Culture War & The Supreme Court

By: Jessica Hogle

Roe Vs. Wade (1973)

Issue

Jane Roe was an unmarried Texas resident. According to Texas law, it was a felony to abort a fetus, unless the mother's safety was at risk. Roe filed a suit against Wade, the district attorney, on the grounds that it violated the guarantee of personal liberty and the right to privacy guaranteed in the first, fourth, fifth, ninth, and fourteenth amendments.

Rights Involved:

Roe argued that her not being able to have an abortion was a violation of the guaranteed personal liberty and the right to privacy stated in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Impact:

The court issued a 7-2 vote in favor of Roe. The court deemed abortion a fundamental right under the constitution, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny.

Historical Significance:

Disallowing many state and federal constrictions on abortion prompted a national debate that still continues today. The debate mainly consists of whether, and to what extent abortion should be legal, who decides the legality, and the role of religious and moral views.

Miranda Vs. Arizona (1966)

Issue:

Ernesto Miranda was arrested after a crime victim identified him. When taken into custody, police failed to inform him of his 5th amendment right against self incrimination and his 6th amendment right to the assistance of an attorney.

Rights Involved:

Even though he confessed to the crime, his attorney later argued that his confession should be excluded and inadmissible from court since he was not reminded of his rights at the time of arrest.

Impact:

With a 5-4 vote for Miranda, the court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to the interrogation by the defendant will be admissible only if the prosecution can show he was informed of his fifth and 6th amendment rights. He must not only have been informed of them but understood them and voluntarily waved them.

Historical Significance:

This case created what is now known as the Miranda Rights and are a part of the routine police procedure to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. This is can also be called mirandizing a criminal suspect. If a suspect is not mirandized, he or she may go free.

Tinker Vs. Des Moines (1969)

Issue:

John and Mary Beth Tinker wore black armbands to their public school as a symbol to protest against the American involvement in the Vietnam War. School authorities asked the students to remove the armbands but they refused. This resulted in both students to be suspended.

Rights Involved:

This case involves the first amendment of the right to freedom of speech and expression. It put into question whether or not students' constitutional rights are waved within school gates.

Impact:

With a 7-2 decision split, the court ruled that the first amendment applies to public schools and administrators would have to demonstrate a constitutionally valid reason for speech regulation in a classroom.

Historical Significance:

This case defined the constitutional rights of students in U.S public schools. The Tinker Test is used today to determine whether a school's disciplinary actions violate the first amendment.

Texas Vs. Johnson (1989)

Issue:

During the Republican National Convention in Texas, protesting the policies of the Reagan Administration, Gregory Lee Johnson doused the American flag in kerosene and set it on fire. Even though nobody was hurt, many were deeply offended by this action.

Rights Involved:

Johnson was charged with the desecration of a venerated object, which is a violation of the Texas Penal Code. This questions the first amendment in terms of the extent of freedom of speech.

Impact:

In a 5-4 decision split, the court ruled his actions as a symbolic speech which is protected by the first amendment.

Historical Significance:

This put into question how far and to what extent the first amendment goes. The court reiterated that the protection of freedom of speech does not end at the spoken or written word. The Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions on the desecrating of the U.S flag which is now enforced in 48 out of 50 states.

Supreme Court Justices Likely to Retire

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

At the age of 81, it is likely that Ginsburg will retire very soon and is possibly looking to do it soon to leave Obama in the final 2 years of his term, or she will wait for the term to end.

Stephen Breyer

At the age of 75, Breyer is also a likely candidate for an upcoming retirement. It is likely that he will retire near the end of Obama's term.

Impact:

Both Breyer and Ginsburg are a part of the democratic party. If the Republican Party takes control of the Sentate, getting liberal, democratic justice to fill their shoes would be a timely task. If they wait until the end of Obama's term, they run the risk of being replaced by more conservative judges in 2016 if the Republicans win back the White House.

Conclusion:

Same sex marriage, abortion, gender equality, women in combat, religion, and discrimination against religious schools are just some of the issues involved in today's culture war. This culture was is deeply controlled by politics in the United States. Obviously, the democratic party and the republican party are going to have different views on pretty much all of these issues due to the fact that one is more conservative that the other. With the constant differences in beliefs, it can be said that this culture war will never be resolved because no matter what, one group will not be happy with the outcome. Conservatives and liberals will always bash heads when it comes to issues like religion and same sex marriage. Times are changing but time is still the same way it was years and years ago. The constant battle over these issues is one that has always occurred and a resolution is hard to come by.