Study your flashcards anywhere!

Download the official Cram app for free >

  • Shuffle
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Alphabetize
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Front First
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Both Sides
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off
  • Read
    Toggle On
    Toggle Off

How to study your flashcards.

Right/Left arrow keys: Navigate between flashcards.right arrow keyleft arrow key

Up/Down arrow keys: Flip the card between the front and back.down keyup key

H key: Show hint (3rd side).h key

A key: Read text to speech.a key


Play button


Play button




Click to flip

62 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
clear and present danger test
Following Schenck v. United States, "clear and present danger" became a standard test in cases where a United States law limits free speech; the law is deemed to be constitutional if it can be shown that the language it prohibits is language that poses a "clear and present danger."
strict scrutiny
In order for a statute to survive, the government must demonstrate a compelling interest in the restriction of political rights and demonstrate that the interest can be achieved in no other way.
Smith Act (1940)
Section 1 of the act made it a felony to advocate the violent overthrow of the government of the US or to conspire to organize a group advocating such violence.
viewpoint-based restrictions
establishes the idea that the 1st amendment bars partically any conviction based on soemone's point of view.
symbolic speech
refers to expressive activity or action designed to communicate a message. It refers to protesting government policy in a manner that goes beyond conventional speech as a way to dramatize a cause and attract media attention.
expressive association
a group such as race or gender that advocates specific policies or views.
prior restraint
a legal action that blocks further publication. This is regarded as the most onerous kind of abridgement of press freedom.
a written defamation of a person's reputation.
establishment clause
This has been interpreted as the prohibition of 1) the establishment of a national religion by Congress and later, by a Supreme Court Judge, 2) the preference of one religion over another or of religion over non-religious philosophies in general.
free exercise clause
The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment has often been interpreted to include two freedoms: the freedom to believe, and the freedom to act. The former liberty is absolute, while the latter often faces state restriction.
stresses freedom of religion. Alongside protection for religious practice, it seeks government acknowledgement of, and sometimes support for, religion.
freedom from religion. It seeks greater distance between religion and government in a nation that is not only one of the most religious but also one of the most religiously diverse countries.
lemon test
this test consists of three elements. To pass scrutiny, (a) a policy must have a "secular purpose
(b) its primary effect must be "neutral" (that is, neither advancing nor hindering religion)
(c) it must not promote an "excessive entanglement" between government and religion.
child-benefit theory
somteimes employed in cases involving state aid to religious schools, this approach focuses on the primary beneficiaries of the challenged plan - the children, rather than the schools themselves - where the aid is a result of decisions made by families about where their children should enroll, and not a result of government decisions to aid religious schools directly.
faith-based exemption
an exemption from a law given to a specific religious group because it may forbid believers from doing what their raith requires or it might require them to do something their faith forbids.
religious freedom restoration act
aimed at preventing laws which substantially burdened a person's free exercise of their religion. The law reinstated the Sherbert Test, mandating that strict scrutiny be used when determining if the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, guaranteeing religious freedom, has been violated. In this, the court must first determine whether the person has a claim involving a sincere religious belief, and whether the government action is a substantial burden on the person’s ability to act on that belief; if these two elements are established, then the government must prove that it is acting in furtherance of a compelling state interest, and that it has pursued that interest in the manner least restrictive, or least burdensome, to religion.
religious liberty
a guarantee by a government for freedom of belief for individuals and freedom of worship for individuals and groups.
is the partial shadow surrounding a complete shadow in an ecplise.
undue burden
is an equitable doctrine that involves one person taking advantage of a position of power over another person. In terms of abortion rights certain regulations have taken power over the woman's right to choose.
equal protection clause
applies when states make distinctions among similarly situated people and treat them differently. The Equal Protection Clause can be seen as an attempt to secure the promise of the United States' professed commitment to the proposition that "all men are created equal" by empowering the judicary to enforce that principle against the states.
rational basis test
a test in which the justices ask only whether the classification in question has a rational (or reasonable) relation to a legitimate state interest.
strict scrutiny test
is employed for classifications such as race that the Court deems "suspect," or for classifications that impinge on rights the Court considers fundamental.
