Landmark SCOTUS Decisions

Landmark SCOTUS Decisions

( – The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) has the power to change Americans’ lives. Over the last century, the court has ruled on everything from civil rights to gun rights. Below are some of the most consequential decisions in the last 70 years.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

In 1896, the SCOTUS ruled segregated public facilities were legal when they released their Plessy v. Ferguson decision. The ruling established the “separate but equal” doctrine.

It became apparent over the next six decades, the system was anything but equal. African-Americans were discriminated against at every level. In 1954, the justices once again ruled on segregation in the case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. This time, the court ruled segregated schools were “inherently unequal” and black people were being denied equal protection under the 14th Amendment.

Roe v. Wade

Before 1973, abortions were illegal in the United States, but the Supreme Court changed this when they ruled on Roe v. Wade. In this landmark case, the justices stated women have a right to privacy per the 14th Amendment, and laws that make terminating pregnancies illegal violate that right.

The court decided women in their first trimester must not have restrictions imposed. The state may add restrictions in second-trimester abortions that are reasonably related to the mom’s well-being, and the procedure can be outlawed in the third trimester as long as there’s an exception for the mother’s health.

District of Columbia v. Heller

In 2010, the court issued one of the biggest, most important rulings related to the Second Amendment in history in the case of District of Columbia v. Heller. The justices ruled the amendment protects Americans’ right to bear arms unrelated to militia service if they’re using the weapon to guard their home. The court found the District of Columbia violated that right when the city passed a ban on handguns.

Matal v. Tam

Finally, Matal v.Tam was a landmark First Amendment case that settled the issue of “hate speech” once and for all. The justices ruled the state cannot regulate speech, even if it’s hateful.

The First Amendment protects all speech, not just what we like. The ruling was 8-0 with all justices participating except Justice Neil Gorsuch.

These are just four of the many, many decisions that have impacted the American peoples’ lives. There are others like the 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision that permitted interracial marriages and the 1969 Tinker v. Des Moines ruling that guarantees students the right to free speech. The list goes on and on and is worth a further look.

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