on a Cheshire cat; all else, which preoccupied national attention in 1803, disappeared in our constitutional law. Not until fifty years after rendering the Marbury decision did the Court again declare a law unconstitutional, but by then the idea of judicial review had become a time-honored principle. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. Why is the Marbury case important in the history of the Supreme Court? 2. In what way did the Marbury decision enhance the system of checks and balances provided for in the Constitution? 3. Constitutional scholars have pointed out there is an inconsistency in Justice Marshall s opinion with respect to what the Constitution specifically provides. What is that inconsistency? 4. The United States is one of the few countries in which the highest court of the land has the power to declare a law unconstitutional. Do you believe that such a power is of benefit to a country? Explain your answer. 5. Justice John Marshall was a Federalist who believed in a strong national government and certainly moved in this direction with his Marbury ruling. Do you think it is proper for a Supreme Court Justice to allow his or her personal political opinions to influence the rulings of the Court? Explain. 2 Supreme Court Case Studies

9 Supreme Court Case Study 2 Power of the Federal Government v. Power of the State Government McCulloch v. Maryland, 1819 Background of the Case The Supreme Court first settled a dispute between a national and a state law in The Second Bank of the United States had been chartered by Congress in Large sections of the country, especially the West and South, bitterly opposed the Bank. The Bank s tight credit policies contributed to an economic depression, and many states reacted against what they saw as a ruthless money trust and the monster monopoly. Two states even prohibited the bank from operating within their jurisdictions. Six other states taxed Bank operations. In 1818 the Maryland legislature placed a substantial tax on the operations of the Baltimore branch of the Bank of the United States. The cashier of the Baltimore branch, James McCulloch, issued bank notes without paying the tax. After Maryland state courts ruled against McCulloch for having broken the state law, he appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional Issues One of the issues that concerned the Founders at the Constitutional Convention was how to divide power between the federal government and state governments. Reconciling national and local interests proved difficult. In the McCulloch case, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of federal power. The constitutional questions in the McCulloch v. Maryland case concern both the powers of Congress and the relationship between federal and state authorities. The Supreme Court s Decision Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the decision for a unanimous Court. He started with the question, Has Congress the power to incorporate a bank? In first determining the extent of congressional power, Marshall held that the Constitution is a creation not of the states, but of the people, acting through statewide constitutional conventions. Therefore, the states are bound in obligation to the Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land. Marshall summed up the decision based on the Supremacy Clause, saying, If any one proposition could command the universal assent of mankind we might expect it to be this that the government of the Union, though limited in its powers, is supreme within its sphere of action...the states have no power to retard, impede, burden, or in any manner control, the operation of the constitutional laws enacted by Congress. Although the specific powers of Congress do not include the power to charter a corporation, the section enumerating these powers includes a statement giving Congress the authority to make the laws necessary and proper for executing its specific tasks. In Marshall s analysis, the terms necessary and proper grant Congress implied powers to carry out granted, or enumerated, powers. Let the end be legitimate, let it be within the scope of the Constitution, (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 3

10 Supreme Court Case Study 2 (continued) and all means which are appropriate, which are plainly adapted to that end, which are not prohibited, but consistent with the letter and spirit of the Constitution, are constitutional, the Chief Justice wrote. The choice of means is for Congress to decide. In the McCulloch case, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate a bank. On the question of the validity of Maryland s bank tax, Marshall again noted the Constitution s supremacy, but he also recognized a state s constitutional right to impose taxes. Echoing his earlier argument, Marshall observed that a government may properly tax its subjects or their property. The federal government and its agencies, however, are not subjects of any state. A tax on a national institution by one state would be an indirect tax on citizens of other states, who would not benefit from such a tax. Furthermore, the power to tax, if misused, is also the power to harm an institution. The power of Congress to establish an institution must imply the right to take all steps necessary for its preservation. In a conflict between the federal power to create and preserve a corporation and a state s power to levy a tax, the state must yield. Therefore, the Court denied Maryland s power to tax the Second Bank of the United States. In this way Marshall ensured the power of Congress to enact legislation under a Constitution intended to endure for ages to come, and, consequently, to be adapted to the various crises of human affairs. In conclusion, Marshall wrote,... this is a tax on the operations of the bank, and is, consequently, a tax on the operation of an instrument employed by the government of the Union to carry its powers into execution. Such a tax must be unconstitutional... The Court s decision in the McCulloch case brought a storm of abuse raining down on the Court. Virginia passed a resolution urging that the Supreme Court be divested of its power to pass on cases in which states were parties. Ohio, which like Maryland had a tax on the United States Bank, simply continued to collect the tax. The decision was particularly offensive to believers in the strict, literal interpretation of the Constitution because it sustained the doctrine of implied powers. Nevertheless, the McCulloch decision, in upholding the principle of implied powers, enlarged the power of the federal government considerably and laid the constitutional foundations for the New Deal in the 1930s and the welfare state of the 1960s. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. What constitutional principle did the Supreme Court establish in the McCulloch case? 2. What is the objective of the necessary and proper clause? 3. What was the basis for the Court s ruling that Maryland could not tax the Second Bank of the United States? 4. How did the fact that Justice Marshall was a Federalist influence his ruling in the McCulloch case? 5. How did the McCulloch ruling contribute to the strength of the national government? 4 Supreme Court Case Studies

