December 18, 2014 · 26 Kislev

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Supreme Court Cases
Brief overviews of the cases highlighted.

Supreme Court Cases

Ø     Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113
Date of Opinion: January 22, 1973
The landmark Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, saying that bans against the procedure violated a constitutional right to privacy guaranteed by the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Ø     Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, 546 U.S. 320
Date of Opinion: January 18, 2006
The Supreme Court vacated the First Circuit’s ruling that the New Hampshire parental notification abortion law was unconstitutional and remanded the case, but avoided a substantive ruling on the law itself.

Ø     Gonzales v. Carhart, 127 S. Ct. 1610
Date of Opinion: April 18, 2007
The Supreme Court upheld the Federal Abortion Ban of 2005, saying that it did not impose an undue burden on the due process right of women to obtain an abortion. This overturned the rulings of three separate U.S. district courts that declared the Ban unconstitutional because it did not provide an exception for the health of the patient.

Ø     Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, 47 U.S. 483
Date of Opinion: May 17, 1954
The Supreme Court held that segregation in public schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, invalidating the claim of ”separate but equal.”

Ø     Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District No. 1, 127 S.Ct. 2738
Date of Opinion: June 28, 2007
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of a Seattle School district’s policy to use race as a tie-breaker when a high school received more applicants than it could accept and had a demographic discrepancy that deviated more than 15% from the norm. The majority held that the policy was tailored narrowly enough and that racial diversity was a “compelling state interest.”

Ø     Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, 127 S.Ct. 2652
Date of Opinion: June 25, 2007
The Supreme Court held that issue ads may not be banned from the months preceding a primary or general election, weakening the limitations of ads that connect a candidates name to a particular issue imposed by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002.


Establishment Clause Cases:
The Establishment Clause refers to the first declaration in the First Amendment, stating that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” This has been interpreted to mean a prohibition on the establishment of a national religion by Congress or the preference of one religion over another, or religion over non-religion. However, it was not until the middle of the Twentieth Century that the Supreme Court applied the restriction to state governments.

Ø     Lee v. Weisman, 505 U.S. 577
Date of Opinion: June 24, 1992
A victory for the broad interpretation of the Establishment Clause, the Supreme Court preserved precedent that sharply limited the role of religion in public schools by forbidding even non-sectarian prayer.

Ø     Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District, 509 U.S. 1
Date of Opinion: 1993
The Supreme Court required the school district to pay for a sign language interpreter for a deaf student attending a parochial school, holding that it is not a violation of the Establishment Clause because an interpreter will not add to the religious environment and that the parochial school is not being relieved of a financial burden it would otherwise bear independently.

Ø     Flast v. Cohen, 392 U.S. 83
Date of Opinion: June 10, 1968
The Supreme Court ruled that taxpayers were entitled to sue the federal government over spending that violated a specific limitation on its power. The decision has traditionally been used to allow taxpayer challenges to allocation of federal funds that violate the Establishment Clause.

Ø     Hein v. Freedom from Religion Foundation, 127 S.Ct. 2553
Date of Opinion: June 25, 2007
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that tax-payers do not have the right to challenge the constitutionality of expenditures by the executive branch, overturning the precedent set by Flast v. Cohen. This case specifically challenged President Bush’s Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.

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