The Supreme Court



“War Powers Clause” resides within Article I, Section 8 of the United
States Constitution. This clause sets forth Congress’ legal right to declare war
when necessary. In relation to the exercising of war powers, it is estimated
that five known wars have been declared under the authority of the United
States Constitution. These include: War of 1812, Spanish/American War,
Mexican/American War, WWI, and WWII. The Mexican/American War, however, is
often not recognized in reference to a legitimate and genuine declaration of
war since it actually occurred during the time following already heated
animosity amongst both sides. Therefore, the United States did not need to
actually declare war, but to only acknowledge its existence to the public at
hand. Still others believe it did constitute a declaration as is proved by
various legal documents attached to its occurrence.

Accompanying such authority to declare war,
however, many believed that such power could and would be abused if not
adequately regulated. In addition, war powers, in general, seemed to be at
opposite ends from each other. Congress possessed the power to declare war,
maintain the military and funding for war, as well as still held responsibility
over the inception of laws. The President, however, maintains authority on all
other aspects, such as defense against impending attacks against the country,
existing as the head of the military, the power to grant/veto bills, and
equally has the authority to declare war.

Due to these
growing concerns, Congress went forward to pass the “War Powers
Resolution” in 1973. This resolution entailed that the Commander in Chief
acquire a war declaration or resolution granting the application of force from
Congress within a time period of 60 days of the inception of such animosities.
This acquisition must be accompanied by a complete conveyance of pertinent
facts to the Acts and procedures as well.

The War Powers Resolution, however, has not been
without its own share of serious criticism. Most presidents subsequent to it
have made claims as to its unconstitutionality in relation to its imposition
upon the authority of the Commander in Chief of the United States. There are
questions as to how it places boundaries on the president’s power prior to even
obtaining a war declaration from Congress as well, thus bringing even more
questions as to its constitutionality.

additional arguments that have been posited include the need for adherence to
democracy to do away with such covert policies as well as the potential for a
violation of the “Separation of Powers
Clause. Congress has still maintained the “Necessary and Proper
Clause” as the basis for its authority in such a case, however. This Clause
specifies that Congress possesses the power to institute all laws necessary as
well as to adhere to the authority set forth by the United States Constitution.
This conflict of interests represents an area which may only be examined in
times of war, however. Therefore, it will remain an object of contention while
issues loom on the horizon.

Wiretapping Overview

Wiretapping Overview

Wiretapping may be described as the way in which conversations may be taken or recorded without persons having knowledge of such seizure. This is achieved by way of the use of electronic devices, for instance, which transmit the sound to other locations.
The advent of wiretapping may be traced back to the late 1800s when police departments began such practices. Traditionally, wiretapping occurred by way of identifying the appropriate lines and then placing a “tap” upon it in order to connect it to an additional device that would allow for others to listen.
Two early Supreme Court cases dealt with such a Constitutional issue. In 1928, Olmstead v. United States possessed a ruling that held that phone-tapping did not actually run in violation to the Fourth Amendment, which banned illegal search and seizure. The Court specified their reasoning being that it was not unconstitutional as long as police did not encroach upon the property of the individual being tapped. This was highly contested, though, in relation to the ideals that protection of privacy had pursued. This ruling did hold up for many years following its institution, however.
In 1967, this ruling was finally overturned in the Supreme Court case of Katz v. United States, which provided the arena for such change. The Court ruled that, in reference to a citizen’s “reasonable expectation of privacy” that they are entitled to under the United States Constitution, the Federal Government must possess a warrant for wiretapping practices.
In addition to these Supreme Court rulings, Congress also went forward with modifications done to the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968. In general, only wiretaps granted by court were legally viable. This entailed a specific list of offenses as outlined by the Supreme Court. A time period of up to 30 days is required as the maximum length of a wiretap. The wiretap’s subject of interest must also be divulged within the time frame of 90 days.
Toward the end of the 1900s, Congress broadened the law’s reach in terms of wiretapping to that of mail via the internet. The Act instituted was the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, also known as the Wiretap Act. This statute made it unlawful for the reading of an individual’s private email. There has been much concern over this Act, however, as this Act did not prevent the Government from obtaining data from online service providers. Therefore, despite such an Act, the privacy of individuals on the internet was still not completely guaranteed.
The 21st Century has also presented us with additional issues to consider, such as that of former President Bush’s employment of wiretaps on the “war on terror” without the possession of warrants. He cited Article II of the United States Constitution as the basis for his authority. Congress had accused the President of “breaking the law” in his authorization of the wiretapping of actual United States citizens, for instance. They may cite the Fourth Amendment alone to such an end. Despite this, however, it has been noted that a great majority of wiretapping requests have been permitted as opposed to a select few that were denied.

