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The Most Influential Legal Cases of the Last Century

THE MOST INFLUENTIAL LEGAL CASES OF THE LAST CENTURY The U.S. has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. Our justice system and body of laws are some of the most influential factors to how we function as a society. They determine how we buy and sell, how we settle disagreements, and they used to determine where we went to school and where we sat on the bus. THE CASES The most influential cases that were appealed to, and decided by, the Supreme Court of the United States. Brown Board of Education of Topeka 1954 Main Issue Background Decision Because of Topeka's segregated school system 3rd grader Linda Brown was forced to travel one mile to her all black school instead of attending an all white school that was only a few blocks from her home. In total, 13 plaintiffs banded together and with the help of the NAACP brought their case to the Supreme Court. Separate education facilities are inherently unequal, and this decision helped to spur on the Civil Rights movement and desegregate America. Segregation Majority: 9 Dissent: 0 Earl Warren Hugo Black Stanley F. Reed Felix Frankfurter William O. Douglas Robert H. Jackson Harold H. Burton Tom C. Clark Sherman Minton Roe v. Wade 1973 Main Issue Background Decision In 1969, Norma L. McCorvey, alias Abortion is a right granted by the constitutional right to privacy until the fetus becomes viable. Abortion Abortion Jane Roe for use in court, attempted to obtain an abortion through legal means in Texas, but was denied because abortions were only available in cases of rape or incest. McCorvey sued claiming that the abortion laws violated her right to privacy.2 becomes legal in the U.S. Majority: 7 Dissent: 2 Warren E. Burger William O. Douglas Byron White William Rhenquist William J. Brennan Jr. Potter Stewart Thurgood Marshall Harry Blackmun Lewis F. Powell Jr. New York Times Co. v Sullivan 1964 Main Issue Background Decision A public official must prove the story was written in actual malice. News papers were given a great deal of protection against libel lawsuits. During the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s, many government figures in the south sued newspapers that wrote negative stories about them. This scared newspapers away from reporting the true nature of what was going on. When the New York Times ran one such story and was sued, they took their case to the Supreme Court.1 Freedom of the Press Majority: 9 Dissent: 0 Earl Warren Hugo Black John M. Harlan I| William J. Brennan Jr. William O. Douglas Potter Stewart Byron White Tom C. Clark Arthur Goldberg Gideon v. Wainwright 1963 Main Issue Background Decision In 1961, Clarence Earl Gideon was accused of robbing a Florida poll hall in the middle of the night. Gideon requested an attorney to Under the 6th Amendment, all defendants have the right to counsel and state courts are required to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who cannot afford their own attorneys. Criminal Procedure defend him but was denied and Majority: 9 Dissent: 0 was also found guilty of robbery. From jail, Gideon wrote to the Supreme Court and was granted a hearing. 2 Farl Warren Hugo Black John M. Harlan I| William J. Brennan Jr. William O. Douglas Potter Stewart Byron White Tom C. Clark Arthur Goldberg Miranda v. Arizona 1966 Main Issue Background Decision Ernesto Arturo Miranda was Miranda was unjustly tried. Police must now make anyone arrested for a crime aware of their rights relating to interrogation. Criminal Procedure arrested for allegedly kidnapping and raping a woman in Phoenix, Arizona. Miranda was interrogated by police and eventually signed a written confession without ever being made aware of his right to an attorney or the right to remain silent. Miranda's court appointed attorney appealed his case after initially being found guilty. 2 Majority: 5 Dissent: 4 Earl Warren John M. Harlan II Hugo Black William J. Brennan Jr. Byron White William O. Douglas Potter Stewart Tom C. Clark Abe Fortas Schenck v. United States 1919 Main Issue Background Decision The defendant's actions caused a clear and present danger. Subsequently, free speech rights in times of war were weakened. The "clear and present danger" Charles Schenck printed and Freedom of the Press distributed anti-draft leaflets to test set forth under this case has since been potential WWI draftees. He was arrested and convicted for diminished by more recent first amendment rulings, such as in Brandenburg v. Ohio described below. violating the Espionage Act of 1917. 