AP Government Court Cases
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
1. The Supreme Court had to decide if the state had power over the federal government in regulating commerce based on Article I Section 8. 2. Aaron Ogden was granted a license to run a steam-driven ferry monopoly in New York. Thomas Gibbons, his previous competitor, decided to continue running his ferries in defiance of the monopoly, so Ogden decided to sue Gibbons for trying to block his business and won in all the New York courts. 3. In this trial, the Supreme Court decided that the federal government had ultimate authority in regulating interstate commerce, and that all state commerce laws had to comply with the Federal commerce laws. 4. I think that this case was judged fairly because this was obviously a case involving interstate commerce since Ogden had been running his fairy between New York and New Jersey. New York can not have any control over the affairs of New Jersey, and anything involving both states is directly a federal affair. Korematsu v. United States (1944)
1. The Supreme Court had to decide if the President and Congress overreached their war powers by restricting the rights of Japanese-Americans with Executive Order #9066 and Military Order #39. 2. President Franklin Roosevelt issued Executive Order #9066 during World War II to force all Americans of Japanese decent to be sent to internment camps because they posed a threat to the United States. Korematsu, a man born on American soil, refused to go to an internment camp because he believed that he was an American citizen, and should be treated as one. 3. The Supreme Court decided that even though the executive order was on the shady side of the Constitution, it was justified because they were in a time of “emergency and peril”. 4. I disagree with this court decision because I think this was a violation of the fourteenth amendment made by the Supreme Court. I understand why the justices decided as they did, but their duty was to protect the Constitution, not to protect people from possible threats. This case also set a precedent which allows the president to do whatever is necessary to protect his people, even if it may be somewhat unconstitutional. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
1. The Supreme Court had to decide if Congress had the authority to establish banks under Article I Section 8 and if Maryland’s law was unconstitutionally interfering with Congress’ constitutional power. 2. In 1818, Maryland started posing state taxes in Congress’ Second Bank of the United States that was chartered in 1816. The teller, James McCulloch, refused to pay the tax imposed upon his bank. 3. The Supreme Court unanimously decided that Congress had certain implied powers that were not written into the Constitution, but were necessary to uphold the law. This way, Congress had the power to establish banks so that they could uphold their constitutional duty to coin and regulate money. 4. I agree with this decision because implied powers are a necessary part of the Constitution because they’re needed by Congress to uphold their duties. Congress had to build a federal bank in New York to exercise its power to coin and regulate money. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
1. The Supreme Court had to deicide is Louisiana’s train seating discrimination laws were unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment. 2. Homer Plessy, a 7/8 Caucasian man, refused to move from his seat in a train station, directly violating Louisiana’s train discrimination law, which required every black must give up his train seat to a white man if asked. He was arrested and sent to jail for doing so. 3. The Supreme Court decided that this was not a violation of the 14th Amendment because the 14th Amendment only requires that all citizens of the United States must be treated equally. This meant that separate facilities could be made for people of other races or colors as long as they were equal to everyone else’s. 4. I think that the Supreme Court at this time was being a strict constructionist by taking the words of the Constitution literally by taking the word “equal” literally. Even though I morally don’t agree with this case, I think that the judges played their card right and had the Constitutional backing to get what they wanted. Gitlow v. New York (1925)
1. The Supreme Court had to decide if advocating overthrowing the government was a form of speech that was protected under the First Amendment, and if it was constitutional for New York to arrest someone for doing so. 2. Gitlow was a socialist man that was distributing “left-wing manifestos” to the people in New York. These manifestos encouraged using strikes and class action to encourage socialism in the government, which made the state of New York arrest him for trying to overthrow the government. 3. The Court decided that every state had to follow the First Amendment, and that it should treat its citizens equally as stated in the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court also stated that free speech was protected, but when the speech was harmful towards the nation’s security, even if there was no resulting action, it is within the states’ rights to stop it. 4. I don’t agree with this decision because this government is of the people, and deliberately trying to oppress their view on how the government should be run is clearly violating the First Amendment. If the people are dissatisfied with their government, they have the right to change it, and voting for legislators won’t help with something like this, since they work for the government. Since there was no action being taken against the government anyways, this was a pure form of speech, and nothing else, and so it should be protected by out freedom of speech.
Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka (1954)
1. The Court had to decide if segregating based on race and gender in public schools didn’t allow the minority equal protection under the 14th amendment. 2. Brown was among some of the African-American kids in Topeka, Kansas that were not given admission into the school, and discriminated against because of their race. The NAACP along with some concerned parents decided to file a class action suit against the Topeka Board of Education, and ended up taking their case to the Supreme Court. 3. The Court turned back the Dred Scott case, and decided that “separate but equal” was not constitutional under the 14th Amendment, and that racial segregation had to be stopped because it violated the constitutional requirement to treat all citizens of the United States equally. 4. I agree with this decision because it was clear that the 14th Amendment was being violated with segregation based solely on race. I agree with the legal and moral forces reasoning of this decision, and apparently the whole Supreme Court did too. Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
1. Was being in possession of obscene material protected by the First Amendment? Was the unwarranted police search a violation of the Fourth Amendment? 2. Dolree Mapp was arrested for possessing obscene materials after they were found via an illegal police search. She believed that her freedom of expression allowed her to be in possession of obscene material. 3. The Court decided that they weren’t going to worry about the issue with the First Amendment, and instead decided there could not be a case because the evidence was obtained without a warrant or probable cause and could not be used in a court of law. This in turn, established a precedent in which any illegally obtained evidence was dismissed from court, and could not be used against the prosecutor or defendant. 4. I agree with this decision, and I find it quite admirable that the Supreme Court decided to completely ignore the actual case and instead focus on the issue of using unconstitutionally obtained evidence in court. I think this decision is a really good supplement to the Fou...