11 Supreme Court Case Study 3 The Meaning of a Contract Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 1819 Background of the Case Dartmouth College originally had been granted a charter by the British crown in 1769, prior to American independence from Great Britain, for the purpose of educating Native Americans and promoting learning in general. In the early 1800s, the college had become involved in state politics on the side of the Federalists. In 1815 the Dartmouth College trustees decided to remove the president of the college. The state legislature, now controlled by Republicans, sided with the college president against the Federalist trustees and sought to grasp control of the college away from them. In 1816, after independence, the legislature passed a series of statutes that had the effect of converting Dartmouth, a private college, into a state university under public control. The highest court of New Hampshire sustained the state statutes. The trustees appealed the case to the United States Supreme Court, arguing that the New Hampshire statutes impaired their contractual rights in violation of the Constitution. They had as one of their attorneys the great statesman and orator, Daniel Webster. Constitutional Issue Under common law the principles and rules established through court decisions over the years a contract was an agreement between two or more parties to perform certain actions. Under Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution, states were prevented from impairing the obligation of a contract. The Supreme Court s Decision Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the Court s opinion, which held that the state acts placing Dartmouth under state control constituted an impairment of contract, and thus was unconstitutional. The state treasurer, Woodward, was required to return college records, the corporate seal, and other corporate property to the trustees. The core of the decision was the Court s ruling that a charter for a private corporation, granted by the British crown before independence and the adoption of the Constitution, was protected by Article I, Section 10, of the Constitution. Marshall granted that this clause was not specifically designed to protect charters creating charitable, educational, or other nonprofit corporations of incorporation. It is more than possible, he wrote, that the preservation of rights of this description was not particularly in the view of the framers of the constitution when the clause under consideration was introduced into that instrument. On the other hand, according to Marshall, the contract clause provided no exceptions with respect to private, nonprofit entities. It is not enough to say that this particular case was not in the mind of the convention when the article was framed, nor of the American people when it was adopted, Marshall wrote. Therefore, he continued, since there was no proof that the language of the Constitution would have been changed if charters incorporating nonprofit (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 5

12 Supreme Court Case Study 3 (continued) entities had been considered, the case fell under the prohibition of state interference with contracts. There is no expression in the constitution, no sentiment delivered by its contemporaneous expounders, which would justify us in making it. If a charter of incorporation is lawfully bestowed, the charter has every ingredient of a complete and legitimate contract and is protected from state infringement by the contracts clause. The Dartmouth College decision made it clear that states were not permitted to take over private institutions, such as a private educational institution, and make them public. States, therefore, began to establish their own state universities. By protecting nonprofit entities, the Court was essentially protecting all corporations. As the economy of the United States grew, the corporate form of business organization became more and more common. Corporate charters, granted by state governments, were increasingly used to establish manufacturing and commercial businesses. The Dartmouth College case provided a protection for owners and management interests and a climate of legal stability that promoted economic growth. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. What effect did the Supreme Court s decision have on Dartmouth College? 2. The Constitution did not mention corporations in Article I, Section 10, so how did Justice Marshall justify ruling that Dartmouth s charter was a contract? 3. Why is the Dartmouth case considered to be important in the economic history of the United States? 4. Historians point out that the Dartmouth decision had an effect on the growth of state universities. Why do you think states established state universities after this decision? 5. Justice John Marshall believed in a strong central government. How did the Dartmouth decision relate to this belief? 6 Supreme Court Case Studies

