- 1Up 42Down 17Roe 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.
- 2Up 33Down 16The 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.
- 4Up 18Down 14The 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.
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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.
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Citizens United vs. Federal Election CommissionCan the government regulate political speech? This cornerstone First Amendment principle was at the center of the Supreme Court's January 2010 decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case. Ultimately, the High Court ruled that the U.S. government cannot ban any political spending by corporations (or unions) in candidate elections, including money for campaign ads that either support, or criticize, certain candidates. Some argued that not restricting such spending might compromise democracy. President Barack Obama was a sharp critic of the decision, saying that the ruling "opens the floodgates for an unlimited amount of special interest money into our democracy."
This decision reversed some key past rulings concerning campaign finance regulation - and will affect many, many f*ture political campaigns.
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