Snyder v. PhelpsProtected: The Westboro Baptist Church's right to protest at military funerals and spread hate speech during the worst day of troops' families' lives.
If you aren't familiar with these "God-loving", everything-else-hating hate mongers, allow me to introduce them.
These are the people who protest outside of military funerals, and tons of other public events they deem "evil," with signs eloquently declaring that "God hates F*gs" and "Thank God for Dead Soldiers."
The "logic" behind these nutcases' views is that everything that is wrong in the world is God's punishment for America's acceptance of homosexuality and everything else they deem unacceptable: including Catholicism, Judaism and Comi-Con nerds. Seriously.
In summation: soldiers die in war because God hates gay people. It's basically as simple as that. It's the most well-organized and well-funded hate group (excuse me, "church") since the KKK, who has actually denounced the actions of the Westboro Baptist Church.
As one can imagine, having these "Christian" homophobes at the funeral of a loved one is very upsetting, and one man decided to do something about it. Albert Snyder was the brave soul who took on the church and its leader, Fred Phelps, after they protested the funeral of Snyder's son Matthew, a Marine.
Initially Snyder was awarded compensation for his emotional and physical stress, including a worsening of his diabetes and depression. However in an 8-1 appeal's decision, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Westboro Baptist Church and their First Amendment rights.
This case is the embodiment of Voltaire's famous quote: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
- 2Protected: Segregation of Blacks and Whites (which is only okay while doing laundry)
If you made it through the public education system in the United States without once hearing the names Plessy or Ferguson, go back to school and demand a refund on your parents' taxes because they surely failed you.
Plessy v. Ferguson is one of the oldest and most famous Supreme Court cases of all time that set a scary precedent for the battle over school segregation.
In 1890, Louisiana passed an act that allowed its trains to segregate cars by race. Two years later, Homer Plessy (a man with 1/8 African ancestry) bought a ticket for the "whites only" car and was in turn arrested for violating the state's "Separate Car Act." Plessy took his case to court, arguing that the Act violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Having already lost twice in lower courts, Plessy lost once again in an epic fail on the part of our Judicial Branch who ruled that "Separate but Equal" was legal, marking another 60 plus years of racial segregation.
- 3Protected: Keeping 110,000 Japanese people in "War Relocation Camps" after Pearl Harbor.
When the United States entered World War II after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, a relatively ignored segment of the immigrant population became the scapegoat of America's fear and anger.
Because of Japan's attack and their subsequent enemy status to the U.S. and Allied forces, President F.D.R. deemed it necessary to move persons of Japanese ancestry living on the Pacific coast to "war relocation camps."
These only slightly less horrifying equivalent of German concentration camps became home to over 110,000 Japanese and Japanese-Americans beginning in 1942.
One man, Fred Korematsu, decided to ignore the President's decree and staked his ground and did not relocate, feeling that it violated his personal rights. He was eventually arrested and convicted of violating the executive order.
In 1944, Korematsu took his case to the Supreme Court who "[could] not say that the war-making branches of the Government did not have ground for believing that in a critical hour such persons 'constituted a menace to the national defense and safety.'" And thus, the internments were found legal and the ruling against Korematsu was upheld.
Smelt v. United StatesProtected: Anti-Gay Marriage Laws
Here's a case that still has no real end in sight.
In 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act was signed in to fruition by then-president Bill Clinton. This act stated the "legal definition" of marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
Fast-forward to 2009 and the case of Smelt v. the United States. This case was brought to the Supreme Court by a same-sex couple who wanted their union to be legally and nationally recognized. The Court ruled against them making it another case in which the Court ruled in favor of upholding federal law.
Then on February 23, 2011, it was announced that President Obama ruled the act unconstitutional and would stop enforcing it. However, a week later, current Speaker of the House John Boehner publicly declared that he would be taking steps to defend it.
But if past anti-gay politicians can set precedent, Boehner might just have a secret love for young guys in their early 20s that he can hire to "carry his suitcases" for him on trips and is merely protecting them from being miserable in marriages like straight people.
Hazelwood v. KuhlmeierProtected: students do not have freedom of speech in public schools.
Who would've thought that a high school in St. Louis, Missouri would become the breeding ground for a Supreme Court case in an argument for free speech?
In 1983 at Hazelwood East High School, then principal Robert Reynolds decided to remove a couple of pages from the student-run school newspaper because they contained what he deemed to be unsavory topics like teen pregnancy and divorce. The students felt that the removal of these pages was censorship and violated their right to free speech.
The Supreme Court eventually heard the case and voted in favor of the principal's decision because the school's paper was technically not a "public forum" and therefore could be held to a lesser degree of the First Amendment.
The Court's ruling also declared that the principal did not have to allow the publication of any materials that caused "legitimate pedagogical concerns."
Just remember kids, the principal is your PAL!
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