13 Supreme Court Case Study 4 Regulation of Interstate Commerce Gibbons v. Ogden, 1824 Background of the Case In 1798 the New York legislature gave Robert Fulton a monopoly for steamboat navigation in New York. In 1811 Fulton s partner, Robert Livingston, assigned to Aaron Ogden an exclusive license to run a ferry service on the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey a very profitable business. Seeking to take advantage of this flourishing trade, a competitor, Thomas Gibbons, secured a license from the federal government to operate a ferry between Elizabethtown, New Jersey, and New York City. Claiming that his monopoly rights were being infringed, Ogden obtained an injunction in a New York state court forbidding Gibbons s boat from docking in New York. (An injunction is an order by a court prohibiting a person or a group from carrying out a specific action.) Gibbons appealed the state court s decision to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional Issues The Constitution did not make clear what was meant by interstate commerce or the extent to which it could be regulated. At the time of this case in 1824, New York had closed its ports to vessels not owned or licensed by a monopoly chartered by the state. In retaliation, other states passed similar laws that limited access to their ports. The United States attorney maintained that the country faced a commercial civil war. In the absence of a clear statement of what is meant by interstate commerce, how did the federal government have the power to intervene? The Gibbons v. Ogden case presented the Supreme Court with the first opportunity to consider the ramifications of the commerce clause contained in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. This clause gave Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes. Several constitutional questions were involved in the case, revolving around an interpretation of the commerce clause. The first question was whether navigation should be considered to be a part of commerce. Then, if navigation should be so considered, to what extent might Congress regulate it? Another question was whether Congress had an exclusive right to regulate interstate commerce or if this was a concurrent power to be shared with the states. The Supreme Court s Decision The Court held in favor of Gibbons. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote that commerce describes the commercial intercourse between nations, and parts of nations, in all its branches, and is regulated by prescribing rules for carrying on that intercourse. The mind can scarcely conceive a system for regulating commerce between nations which shall exclude navigation... (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 7

14 Supreme Court Case Study 4 (continued) Marshall applied the same reasoning to commerce between states. In fact, he noted, the United States government had always regulated navigation. All America understands, he wrote, and has uniformly understood the word commerce to comprehend navigation... Thus the Court held that a power to regulate navigation is expressly granted as if that term had been added to the word commerce. Marshall now turned to the meaning of among, as in among the several states. He reasoned that since among means intermingled with, commerce among the states cannot stop at the external boundary line of each state but may be introduced into the interior. Congress had no power over commerce which was confined to one state alone, but that power was in full force as soon as a state s boundary line had been crossed. And the power to regulate must necessarily follow any commerce in question right across those boundaries. Marshall concluded that, like other congressional powers, the power to regulate commerce is unlimited so long as it is applied to objects specified in the Constitution. The case also raised the question as to whether Congress s power to regulate is exclusive. If it is, then a state would be prevented from making its own commerce regulations. Marshall chose not to resolve this question. Instead, he wrote that in the Gibbons case there was a conflict between the state s law and a federal statute. In every such case, the act of Congress...is supreme; and the law of the state...must yield to it. Gibbons s right to operate ferry service in competition with Ogden was therefore upheld. By broadening the meaning of interstate commerce, Marshall laid the groundwork for including not only such clearly interstate activities as railroads and pipelines, but also the minimum wage regulation and prohibition of child labor. Robert Jackson, a Supreme Court justice who served in the mid-1900s, was thus correct when he declared, Chief Justice Marshall described the federal commerce power with a breadth never exceeded. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. If you operated a trucking service between San Francisco, California, and Portland, Oregon, could you be subject to regulation by either or both of the states and the federal government? Explain. 2. Why was it necessary for Marshall to take the trouble to explain why navigation should be considered as part of commerce? 3. Explain in what way Justice Jackson s characterization of Marshall s Gibbons opinion was correct. 4. In what way is Marshall s ruling in the Gibbons case consistent with his other decisions, such as McCulloch v. Maryland, that related to federal versus state powers? 5. Do you agree with Marshall s ruling that Gibbons had a right to compete with Ogden s ferry line? Give reasons for your answer. 8 Supreme Court Case Studies