What Are The Supreme Court Trends

What Are The Supreme Court Trends

States Supreme Court cases are officially considered to simply present
judgments on the specific issues before the Court, and the Supreme Court as a
section of the Government is, by its own action, excluded from the ability to
set policy for the rest of the Government. That being said, numerous landmark
Supreme Court cases can be found through United States history that have
significantly affected the future course of the country.

attention paid to the long-term implications of United States Supreme Court
cases has insured that, over time, the Court has taken on an increasingly
politicized tenor with a consequential increase in the difficulty of securing
the approval of nominees submitted for the bench. The tenures of Supreme Court
Chief Justices, in particular, are frequently measured along a right/left
political spectrum, as may be determined by any landmark Supreme Court case
that occurred during their time.

The Court of John Marshall first established the
principle of the Court’s preeminence in determining the Constitutional validity
of legislation, called in practice “judicial review.” This principle
was set by the United States Supreme Court cases of Marbury v. Madison, on the
Court’s power of Constitutional interpretation, and Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee,
on the Court’s status over State Supreme Courts in this regard.

tenure, which lasted for thirty-four years, generally established the trend
toward greater power being vested in the Supreme Court. The long-term effect of
this trend was attested to by the following Courts, such as, firstly, the Taney
Court. Among this era’s landmark Supreme Court cases, Dred Scott v. Stanford
stood out in retrospect for finding against the rights of enslaved Americans
and thereby contributing to the tensions which led to the Civil War. In other
landmark Supreme Court cases of the Nineteenth Century, Lochner v. New York and
Adair v. United States helped develop the concept of due process.

The overall trend in the United States Supreme
Court cases heard for most of the 20th Century was inclined in the direction of
expanded Federal power, often toward a liberal political program. This trend
can be first identified in the landmark Supreme Court cases heard in the
Franklin D. Roosevelt administration and immediately thereafter, during which
the Chief Justices were inclined toward accommodating the New Deal programs
passed to alleviate the effects of the Great Depression.

The United
States Supreme Court cases of subsequent Chief Justices continued the same
trend. The tenure of Chief Justice Warren, from 1953 to 1969, heard landmark Supreme
Court cases, such as Brown v. Board of Education, Miranda v. Arizona, and
Abington School District v. Schempp, pertaining to such controversial issues as
school segregation, the rights of the accused, and school prayer, respectively.
The United States Supreme Court cases heard during the Burger Court, from 1969
to 1986, demonstrated the same general liberalism. A woman’s right to abortion
and the Government’s ability to enact affirmative action were among the issues
decided by landmark Supreme Court cases under this Court.

The trend of the Supreme Court since then is
generally perceived as being toward the right, at least in terms of the Chief
Justices who have presided: William Rehnquist from 1986 to 2005, and John
Roberts from 2005 to the present. The United States Supreme Court cases of the
Rehnquist Court tended to place limits on the Federal power previously
asserted. Among the landmark Supreme Court cases of the era, the Lawrence v.
Texas case acted toward interests generally perceived as liberal, disallowing
the prohibition of homosexual acts. The United States Supreme Court cases heard
by the Roberts Court have generally continued the Court’s rightward direction.

Symbolic Speech Explained

Symbolic Speech Explained

speech is seen as a representation of ones beliefs or messages in the form of
nonverbal communication. This type of presentation can be found in venues of
political activity in the form of silent rallies, marches, the wearing of
apparel such as pins and armbands, and the exhibition as well as destruction of
nationally-recognized items such as the practice of

A landmark Supreme Court case
that held such practices as its focus for contention was Texas v. Johnson. The Court’s ruling reversed flag-desecration prohibitions in
all but 2 states. Though it may be applicable to multiple parts of the
Constitution, probably the most significant area is that of the First Amendment. This Amendment entails that no law infringe upon the rights to
the “free exercise of religion,” “freedom of speech,” and
“freedom of the press”. Symbolic speech, then, appears to touch upon
these in some way or another, especially when referencing war protests.

A significant example of a
major case concerning that of symbolic speech Tinker v. Des Moines
. In this case, five students had been suspended due to their
wearing of armbands denoting peace. They argued that such apparel denoted a
form of symbolic speech, which is a branch of rights set forth within the First
Amendment. The Court ruled in their favor, finding that such suspension
violated their Constitutional rights to freedom of speech. These individuals
were not seen to have encroached on the rights of others, nor did they create
any disruption out of the ordinary. Their wearing of the patches presented no
irregularity other than a difference in clothing.

Another case, which challenged the parts of the
Constitution that dealt with that of symbolic speech, was United States v.
O’Brien, which had varying consequences. The basis of this case arose from
O’Brien’s burning of his Selective Service card on the steps of the courthouse.
In his mind, he did so in protest of the Vietnam War. In the view of the Government,
however, he had violated their rule that registrants maintain possession of
their draft cards so as to ensure the continued appropriate procedure of the
military draft. O’Brien, however, believed that his actions were just a form of
symbolic speech as can be supported by the First Amendment.

