- 7Up 12Down 12In 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.
- 8Up 14Down 162003'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.
- 9Up 11Down 14The 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.
- 10Up 12Down 16The 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. PhelpsIn 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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