Most Controversial Supreme Court Cases Historical Events
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Most Controversial Supreme Court Cases

On June 26, 2013 the Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), ruling that same-sex spouses legally married in a state may receive federal benefits. The vote Wednesday was 5-4. In the spirit of this historic Supreme Court ruling, here is a list of some of the most controversial Supreme Court cases in history.

These U.S. Supreme Court decisions, some of which date back more than 100 years, include rulings on such hot button issues as abortion, civil rights, states' rights, gay rights and election laws. These decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States are considered by many to be among the most controversial. If you don't see a case on this list, feel free to add it in the comments section below!

The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the land so many of its decisions will be controversial as they are final and apply to everyone in the country. When dealing with issues such as abortion there will always be a large divide between the people and many different views will clash. When the government makes a final decision on an issue like abortion of course there will be controversy as it's impossible to make everyone happy. But that is what the Supreme Court is supposed to do. We pick the best judges to sit and listen to cases and make the right decisions based on our laws and customs. There has to be someone to make these controversial decisions and the Supreme Court has done a good job of it so far. Not everybody will agree with all of their decisions but it is not possible to say that the country would be better off without a Supreme Court.

What are the most controversial commonwealth law cases? What are some of the most controversial decisions made by the US Supreme Court? Take a look at these cases and see what knowledge you can gain from their logic.

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    In 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.

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    The 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.

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    2003'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.

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    The U.S. Supreme Court's 1962 ruling in the landmark Engel v. Vitale case established the basis for restricting prayer in public schools. Parents of students in New Hyde Park, New York, filed suit claiming that the voluntary prayer in the school system violated the First Amendment. The High Court ruled that the prayer was an unconstitutional state establishment of religion and thus, a violation of First Amendment rights.

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    Snyder v. Phelps

    In October of 2010, the Supreme Court heard arguments in the Snyder v. Phelps case. This case concerned the issue of public protests at funerals. Albert Snyder, the father of Marine Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder, filed suit against the Westboro Baptist Church, led by pastor Fred Phelps. Snyder's son Matthew was killed in Iraq. Members of the Westboro Baptist Church picketed at the young Marine's funeral, holding signs that said, among other things, "Thank God for Dead Soldiers" and "Thank God for 9/11." Snyder filed a lawsuit. In March of 2011, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church, upholding the group's rights to picket, and saying that the First Amendment (free speech) protects protesters in this case, because Westboro's picket signs dealt with "matters of public import." Westboro continues to picket at military funerals and other high-profile funerals today.

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