15 Supreme Court Case Study 5 Tribal Reservations and States Rights Worcester v. Georgia, 1832 Background of the Case The Cherokee people occupied lands in Georgia and several adjoining states. The Cherokee Nation had made treaties with the U.S. federal government, such as the Treaty of Hopewell in The Cherokee Nation thus claimed sovereignty meaning it was its own nation with its own laws. Samuel Worcester was a minister from Vermont. His mission sent him to the Cherokee capital in New Echota, Georgia, in The Georgia government saw Worcester and other missionaries as being influential in the Cherokee Nation s resistance to Georgia s government. Because of this, Georgia passed an act to prevent white persons from residing within that part of...georgia occupied by the Cherokee Indians without obtaining a state permit and swearing loyalty to the state. Worcester refused to obtain a permit or to swear loyalty to Georgia. In September 1831, Worcester and several others were arrested. They were tried, convicted, and sentenced to four years of hard labor. The missionaries, represented by lawyers hired by the Cherokee people, appealed their conviction to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional Issue The issue was whether a state government has the authority to control contact between American citizens and the Cherokee Nation. In 1831, the Supreme Court had considered the case of Cherokee Nation v. Georgia in which the state of Georgia declared Cherokee laws to be null and void and the Cherokee Nation responded by asking for an injunction to prevent their laws and government from being dissolved. Justice John Marshall wrote that Native Americans were domestic dependent nations who could not appeal in federal courts. Samuel Worcester claimed that the Georgia courts had no jurisdiction over the Cherokee Nation. The treaties between the United States and the Cherokee Nation implied that each was a sovereign nation. Worcester s lawyers contended that under the Indian Commerce Clause (Section 8, Article 1) of the Constitution, only Congress has the power to regulate commerce...with the Indian tribes. The Supreme Court s Decision In a 6 to 1 ruling, the Supreme Court overturned the convictions of Worcester and other missionaries. The Court held that the Georgia Act violated the Constitution, treaties, and laws of the United States. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion. (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 9

16 Supreme Court Case Study 5 (continued) Marshall declared the Cherokee Nation to be a distinct community occupying its own territory... in which the laws of Georgia can have no force. Discussing the Treaty of Hopewell, Marshall wrote, Protection does not imply the destruction of the protected... To construe the expression managing all their affairs into a surrender of self-government would be, we think, a perversion of their necessary meaning. The act under which Worcester was imprisoned was thus declared unconstitutional. President Andrew Jackson s administration refused to enforce the Court s decision. In 1835, the government signed a removal treaty with a small number of Cherokee. The U.S. Army resettled many Cherokee through a brutal, forced march to present-day Oklahoma. The Cherokee called this resettlement march the Trail of Tears. Later, the Worcester decision was revived and became a legal weapon against encroachments on Native American rights. Dissenting Opinion Justice Henry Baldwin dissented. He referred back to his opinion in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831). In this matter, Justice Baldwin claimed that by accepting the Treaty of Hopewell, The Indians...do acknowledge all the Cherokees to be under the protection of the United States. Baldwin reasoned that this acceptance of United States protection waived all claims of Cherokee sovereignty. Furthermore, if the Court agreed to hear one such case, the federal courts would be overwhelmed with cases. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. Why did Samuel Worcester challenge the constitutionality of the Georgia act? 2. How did the Court s opinion in the Cherokee Nation case differ from Worcester? 3. Do you agree more with Justice Marshall s opinion or with Justice Baldwin s dissent? Give reasons for your answer. 4. Suppose you were a Cherokee living at the time of the Worcester decision. How would the Court s ruling have affected you? 5. Why was the Worcester decision important in terms of Native American rights? 10 Supreme Court Case Studies

