Court Cases that changed America

By: Tim White

Supreme Court Case 1: Gregg v. Georgia(1976)

Gregg was found guilty of committing two armed robberies and two counts of murder. The Judge gave the jury two options: give the accused the death penalty or life in prison.

The jury chose the death penalty. After reviewing a similar court case where the evidence and findings were similar, but the penalty was not imposed, Gregg found the punishment "cruel and unusual." He felt as if his 8th and 14th Amendment rights were violated. Still the court ruled that the death penalty would be imposed since he was involved in other crimes before the murder was committed.

Relations to SPRITE

Political: Dealt with eighth and fourteenth amendment.

Social: Murder took place in clear daylight

Supreme Court Case 2: Texas v. Johnson(1989)

During the campaign season of 1984, Gregory Lee Johnson was arrested for the burning of the US Flag in front of a convention center where the National Republican Convention was being held. He burned the flag in protest of President Ronald Reagan's policies. Johnson was charged with destruction or purposeful damage to a national symbol. Even though most Americans would say that this was morally wrong, there is no law stating that the burning of the law was illegal. Johnson noticed this and argued to the court that this violated his rights protected by the First Amendment. The court agreed to listen to his case. In the end, Johnson was found innocent due to the fact that his actions were protected by freedom of speech. Justice William Brennan stated that the anger and outrage of society did not did not justify the implications of freedom of speech.

Relations to SPRITE.

Social: Inflicted a public outrage

Political: Deals with the rights protected by the first Amendment. Protest of a President's policies.

Intellectual: Case overturned due to Johnson's self realization that his rights to "Freedom of Speech" was violated.

Supreme Court Case 3: worcester v. georgia (1832)

Samuel Worcester, a religious white man from Vermont, was arrested on charges of living within the Cherokee nation without a license or permission from the governor of Georgia. Before the arrest, the Cherokee was living on land set aside for them, in which they had established their own legislature and courts. The state of Georgia ordered an annexation that abolished the Cherokee's government and so would they could remove the natives from this land and so that the state could come and distribute their land to white residents. This was part of the Indian Removal Act that President Jackson issued to southern states that gave President Jackson the power to make treaties with Native Americans for removal of tribes and tribal land.

The head chief of the Cherokee Nation, John Ross, filed with Supreme court that this was unconstitutional and went against their rights to being a sovereign nation.

While in Vermont, Worcester was a part of the American Board of Commissions for Foreign Missions. He was sent by this group to the Cherokee Nation in order to preach the gospel and work on translating the bible into Cherokee language. While living in the native land, he became good friends with the Cherokee people and it's leaders. He even advised the leaders of their political and legal rights protected under the constitution and what was stated in the treaties. The State of Georgia learned that a white man was influenced the ideas of the Cherokee during the proposed movement during the Indian Removal Act. To stop this, the state government issued a law that prohibited Caucasian (white) people to live within the lands of the native. The law stated that any white people living within these lands had to obtain a license to live there or either else leave the land. Worcester and many other missionaries challenged this law and tried to stay among the natives. Finally, after being ordered by the law, Worcester left the Cherokee Nation and went back to his family in Vermont. Over the years, Worcester was arrested time after time when he tried to go back to the Cherokee lands of Georgia. Worcester went to the Supreme Court with this case, where he was represented by lawyers that the Cherokee's had hired. Justice John Marshall ruled that the Cherokee nation was its own sovereign nation and was entitled to their own rights, land and legislatures based on federal treaties.
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Relations to sprite

Political: Ruled that the government could not remove the people of a sovereign nation, especially when the government has made treaties with those people

Intellectual: Worcester assisted the indian leaders in recognizing their rights

Religious: Worcester's original intention was to spread the word of the Gospel to the Cherokee