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- 1+ 62- 26Roe v. Wade remains among the U.S. Supreme Court's most highly controversial decisions. In 1973, the High Court ruled that a woman who chooses to have an abortion (in the first trimester) is within her constitutional rights to do so. This ruling essentially legalized first trimester abortion - striking down individual state laws restricting it.
- 2+ 49- 23The Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision was certainly controversial. This 1954 ruling by the High Court essentially determined that it is unconstitutional for states to establish separate schools for blacks and whites. The ruling, which said that race-based segregation in public schools was unconstitutional, set the stage for the Civil Rights Movement, as it abolished segregation in schools (though not elsewhere).
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Bush v. GoreThis landmark ruling essentially determined the outcome of the 2000 presidential race. The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 decision reversed an earlier Florida Supreme Court decision and ended a statewide recount of ballots. The justices' ruling essentially awarded Florida's 25 electoral votes to George W. Bush, saying that allowing the recount to continue would violate the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause.
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Windsor v. United StatesJune 26, 2013--The Supreme Court found the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional. The federal government's refusal to recognize legal same-sex marriages has imposed a "stigma," enshrined a "separate status" into law and "humiliates" a group of people -- and that is unconstitutional, concluded Justice Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority of Supreme Court justices on Wednesday in their historic decision striking down the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act. The vote Wednesday was 5-4.
With DOMA as the law of the land, married gay and lesbian couples were unable to receive more than 1,000 federal benefits that heterosexual couples were able to receive. Kennedy, along with Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, ruled that DOMA is unconstitutional under the Fifth Amendment.
- 5+ 22- 15In 1803, the Supreme Court of the United States issued a ruling that basically established the concept of "judicial review." The High Court ruled in favor of William Marbury. He was appointed by outgoing president John Adams as a justice of the peace in the District of Columbia. When Thomas Jefferson became president, he ordered his secretary of state, James Madison, not to allow it. With this ruling, the Supreme Court forever changed the role (and power) of the court and, essentially, the way the U.S government operates.
- 6+ 29- 22The Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court ruling in 1896 essentially held that "separate but equal" was okay, establishing the idea that segregation was constitutional. States could, legally, offer separate facilities (in this case, train seats), to blacks and whites, provided that the facilities were identical. This post-Reconstruction challenge to segregation was only the beginning.
- 7+ 23- 212003's Lawrence v. Texas Supreme Court decision was definitely controversial. In the case, the High Court ruled that the state of Texas' anti-sodomy law, prohibiting sex acts between persons of the same gender, was unconstitutional. In a nutshell, the justices' decision said that intimate sexual conduct between consenting adults, same sex or not, was protected under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- 8+ 20- 18The U.S. Supreme Court's decision in 1857 in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case essentially established that all African-Americans, whether slaves or free, do not have Constitutional rights. Slave Dred Scott had sued, claiming he should be freed because the family he served had taken him to the free state of Illinois.