intermediate scrutiny
the question is whether the challenged statute is substantially related to an important state interest.
separate but equal
is a phrase used to describe a system of segregation, where people of different ethnic backgrounds have the same qualitative and quantitative rights to services and facilities, but receive them apart from each other.
de jure segregation
separation of the races as a result of law and public policy
de facto segregation
racial separation that was a product of nongovernmental actions and practices
fundamental rights anaylsis
can be used to shield particular rights. Fundamental rights refers to the idea that there are certain rights that are to be fundamental in human existance or under the constition (ex. right to travel) and thus are to be protected in the SC.
affirmative action
policies designed to help minorities. Is a policy or a program whose stated goal is to redress past or present discrimination through active measures to ensure equal opportunity, for example in education, employment or seats in parliament.
Schenck v. United States
Facts: Charles Schenck and others were convicted of conspiracy to obstruct the draft and other violations of the Espionage Act of 1917. Their specific offense was printing and distributing leaflets that opposed the war effort generally and conscription specifically.
Question: are Schenck's actions protected by the free speech clause of the 1st?
Decision: No. The character of every act depends on the circumstances. "The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent." During wartime, utterances tolerable in peacetime can be punished.
Dennis v. United States
Facts:This case represents the last stage of the 1949 trial of the 11 leaders of the Communist Party of the US for violations of the Smith Act of 1940. The case was limited to a review of whether sections 2 or 3 of the Smith act, inherently or as construed and applied, violated the 1st or 5th?
Question: Did the Smith Act's restricitions on speech violate the 1st?
Decision: No. the Smith Act did not "inherently" violate the First Amendment. In the plurality opinion, the Court held that there was a distinction between the mere teaching of communist philosophies and active advocacy of those ideas. Such advocacy created a "clear and present danger" that threatened the government. the Court held that success or probability of success was not necessary to justify restrictions on the freedom of speech.
Good News Club v. Milford Central School
Facts: Under NY law, Milford Central School enacted a policy authorizing district residents to use its building after school for, among other things, (1) instruction in education, learning, or the arts, and (2) social, civic, recreational, and entertainment uses pertaining to the community welfare. The Good News Club (Christian organization) asked school officials for permission to hold the Club's weekly after-school meetings in the school. They denied the request on the ground that the proposed use of the school was the equivalent of religious worship prohibited by the commuity use policy.
Question: Did the school violate the free speech rights of the 1st by denying to meet at the school?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that "Milford's restriction violates the Club's free speech rights and that no Establishment Clause concern justifies that violation." "When Milford denied the Good News Club access to the school's limited public forum on the ground that the Club was religious in nature, it discriminated against the Club because of its religious viewpoint in violation of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment."
United States v. O'Brien
As a protest against the war in Vietnam, David O'Brien and 3 companions burned their draft cards. FBI agents arrested O'Brien for violating the 1965 amendment to the Universal Military Training and Service Act of 1948, which provided criminal penalties for anyone who "knowingly destorys or knowingly mutilates" a draft cart.
Question: was the UMTSA an unconstitutional infringement of O'Brien's freedom of speech (1st)?
Decision: No. The Court established a test to determine whether governmental regulation involving symbolic speech was justified. The formula examines whether the regulation is unrelated to content and narrowly tailored to achieve the government's interest. "[W]e think it clear," wrote Warren," that a government regulation is sufficiently justified if it is within the constitutional power of the Government; if it furthers an important or substantial governmental interest; if the governmental interest is unrelated to the suppression of free expression; and if the incidential restriction on alleged First Amendment freedoms is not greater than is essential to the furtherance of that interest."
Texas v. Johnson
Facts: Under Texas law, "A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly descrates: (1) a public monument; (2) a place of worship or burial; or (3) a state or national flag." Gregory Lee Johnson was convicted for violating this statute after an American flag was burned at a demonstration in Dallas during the time of the Republican National Convention.
Question: Did the texas law, by not allowing the desecration of an american flag, violate the free speech of the 1st?
Decision: Yes. The Court found that Johnson's actions fell into the category of expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature. The fact that an audience takes offense to certain ideas or expression, the Court found, does not justify prohibitions of speech.
