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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.
- 7Up 12Down 11In 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 152003'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 11Down 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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