17 Supreme Court Case Study 6 The Right to Freedom of Enslaved Persons Dred Scott v. Sandford, 1857 Background of the Case John Emerson, a United States Army surgeon, took enslaved African Dred Scott to live at military posts in Illinois, a free state in 1834, and then to posts in the territory of Upper Louisiana (now Minnesota), where slavery had been forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of In 1838 Emerson and Scott returned to Missouri. In 1846 Scott won a suit for his freedom against Emerson s widow in a Missouri court. Scott claimed that by having lived in free territory, he had earned his freedom. This ruling was overturned, however, by Missouri s Supreme Court. Aided by various antislavery interests, Scott then started a new suit in a federal district court against Mrs. Emerson s brother, John Sandford of New York, who had been acting as his sister s agent. Since the case was a dispute between people who live in two different states, it could be heard in a federal court. When the federal court ruled that Scott was still a slave, he appealed to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional Issues The Constitution left questions such as the legal rights of slaves for later lawmakers to solve. In 1850 Congress passed the Fugitive Slave Law, which stated that a slave was property and which required escaped slaves to be returned to their holders. Opponents of the law unsuccessfully challenged its legality before the Supreme Court. The first major issue was whether Dred Scott an African American qualified as a citizen of the United States and was, therefore, entitled to sue in a federal court. The second issue concerned whether Scott had gained his freedom by moving to a free territory or state. The third issue focused on the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which banned slavery north of the southern boundary of Missouri (except for Missouri itself). Scott had lived in the non-slavery region. Did Congress have the power to prohibit slavery in the territories and to make the prohibition a condition of admission to the Union? The Supreme Court s Decision The Court s decision was written by Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, although each justice wrote his own opinion, with only one justice concurring with Taney in every respect. Two justices dissented. Taney s first ruling was that former Africans, whether emancipated or not, did not qualify as United States citizens. Taney held that only those who were state citizens when the Union was formed became federal citizens. Even though a state may emancipate a slave, give him the right to vote, and admit him to state citizenship, Taney said, none of these actions gave a slave automatic federal citizenship. The right to grant federal citizenship belonged exclusively to Congress. Taney concluded that Scott was not, and never had become, a citizen of the United States, and was not, therefore, entitled to sue in a federal court. (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 11

18 Supreme Court Case Study 6 (continued) Taney next examined the question of whether Scott had gained his freedom when he entered the Upper Louisiana Territory. The Chief Justice attacked the Missouri Compromise as an unconstitutional exercise of congressional authority. Congress cannot forbid a state or a territory from making slavery legal. Taney explained that as long as slavery is authorized by the Constitution, Congress cannot alter the right of a person to own slaves or any other kind of property. In viewing the Missouri Compromise as unconstitutional, the Court determined that Scott s status did not change when he entered free territory. The Court held that Scott had been a slave in Illinois and had returned to Missouri as a slave. On his return to Missouri, he became subject to Missouri law alone. Taney ordered the suit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Dissenting Opinion Justice Benjamin R. Curtis dissented. Curtis noted that free African Americans were among those who had voted to ratify the Constitution in a number of states. Nothing in the Constitution stripped these free African Americans of their citizenship. Curtis maintained that under the Constitution of the United States, every free person born on the soil of a State, who is a citizen of that State, who is a citizen of that State by force of its Constitution or laws, is also a citizen of the United States... The Court s decision is one example of judicial power being exercised in favor of racial segregation. It is also the first time that a major federal law was ruled unconstitutional. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. What was the relationship between the Missouri Compromise and the Court s decision in the Dred Scott case? 2. What effect do you think the Court s decision in the Dred Scott case had on the efforts of many Americans to end slavery? 3. If you were a plantation owner in the South who held many slaves, how would you have reacted to the Dred Scott decision? 4. What did the Court say about enslaved African Americans position in the United States? 5. Why is the Dred Scott decision regarded as one of the most important cases in the history of the Supreme Court? 12 Supreme Court Case Studies