Virginia v. Black
Facts: With permission of the owner, Barry Black organized a KKK rally in a field in Virginia. There they burned a cross. Later Richard Elliott and Jonathat O'Mara attempted to burn a cross in the yard of James Jubilee, an African-American. In separate proceedings the 3 men were convicted of violating Virginia's cross-burning statute.
Question: Does the Virginia cross-burning statute, which probhits the burning of a cross with the intent of intimidating any person, violate the 1st?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that while a State, consistent with the First Amendment, may ban cross burning carried out with the intent to intimidate, the provision in the Virginia statute treating any cross burning as prima facie evidence of intent to intimidate renders the statute unconstitutional in its current form.
Boy Scouts of America and Monmouth Council v. Dale
Facts: James Dale became a Boy Scout. He applied for adult membership in the Boy Scouts and was named assistant scoutmaster. At the smae time he entered Rutgers University, where he first acknowledged publicly that he was gay and he became active in the Lesbian/Gay alliance. Shortly, Monmouth Executive council of Boy Scouts revoked Dale's adult membership on the grounds that the organization "specifically forbid membership to homosexuals."
Question: Does the application of NJ's public accommodations law violate the 1st's right of expressive association to bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that "applying New Jersey's public accommodations law to require the Boy Scouts to admit Dale violates the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of expressive association." In effect, the ruling gives the Boy Scouts of America a constitutional right to bar homosexuals from serving as troop leaders. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the Court that, "[t]he Boy Scouts asserts that homosexual conduct is inconsistent with the values it seeks to instill," and that a gay troop leader's presence "would, at the very least, force the organization to send a message, both to the young members and the world, that the Boy Scouts accepts homosexual conduct as a legitimate form of behavior."
NY Times v. Sullivan
Facts: Sullivan, an elected city commissioner, brought an action for libel in the circuit court of montgomery county against the NY Times. At issue was a paid advertisement that the Times had publicshed which described maltreatment in Montgomery of black students protesting racial segregation. Under Alabama law, Sullivan did not have to prove that he had been harmed; and a defense claiming that the ad was truthful was unavailable since the ad contained factual errors.
Question: Did Alabama's libel law, by not requiring Sullivan to prove that an advertisement personally harmed him and dismissing the same as untruthful due to factual errors, unconstitutionally infringe on the First Amendment's freedom of speech and freedom of press protections?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that the First Amendment protects the publication of all statements, even false ones, about the conduct of public officials except when statements are made with actual malice (with knowledge that they are false or in reckless disregard of their truth or falsity).
NY Times v. United States
Facts: 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. This case was decided together with United States v. Washington Post Co.
Question: Did the Nixon administration's efforts to prevent the publication of what it termed "classified information" violate the First Amendment?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that the government did not overcome the "heavy presumption against" prior restraint of the press in this case. Justices Black and Douglas argued that the vague word "security" should not be used "to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment." Justice Brennan reasoned that since publication would not cause an inevitable, direct, and immediate event imperiling the safety of American forces, prior restraint was unjustified.
Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition
Facts: The Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 expanded the federal prohibition on child pornography to include not only pornographic images made using actual children, but also "any visual depiction, including any photography, film, vido, picture, or computer or computer-generated image or picture" that "is or appears to be, of a minor engaging in sexually explicit conduct. Fearing that the CPPA threatened their activities, an adult-entertainment rade association and others organized as the Free Speech Coalition filed suit alleging that the "appears to be" and "conveys the impression" provisions were overbroad and vague, chilling production of works protected by the 5th.
Question: Does the Child Pornography Prevention Act of 1996 abridge freedom of speech where it where it proscribes a significant universe of speech that is neither obscene nor child pornography?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that the two prohibitions described above are overbroad and unconstitutional. The Court found the CPPA to be inconsistent with Miller insofar as the CPPA cannot be read to prohibit obscenity, because it lacks the required link between its prohibitions and the affront to community standards prohibited by the obscenity definition.
Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union
Facts: In the Communications Decency Act of 1996, Congress sought to protect minors from harmful material on the Internet. One section criminalized the "knowing" transmission of "obscene or indecent" messages to any recipient under 18 years of age. One section prohibited the "knowing" sending or displaying to a person under 18 any message "that, in context, depicts or describes, in terms patently offensive as measured by contemporary community standards, sexual or exretory activities or organs.
