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Important Cases Of The US Supreme Court

Essay, Research Paper Important Cases of the US Supreme Court The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the constitutional guarantees contained in amendments to the constitution. Among these Guaranteed rights are

Essay, Research Paper

Important Cases of the US Supreme Court

The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the constitutional guarantees

contained in amendments to the constitution. Among these Guaranteed rights are

the freedoms of religion, speech, and press, along with the right of protection

against illegal search and seizure, equal protection under the law, and the

right to counsel. These rights all contained in the first amendment to the

constitution are arguably the most important rights guaranteed to citizens of

the United States. However these rights are not absolute. Throughout the

course of time many controversies have occurred concerning the limitation of

rights. Many of these controversies have called upon the Supreme Court to

evaluate the constitutionality of laws or individual actions. Many cases in the

history of the supreme court have led to a significant change in the

interpretation of rights in the united states.

One important case involving the freedom of religion was Reynolds v. United

States in 1879. Reynolds, a Mormon living in Utah had two wives. Polygamy was

allowed in the teachings of the church, but prohibited by a federal lab banning

the practice in the United States. Reynolds when convicted argued that the

federal law violated his constitutional right to the free exercise of his

religious beliefs. The Supreme Court did not agree with Reynolds claiming that

congress was not without the power to punish violations of social duties or

subversive of good order. The court said that to place religious belief

superior to the law of the land, would in affect permit every citizen to become

a law unto himself. Government would exist only in name under such

circumstances. The ruling in this case has upheld that ones religious beliefs

do not permit him/her to break the law to suit his religion, and that that

governmental law presides over all religious beliefs. This is an example of the

limitation of the Guaranteed rights of the constitution. The right to practice

religion freely allows people to believe what they want however they must abide

by the laws of government in order to prevent a lawless society. Because of

this case it is now established that governmental law precedes religious law.

Another important case recently involved the right of protection against illegal

search and seizure. In T.L.O. v. New Jersey two girls were caught smoking

cigarettes in the bathroom of a New jersey high school. Being searched revealed

cigarettes, marijuana, large amounts of cash, and records indicating the sale of

marijuana on one of the girls. The girl was convicted of drug charges but her

lawyer argued she was searched illegally. This case was another example of the

limitation of rights. The issue in this case was the right of protection

against illegal search and seizure versus the need of the school system to

create and maintain a safe learning environment. According to law a law

official must establish “probable cause” before a search can take place.

However in a public school setting school officials operate under “reasonable

suspicion” this was established because of the school’s responsibility to

provide a safe learning environment. This case upheld the schools right to

search under the cause of reasonable suspicion. Schools now currently operate

under reasonable suspicion.

Finally the case of Schenck v. United States is considered one of the most

important cases in United States history. This case dealt with the Guarantee of

free speech and how it is limited. In 1919 Schenck, the general secretary of

the Socialist party, had been convicted of sending some 15,000 strongly worded

leaflets to men who had been called to military service, urging them to resist

the draft. The issue in this case was the individual rights of expression and

speech against the needs of society. In this case a very important precedent

was set the idea of “clear and present danger” which states that when words are

in 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. That words

can be outlawed and those who utter them can be punished when their use creates

an immediate danger that criminal acts will follow. This case has set a

precedent that has existed for almost eighty years regarding free speech.

Todaythe statement has been revised to read “immediate clear and present danger”

to expand the rights of the individual.

Under the constitution the citizens are Guaranteed certain rights and freedoms,

however these rights are not absolute they are relative to the rights of others.

The Supreme Court will continue to attempt to balance the rights of the

individual with the needs of society at large. Because of this the Supreme

Court is an extremely essential part of the United States government.

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