19 Supreme Court Case Study 7 Rights of Citizens During Wartime Ex Parte Milligan, 1866 Background of the Case In 1864 during the Civil War, Lambdin P. Milligan, a civilian resident of Indiana who was violently opposed to the war, was arrested by order of the commander of the military district of Indiana, General Hovey, for his part in a plot to free Confederate war prisoners and overthrow three state governments. He was tried in a military court even though state courts in Indiana were still functioning. The military court found Milligan guilty and sentenced him to death. This sentence was approved by President Andrew Johnson. Nine days before he was to be hanged, Milligan petitioned the United States Circuit Court for a writ of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is an order requiring that a prisoner be brought before a court at a stated time and place to decide on the legality of his or her detention. Milligan claimed that the proceedings of his conviction were unconstitutional and that he was denied the right of a trial by jury. As a citizen of Indiana who was not in the military, Milligan claimed he should not have been tried by a military court. He appealed his case to the United States Supreme Court. Constitutional Issues The Constitution gives Congress the power to declare war and raise armies to fight the war. In order to carry on a war, the federal government often assumes powers that would be illegal in times of peace. As Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes stated in 1934, the war power of the Federal government... is a power to wage war successfully. When the power assumed by the government in time of war is challenged, the Supreme Court most often does not declare the acts unconstitutional. During the Civil War, for example, President Abraham Lincoln took many actions that would have been unconstitutional in peacetime. Article I, Section 9, paragraph 2, of the Constitution provides that the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it. The questions at issue in Ex Parte Milligan were whether Congress had the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and whether civilians may become subject to military law. The Supreme Court s Decision For the first time, the Court faced a decision involving the right of the president to suspend the writ of habeas corpus and to substitute the authority of a military court for that of a civilian court. Justice David Davis, writing for a 5 to 4 majority, declared the military had exceeded its power in trying and sentencing Milligan. He wrote, No graver question was ever considered by this Court, nor one which more nearly concerns the rights of the whole people; for it is the birthright of every American citizen when charged with a crime to be punished according to law... Davis declared that Congress had not granted to the nation s military courts the power to try civilians, and indeed could not do so, especially so long as civilian courts were still operating. One of the plainest constitutional privileges was, therefore, infringed when Milligan (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 13

20 Supreme Court Case Study 7 (continued) was tried by a court not ordained and established by Congress...Such action, the Court ruled, destroys every guarantee of the Constitution, and effectively renders the military independent of and superior to the civil power. Davis agreed that in a great crisis... there should be a power somewhere of suspending the writ of habeas corpus. However, in this case, such power was to be exercised by the judiciary. Davis declared that the writ itself may not be suspended, but rather the privilege the writ would grant. A court must decide whether the privilege is to be denied in a particular instance. Davis recognized that there may be circumstances in which the courts might be closed and civil authority overthrown, thus making government by martial law necessary. Even then, military rule would be strictly limited to the place where the crisis occurred and last only for the duration of that crisis. Military rule cannot be imposed while civil authority still operates. With respect to martial law in this case, Davis wrote, It is difficult to see how the safety of the country required martial law in Indiana. If any of the citizens were plotting treason, the power of [civil] arrest could secure them, until the government was prepared for their trial, when the courts were open and ready to try them. It was as easy to protect witnesses before a civil as well as a military tribunal; and as there could be no wish to convict, except on sufficient legal evidence, surely an ordained and established court were better able to judge of this than a military tribunal composed of gentlemen not trained to the profession of the law. Milligan s death sentence had been commuted to life imprisonment by President Johnson in June After being released as a result of the Supreme Court decision, Milligan sued General Hovey for unlawful imprisonment and won, but the damages awarded him were nominal. Dissenting Opinion Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, writing for the four members of the Court who dissented, held that Congress could extend military authority in Indiana under its war powers without diminishing Bill of Rights protections. It was up to Congress, not the courts, to make this decision. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. What position did the Supreme Court take concerning the use of military or martial law? 2. If General Hovey s decision to try Milligan in a military court was so clearly unconstitutional, why do you think he did not bring Milligan before a civil court? 3. Describe a situation in which military rule would take precedence over civilian authority according to the Court s ruling. 4. Four Justices of the Supreme Court disagreed with the majority s decision in the Milligan case. Under their thinking, who was responsible for deciding whether military courts could try civilians? 5. Why do you think the privilege of writ of habeas corpus is an important part of the Constitution? 14 Supreme Court Case Studies