Question: Did certain provisions of the 1996 Communications Decency Act violate the First and Fifth Amendments by being overly broad and vague in their definitions of the types of internet communications which they criminalized?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that the Act violated the First Amendment because its regulations amounted to a content-based blanket restriction of free speech. The Act failed to clearly define "indecent" communications, limit its restrictions to particular times or individuals (by showing that it would not impact on adults), provide supportive statements from an authority on the unique nature of internet communications, or conclusively demonstrate that the transmission of "offensive" material is devoid of any social value. The Court added that since the First Amendment distinguishes between "indecent" and "obscene" sexual expressions, protecting only the former, the Act could be saved from facial overbreadth challenges if it dropped the words "or indecent" from its text.
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe
Facts: Prior to 1995, a student elected as the student council chaplain at santa Fe High School in Texas delivered a prayer over the public address system before each home varsity football game. 2 families filed suit challenging this practice under the establishment clause of the 1st.
Question: Does the Santa Fe policy of allowing student-led, sutdent intiated prayer at football games violate the estbalishment clause of the 1st?
Decision: Yes. The Court concluded that the football game prayers were public speech authorized by a government policy and taking place on government property at government-sponsored school-related events and that the District's policy involved both perceived and actual government endorsement of the delivery of prayer at important school events.
Lemon v. Kurtzman
Facts: This case dealt with the constitutionality of direct state financial support for sectarain schools. Pennsylvania's Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1968 allowed the state to reimburse private schools directly for costs of teachers' salaries, textbooks, and instructional materials in specified secular subjects.
Question: Did the Rhode Island and Pennsylvania statutes violate the 1st amendment establishment clause by making state financial aid availbale to "church-related educational insitutions?"
Decision: Yes. Chief Justice Burger articulated a three-part test for laws dealing with religious establishment. To be constitutional, a statute must have "a secular legislative purpose," it must have principal effects which neither advance nor inhibit religion, and it must not foster "an excessive government entanglement with religion." The Court found that the subsidization of parochial schools furthered a process of religious inculcation, and that the "continuing state surveillance" necessary to enforce the specific provisions of the laws would inevitably entangle the state in religious affairs.
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris
Facts: Ohio's Pilot Project Scholarship Program provides tuition aid for certain students in the Cleveland City School District, the only qualifying district at the time of this ligiation, to attend participating public or private schools of their parent's choosing and tutorial aid for students who choose to remain enrolled in public school. Both religious and nonreligious schools in the district may participate. Tuition aid is distributed to parents according to financial need, and where the aid is spent depends solely upon where parents choose to enroll their children.
Question: Does Ohio's school voucher program violate the establishment clause?
Decision: No. The Court reasoned that, because Ohio's program is part of Ohio's general undertaking to provide educational opportunities to children, government aid reaches religious institutions only by way of the deliberate choices of numerous individual recipients and the incidental advancement of a religious mission, or any perceived endorsement, is reasonably attributable to the individual aid recipients not the government.
Minersville School District v. Gobitis
Facts: Could schoolchildren, members of the sect known as Jehovah's Witnesses, be required to salute the flag, a practice forbidden by their religious tenets?
Question: Did the mandatory Flag statute infringe upon liberties given by the 1st and 4th?
Decision: No. The Court held that the state's interest in "national cohesion" was "inferior to none in the hierarchy of legal values" and that national unity was "the basis of national security." The flag, the Court found, was an important symbol of national unity and could be a part of legislative initiatives designed "to promote in the minds of children who attend the common schools an attachment to the institutions of their country."
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette
Facts: The West Virginia Board of Education required that the flag salute be part of the program of activities in all public schools. All teachers and pupils were required to honor the Flag; refusal to salute was treated as "insubordination" and was punishable by expulsion and charges of delinquency.
Questions: Did the compulsory flag-salute for public schoolchildren violate the First Amendment?
Decision: Yes. The Court found that such a salute was a form of utterance and was a means of communicating ideas. "Compulsory unification of opinion," the Court held, was doomed to failure and was antithetical to First Amendment values.
