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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.
- 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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