3 Majority: 9 Dissent: 0 Edward D. White Joseph McKenna Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. William R. Day Willis Van Devanter Mahlon Pitney James McReynolds Louis Brandeis John H. Clarke Brandenburgv. Ohio 1969 Main Issue Background Decision Clarence Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan leader from Ohio, was Brandenburg's speech was protected. Speech must now Freedom of Speech arrested and convicted of incite imminent lawless action to be considered illegal. advocating criminal syndicalism after giving a speech at a KKK rally. During his speech he made vague references to revenge against minorities and expressed dissatisfaction with the president Majority: 8 Dissent: 0 Earl Warren Hugo Black William J. Brennan Jr. William O. Douglas John M. Harlan II and congress. 3 Potter Stewart Byron White Tom C. Clark Near v. Minnesota 1931 Main Issue Background Decision In 1927 Jay M. Near began publishing a newspaper that described the local government of Minneapolis as corrupt and controlled by gangs through bribes. Near was arrested and The defendant's rights were violated. Courts could not issue injunctions preventing the publication of dissenting newspapers. Freedom of the Press Majority: 5 Dissent: 4 Willis Van Devanter James McReynolds George Sutherland Pierce Butler Charles E. Hughes convicted of creating a public nuisance. The court also issued an Oliver W. Holmes, Jr. Louis Brandeis injunction banning Near from Harlan F. Stone Owen J. Roberts printing any further publications. , 3 Tinker v. Independent School District 1969 Main Issue Background Decision The students could wear armbands. In 1965, 3 middle school students from Des Moines were suspended from school for wearing black armbands in protest of the Students are afforded certain First Freedom of Speech Amendment protections and any expression that does not substantially interfere with school discipline is allowed. Vietnam War. The students' Dissent: 2 Majority: 7 Earl Warren William J. Brennan Jr. John M. Harlan II William O. Douglas families, with the assistance of the Hugo Black lowa Civil Liberties Union, sued the state and eventually appealed to the Supreme Court. 3 Potter Stewart Byron White Tom C. Clark Abe Fortas New York Times Co. v. United States 1971 Main Issue Background Decision In 1969, government contractor Daniel Ellsberg leaked a secret government study on the Vietnam War to the New York Times. After Learning of the leak the Nixon administration The Times was free to publish the material. The President could not Freedom of the Press prevent embarrassing material from being published. Majority: 6 Dissent: 3 Hugo Black Warren E. Burger attempted to block the Times from publishing any of the material they had received. The Times refused and the case William J. Brennan Jr. John M. Harlan II William O. Douglas Harry Blackmun Potter Stewart Byron White Thurgood Marshall proceeded to the Supreme Court. 3 THE JUSTICES The men who had a hand in deciding the greatest number of influential cases. Majority Dissent William O. Douglas William J. Brennan Jr. Hugo Black Potter Stewart Byron White Earl Warren Tom C. Clark John M. Harlan II THE PLACES The places these influential cases were first tried before being appealed to the Supreme Court. Near v. MN ★ Minneapolis Times v. U.S. NYC Tinker v. Independent * Des Moines -Schenck v. U.S. Philadelphia Brandenburg v. Ohio Cincinnati Brown v. Board * Topeka Miranda v. AZ Phoenix Times v. Sullivan * Montgomery Roe v. Wade * Dallas Gideon v. Wainwright Panama City Sources: 1 infoplease.com/ipa/A0101289.html 2 ranker.com/list/the-most-important-supreme-court-cases/michael-gibson 3 ala.org/ala/aboutala/offices/oif/firstamendment/courtcases/Courtcases.cfm

The Most Influential Legal Cases of the Last Century

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The US legal system has changed dramatically over the past 100 years. These legal cases are some of the most influential cases that have impacted and shaped our legal system.

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