Sherbert v. Verner
Facts: Adell Sherbert was a member of a 7th day adventist church who lost her job in South Carolina because she would not work on Saturday, the Sabbath of her religion. She filed a claim for unemployment compensation under South Carolina law. Her claim was denied because she failed to accept "suitable work when the employment office or the employer."
Question: Did the denial of unemployment compensation violate the 1st and 4th?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that the state's eligibility restrictions for unemployment compensation imposed a significant burden on Sherbert's ability to freely exercise her faith. Furthermore, there was no compelling state interest which justified such a substantial burden on this basic First Amendment right.
Employment Division v. Smith
Facts: In its controlled substance law, Oregon prohibits the knowing possession of a variety of drugs, including peyote. Alfred Smith and Galen Black were fired from their jobs with a private drug rehabilitation clinic because they ingested peyote as part of a ritual of the Native American Church. When they applied for unemployment compensation, the Employment Division of Oregon's Department of Human Resources ruled them ineligible because they had been dismissed for work-related misconduct.
Question: Does the state law violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment?
Decision: No. the Court has never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that government is free to regulate. Allowing exceptions to every state law or regulation affecting religion "would open the prospect of constitutionally required exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind."
Griswold v. Connecticut
Facts: A Connecticut statute of 1879 made the use of contraceptives a criminal offense. Estelle Griswold, executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, was convicted on a charge of having violated the statute as an accessory by giving information, instruction, and advice to married persons as a means of preventing conception.
Question: Does the constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on use and counseling of contraceptives?
Decision: Yes. Though the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. Together, the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, create a new constitutional right, the right to privacy in marital relations.
Roe v. Wade
Facts: In 1970, Norma McCorvey of Dallas, Texas, wished to terminate her pregnancy. Because Texas law prohibited abortions except those performed by a physician for the purpose of saving the life of the woman, she filed suit against Henry Wade, DA of Dallas, claiming that the Texas law was unconstitutional and seeking an injunction against its enforcement.
Question: Does the constitution protect a woman's right to abortion?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that a woman's right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut) protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision gave a woman total autonomy over the pregnancy during the first trimester and defined different levels of state interest for the second and third trimesters.
Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey
Facts: Amendments in 1988 and 1989 to Pennsylvania Abortion Control Act mandated "informed consent" counseling, a 24hr waiting period, consent of one parent for minors, and spousal consent; furthermore, the act defined a "medical emergency" that would excuse compliance with these requirements, and imposed certain reporting requirements on facilities providing abortions.
Question: Does the Pennsylvania legislation violate the right to abortions guaranteed by roe v. wade under the 14th?
Decision: Yes. the Court again reaffirmed Roe, but it upheld most of the Pennsylvania provisions. For the first time, the justices imposed a new standard to determine the validity of laws restricting abortions. The new standard asks whether a state abortion regulation has the purpose or effect of imposing an "undue burden," which is defined as a "substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability." Under this standard, the only provision to fail the undue-burden test was the husband notification requirement.
Stenberg v. Carhart
Facts: Don Stenberg was Attorney General of Nebraska; Leroy Carhart was a physician who performed abortions at a clinic in Nebraska. Nebraska law made "partial-birth" abortion illegal; unless necessary to save the mother.
Question: Does the Nebrasaka law violate right to abortion under roe and the 14th?
Decision: Yes. The sharply divided Court struck down the statute because it placed an undue burden on a woman's right to have an abortion and did not allow for exception in cases of threatened health. "All those who perform abortion procedures using that method must fear prosecution, conviction, and imprisonment," that results in "an undue burden upon a woman's right to make an abortion decision."
Romer v. Evans
Facts: Colorado voters adopted Amendment 2 to their State Constitution precluding any judicial, legislative, or executive action designed to protect persons from discrimination based on their "homosexual, lesbian, or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships." Following a legal challenge by homosexual and other aggrieved parties, the state trial court entered a permanent injunction enjoining Amendment 2's enforcement.
Question: Does the amendment, forbidding protections to those who suffer discrimination due to secual orientation, violate equal protection of the 14th?