21 Supreme Court Case Study 8 The Bill of Rights and State Rights Slaughterhouse Cases, 1873 Background of the Case In 1869 the Louisiana government granted the Crescent City Stock Landing and Slaughterhouse Company a monopoly on licensed butchering in New Orleans on the grounds that the action protected public health. Local butchers, who were excluded from the monopoly, opposed it with legal action in the state courts. Losing there, they appealed to the federal courts and then to the United States Supreme Court. The butchers argued that they had been deprived of their livelihoods by the state s deliberate discrimination against them. Therefore, the law violated the Thirteenth Amendment s ban on involuntary servitude, as well as the 1866 Civil Rights Act, which had been passed to enforce that ban. In addition, they argued, the state law violated the Fourteenth Amendment s guarantees of equal protection under the law and of due process. The state responded by claiming that no federal constitutional question was involved since both the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments were irrelevant to the case. If, in fact, the Court did apply these amendments to the case, the federal system would be revolutionized by exempting individuals claims from state regulation. Constitutional Issue Before the Civil War, individuals who believed they had been deprived of their rights and liberties had only their state constitution to rely on for protection. According to an 1833 Supreme Court decision, the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution applied only to the national government. In 1868, however, the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the United States Constitution. Although the amendment was intended to protect formerly enslaved people, who had been given their freedom by the Thirteenth Amendment, the Fourteenth Amendment contained a sentence that could be interpreted as applying to all persons in the United States: No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. If the Supreme Court interpreted this sentence as applying to all persons, then the way was open to conveying to the national government the enforcement of rights that earlier had been limited to the states and denied to the national government. The Slaughterhouse cases were the first involving the Fourteenth Amendment to be heard by the Court. The constitutional issues in the Slaughterhouse cases concerned the extent to which the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments applied to all Americans, not only to formerly enslaved people. (continued) Supreme Court Case Studies 15

22 Supreme Court Case Study 8 (continued) The Supreme Court s Decision A majority of the Court held that the monopoly on butchering granted by Louisiana did not violate the rights of the other butchers. Justice Samuel F. Miller, writing the Court s opinion, dismissed the butchers claim that the state law violated their rights under the Thirteenth Amendment. The monopoly created by the state law, he held, could not be interpreted as imposing servitude. Miller now turned to the Fourteenth Amendment. This amendment, he wrote, declares that persons may be citizens of the United States without regard to their citizenship of a particular state, and it overturns the Dred Scott decision by making all persons born within the United States and subject to its jurisdiction citizens of the United States. That its main purpose was to establish the citizenship of the negro can admit of no doubt. Justice Miller assigned to the states, rather than the federal government, the protection of basic civil liberties. This meant that everyone, not just formerly enslaved people, who had assumed the federal government was their guardian of democracy, had to look to the states to protect their rights. The Court agreed that there were certain federal privileges and immunities, such as the right to petition for redress of grievances, which states were bound to respect, but otherwise, the Court concluded, a state determined the privileges and immunities of its citizens. Dissenting Opinion Four justices dissented from the Court s decision. Justice Joseph P. Bradley emphasized both the Privileges and Immunities Clause and the Due Process Clause. He insisted that both clauses protected an individual s right to choose a vocation or business. In denying that right or subordinating it to police powers, the states abridged the privileges and immunities of citizens, thus depriving the affected persons of both liberty and property, violating the Due Process Clause. Also dissenting, Justice Stephen J. Field argued that the Thirteenth Amendment ban on involuntary servitude had been violated by creating the butchering monopoly. As for the Fourteenth Amendment, it embraced all the fundamental rights belonging to free men. The amendment, he wrote, does not attempt to confer any new privileges or immunities upon citizens or to enumerate or define those already existing. It assumes that there are such privileges and immunities which belong of right to citizens as such, and ordains that they shall not be abridged by state legislation. DIRECTIONS: Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. 1. How did the Court limit the protections of the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments? 2. What effect did the Court s ruling in the Slaughterhouse cases have on the Dred Scott decision? 3. Suppose you had been a butcher in New Orleans. How would the Court s decision have affected you? 4. Who gained from the Court s decision, state governments or the federal government? Explain. 5. With whose opinions do you agree, those of the Court or the dissenting justices? Explain. 16 Supreme Court Case Studies

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