Culture War and Supreme Court

By Scott Brownrigg

Roe v. Wade (1973) vote of 7-2

The issue: In 1969 Norma L. McCorvey found she was pregnant with her third child. She attempted to say she was raped so that she could receive a legal abortion but this scheme failed so she tried to have an illegal abortion but no clinic would do it. Used to aboriton was not a choice there were many legal and federal restrictions on it. McCorvey wanted to fight this.


Rights involved: right to privacy


Impact: the decision was that of stopping her from having an abortion was in violation of her right to privacy and due process under the 14th Amendment. Women should be able to choose wether or not they have a baby and it is their right to have an abortion.


Historical significance: After this case is was declared that it was a women's right to have an abortion if they so please and they can not be stopped if it is what they want.

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003) vote of 6-3

The issue: The University of Michigan used a 150-point scale to rank applicants, with 100 points needed to guarantee admission. The University gave underrepresented ethnic groups, including African- Americans, Histpanics, and Native Amricans, an automatic 20-point bonus towards their score, while a perfect SAT score was worth 12 points. The petitioners, Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher were both denied admission and took it to court.


Right involved: equal protection clause


Impact: it brought to attention that some schools were giving extra points to racial minorities instead of making individual decisions based on the applicants history and not just their race.


Historical significance: this case stopped schools currently following this point system from doing so anymore. They must make decisions on a applicant to applicant basis and can't base any extra points off of race.

United States v. Windsor (2013) vote of 5-4

Issue: Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, a same sex couple residing in New York, were lawfully married in Ontario, Canada, in 2007. Spyer died in 2009, leaving her entire estate to Windsor. Windsor sought to claim the federal estate tax exemption. She was stopped from doing so by Section 3 of DOMA, which provided that the term "spouse" only applied to marriages between a man and woman. The international revenue service found that the exemption did not apply to same sex marriages, denied Windsor's claim, and compelled her to pay $363,053 in estate taxes


Right involved: equal protection


Impact: it was an important case in that same sex couples who were legally married were not receiving all rights they should receive and this case fought for that equal protection right for all legally married same sex couples.


Historical significance: this case declared that from then on any same sex couples that are recognized by the state are entitled to the same rights that a man and woman marriage would have.

Texas v Johnson (1989) vote of 5-4

The issue: Gregory Lee Johnson was a protestor who was with a group protesting against the policies that Reagan had made. Outside of Dallas City Hall Reagan poured kerosene on an American flag and set it aflame. Many people were offended and he was arrested for burning a respected American symbol.


Right involved: freedom of non verbal speech


Impact: Texas wanted to charge him with desecration of the American flag. Johnson continue to claim the first amendment saying that he did not disturb the peace and it was his right to nonverbal speech and he could do what he did legally.


Historical significance: this case stated that what Johnson did was protected by his first amendment and he could not be charged with anything. Someone may burn the flag in a as long as it does not disturb the peace or cause any other damage.

Supreme Court Vaccancies

After the 2016 presidential election it is likely that two supreme court justices will retire. Ruth Bader Ginsburg is age 81 as of now and it looks like she plans on retiring after the 2016 election. Justices Antonin Scalia and Anthony Kennedy will both turn 80 during the 2016 presidential election year so they're retirement is possible too. Depending on which spaces become vacant under which president, there could be a dramatic change on the court. If liberals replace any of the justices they could be around to make rulings for decades. Overturning gun rights, cementing Roe v. Wade, and granting vast new regulatory powers to the federal government. On the other hand if a conservative were elected president and is able to replace Ginsburg, Kennedy and Scalia, it could possibly create a relatively young 6-3 conservative majority that places stricter limits on the federal government and preserves more power for the states. Either way there are going to be some major changes in our supreme court in the coming years.

In Conclusion

This ongoing culture war in the US is growing and growing every year. There are always new cultures coming out and new problems presenting themselves. These problems range from race, to religion, to culture, or even traditions and many many more. They deal with equality, fairness, and protection. The can cause peaceful protests all the way to full out riots. America is the land of opportunity so people from all over the world come here bringing with them all sorts of new and different cultures. Some people like this and some people don't. This is how we are as people and chances are this culture war won't stop anytime soon but we can still work towards finding peace.