Decision: Yes. Amendment 2 singled out homosexual and bisexual persons, imposing on them a broad disability by denying them the right to seek and receive specific legal protection from discrimination. In his opinion for the Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy noted that oftentimes a law will be sustained under the equal protection clause, even if it seems to disadvantage a specific group, so long as it can be shown to "advance a legitimate government interest." Amendment 2, by depriving persons of equal protection under the law due to their sexual orientation failed to advance such a legitimate interest.
Washington v. Glucksberg
Facts: The state of Washington makes "promoting a suicide attempt" a felony. "A person is guilty of [that crime] when he knowlingly causes or aids another person to attempt suicide." Harold Glucksberg, other physicians, Compassion in Dying, and 3 ill patients brought suit claiming that the ban was unconstitutional.
Question: Does Washington's prohibition against aiding a suicide violate the 14th?
Decision: No. Analyzing the guarantees of the Due Process Clause, the Court focused on two primary aspects: the protection of our nation's objective fundamental, historically rooted, rights and liberties; and the cautious definition of what constitutes a due process liberty interest. The Court held that the right to assisted suicide is not a fundamental liberty interest protected by the Due Process Clause since its practice has been, and continues to be, offensive to our national traditions and practices. Moreover, employing a rationality test, the Court held that Washington's ban was rationally related to the state's legitimate interest in protecting medical ethics, shielding disabled and terminally ill people from prejudice which might encourage them to end their lives, and, above all, the preservation of human life.
Lawrence v. Texas
Facts: Because of a reported weapons disturbance, police in Houston, Texas, entered the apartment of John Lawrence where they observed Lawrence and Tyron garner, engaging in consensual anal intercourse. Both Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted under a Texas Law that criminalized "deviate sexual intercourse with another individual of the same sex."
Question: Does Texas law criminalizing "homosexual conduct," violate equal protection of the 14th?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that the Texas statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause. After explaining what it deemed the doubtful and overstated premises of Bowers, the Court reasoned that the case turned on whether Lawrence and Garner were free as adults to engage in the private conduct in the exercise of their liberty under the Due Process Clause. "Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government."
Plessy v. Ferguson
Facts: A Louisiana statute of 1890 required railroad companies carrying passengers within the state to provide "equal but separate" accommodations for white and "colored" persons, empowered train officials to enforce the law, and provided penalties for those who refused to obey segregation orders. Blacks in New Orleans promptly formed a committee to challenge the constitutionality of the separate car law through a test case. Homer A. Plessy bought an intrastate ticket for a ride between New Orleans and Covington. Plessy was arrested.
Question: Does Louisiana law mandating segregation violate the equal protection of the 14th?
Decision: No. upheld state-imposed racial segregation. The justices based their decision on the separate-but-equal doctrine, that separate facilities for blacks and whites satisfied the Fourteenth Amendment so long as they were equal. (The phrase, "separate but equal" was not part of the opinion.)
Brown v. Board of Education I
Facts: Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. The white and black schools approached equality in terms of buildings, curricula, qualifications, and teacher salaries.
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?
Decision: Yes. Despite the equalization of the schools by "objective" factors, intangible issues foster and maintain inequality. Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on minority children because it is interpreted as a sign of inferiority. The long-held doctrine that separate facilities were permissible provided they were equal was rejected. Separate but equal is inherently unequal in the context of public education.
Brown v. Board of Education II
Facts: After its decision in Brown I which declared racial discrimination in public education unconstitutional, the Court convened to issue the directives which would help to implement its newly announced Constitutional principle.
Question: What means should be used to implement the principles announced in Brown I?
Decision: The Court held that the problems identified in Brown I required varied local solutions. Chief Justice Warren conferred much responsibility on local school authorities and the courts which originally heard school segregation cases. They were to implement the principles which the Supreme Court embraced in its first Brown decision.
Milliken v. Bradley
Facts: This case began as a suit against the Detroit Board of Education seeking desegregation of the city's public schools. The district court ordered submission of desegregation plans for the city proper, as well as for the 3 county metropolitan area, even though the 53 suburban school districts were not parties to the action and there was no finding that they had committed any consitutional violations.
Question: Did the courts have authority to impose multi-district desegregation on schools outside the detroit area?
Decision: No. the district court's remedy was "wholly impermissible" and not justified by Brown v. Board of Education. The Court noted that desegregation, "in the sense of dismantling a dual school system," did not require "any particular racial balance in each 'school, grade or classroom.'" The Court also emphasized the importance of local control over the operation of schools.
Frontiero v. Richardson
Facts: A servicewoman's application for increased quarters allowances and medical and dental benefits for her husband was disallowed because she failed, as required by law, to demonstrate that her husband was dependent on her for more than 1/2 of his support. The servicewoman instituted action, contending that the statutes that allowed a serviceman to claim his wife as a dependent for such benefits, without regard to whether she was in fact dependent on him for any part of her support, were discriminatory on the basis of sex and in violation of the 5th due process clause.
Question: Did federal law, requiring different critera for male and femal spousal dependency, discriminate women and violate due process of the 5th?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that the statute in question clearly commanded "dissimilar treatment for men and women who are similarly situated," violating the Due Process Clause. Applying a strict standard of review to the sex-based classification, the Court found that the government's interest in administrative convenience could not justify discriminatory practices. The Court held that statutes that drew lines between the sexes on those grounds alone necessarily involved "the 'very kind of arbitrary legislative choice forbidden by the Constitution.'"
Craig v. Boren
Facts: 2 sections of an Oklahoma statute combined to prohibit the sale of 3.2% beer to males under the age of 21 and to females under the age of 18. Craig and Whitener sought injunctive relief against the statute. They contended that the gender-based differential constituted an invidious discriminatin against males, in violation of the equal protection clause.
Question: Did Oklahoma's statute violate the equal protection clause (14th) by establishing different drinking ages?
Decision: Yes. The Court held that the statistics relied on by the state of Oklahoma were insufficient to show a substantial relationship between the law and the maintenance of traffic safety. Generalities about the drinking habits of aggregate groups did not suffice.
San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriquez
Facts: Public elementary and secondary education in the US has been traditionally financed through taxes imposed by local school boards on property within the school district. Other funds come from the state and federal governments. In 1968, Demetrio Rodriquez and other parents living in Texas's Edgewood School District filed suit claiming that reliance on local property taxes for the support of public education violated the equal protection clause.
Question: Did Texas's public education finance system violate the equal protection of the 14th by failing to distribute funding equally among its school districts?
Decision: No. The Court refused to examine the system with strict scrutiny since there is no fundamental right to education in the Constitution and since the system did not systematically discriminate against all poor people in Texas. Given the similarities between Texas' system and those in other states, it was clear to the Court that the funding scheme was not "so irrational as to be invidiously discriminatory."
Grutter v. Bollinger
Facts: An admission policy approved in 1992 at the University of Michigan Law School had aspired to "achieve that diversity which has the potential to enrich everyone's education and thus make a law school class stronger than the sum of its parts." "Racial and ethnic diversity with special reference to the inclusion of students from groups which have been historically discriminated against...who without this commitment might not be represented in our student body in meaningful numbers." Barbara Grutter was an unsuccessful applicat for the law school. She filed suit claiming that the law school's use of race as a "redominant factor" in admissions, under which some minority applicants with weaker numberical credentials than hers were admitted, violated her rights under the 14th.
Question: Did the law school's use of racial preferences in student admissions violate equal protection of the 14th?
Decision: No. the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body. The Court reasoned that, because the Law School conducts highly individualized review of each applicant, no acceptance or rejection is based automatically on a variable such as race and that this process ensures that all factors that may contribute to diversity are meaningfully considered alongside race.
Gratz v. Bollinger
Facts: In 1995, Jennifer Gratz applied to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts with an adjusted GPA of 3.8 and ACT score of 25. In 1997, Patrick Hamacher applied to the University with an adjusted GPA of 3.0, and an ACT score of 28. Both were denied admission and attended other schools. The University admits that it uses race as a factor in making admissions decisions because it serves a "compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body." In addition, the University has a policy to admit virtually all qualified applicants who are members of one of three select racial minority groups - African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans - that are considered to be "underrepresented" on the campus.
Question: Does the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Decision: Yes. the Court held that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI. While rejecting the argument that diversity cannot constitute a compelling state interest, the Court reasoned that the automatic distribution of 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single "underrepresented minority" applicant solely because of race was not narrowly tailored and did not provide the individualized consideration Justice Powell contemplated in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978).