The Supreme
Court ruled against him, though, as it set forth that the country still had a
distinct interest in maintaining the integrity of draft cards. Therefore,
despite its right to protect freedom of speech rights, it does not possess the
same rights to “protect all things that may be extraneously labeled
symbolic speech,” such as occurred in this case. These two varying cases
represented both the existence of adequate forms of symbolic speech as well as
situations in which such actions must not also interfere with other
governmental concerns.

Understanding Tax and Spend Power

Understanding Tax and Spend Power

Located within Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution, the “Taxing and Spending Clause” represents an aspect by which the Federal Government possesses the authority to impose taxation upon the general public. Subsequent parts of this Clause include that of the “General Welfare Clause” as well as the “Uniformity Clause.” As set forth, this Clause maintains the Government’s authority to both tax and spend Government funds.
In terms of tax policy, one of its most important purposes is for the Government to increase revenue so that the Government may operate adequately in support of its citizens. In addition, however, there exist other considerations that Congress must take into account. These include regulatory and prohibitive taxation, as well as the existence of tariffs.
Regulatory tax policy exists to put forth limitations upon commerce, while prohibitive taxation functions to actually decrease or do away with commerce altogether. Tariffs, then, operate to protect domestic markets from foreign take-overs.
One of the last Supreme Court cases that would place limitations upon Congress’ powers of taxation and spending includes United States v. Butler. The Court ruled that taxes imposed due to the Agricultural Adjustment Act were deemed unconstitutional with regard to State regulations, and thus, violated the Tenth Amendment. Despite this seemingly overwhelming power that the Government possesses in terms of tax policy, there also exist important limitations. These include stipulations concerning apportionment of taxes as well as those attached to exports and to the general welfare of the public.
When concerning the Government’s power to spend, we may approach it as the spending of what is garnered by taxation. The purpose of such spending would, then, be for the express purpose of furthering achievement at specified Federal Government goals. An example of a Supreme Court case that rewarded good and appropriate local government conduct was that of South Dakota v. Dole.
The Court ruled that it was Constitutional for the Federal requirement for states to raise their legal drinking age to that of 21 years of age. In doing so, it was deemed fair to keep highway funds from them until they had changed their statutes.
The area of most contention within that of the powers to tax and spend arises from the General Welfare Clause. Within this Clause, some concerns included whether or not such a clause to tax and spend had imposed free spending power versus restricted taxation. Also, there was much contention over what the Clause actually entailed in terms of its genuine definition.

What You Need To Know About Search and Seizure

What You Need To Know About Search and Seizure

and seizure,” that which is defined as the examination and investigation
of material assets of a person in order to garner causes for illegality, takes
its origins from the
 Fourth Amendment of the United States
Constitution. Under the Constitution, unreasonable search and seizure is
unlawful. In pursuit of such a belief, the Constitution sets forth that search
and seizure be accompanied by arrest warrants that are both sanctioned by a
court, as well as supported by “probable cause”. This term may be
explained as the belief within reason that a crime has occurred.

Although the Fourth Amendment
does apply to that of search and seizure headed by the Government, those done
by private individuals or other parties separate from the Government do not
fall under its specifications, and therefore, may not be protected by it.
However, State governments have attained coverage according to the Fourth Amendment,
by way of the case of Mapp v. Ohio
. A
“Due Process Clause” was the result of this specific Supreme Court

In order to adequately ascertain what unreasonable
search and seizure entails, we must first break down both terms that comprise
this type of action. “Search” was highlighted in the Supreme Court
case of Katz v. United States, where the Court ruled that two qualifications
must exist in order for it to be an applicable term. These include that an
individual assumes their privacy when concerning that which may have been
searched for, and that society, as a whole, maintains the belief in the
reasonable nature of such an expectation.

In the
aforementioned Supreme Court case, these specifications existed, and therefore,
the Court ruled that a search had occurred. Scrutiny of this term’s
qualifications is important because if they are found absent, individuals will
not be able to take the shelter of the Fourth Amendment. Therefore, they will
have no case, even if they are overtaken by the encroachment of officers not
possessing warrants. Seizure is, then, the taking of any items in connection to
an individual.

Now that we have acquired a specific understanding
of such terms, we may turn to a description of what unreasonable search and
seizure entails. Such an action may be depicted as the search of an individual’s
dwelling or other areas related to them, as well as the seizure of any of their
items without the production of a warrant and also without that of appropriate
probable cause.

One area of
interest that concerns such an unconstitutional act as unreasonable search and
seizure is that of the growing drug war. Often, in an effort to crack down on
such illegal drug transactions, law enforcement conducts numerous acts of
search and seizure, some of which may actually be illegal and unconstitutional.
In addition, cases of racial profiling also take advantage of the Fourth Amendment,
as individual ethnic background may be used as a means for unreasonable search
and seizure.

Racial Segregation Explained

Racial Segregation Explained

Racial segregation, which was seen as the legal separation of different races of people due only to their specific background, was first instituted by the “Jim Crow laws”. These were instituted and employed from the end of the 1800s until the latter part of the 1900s. These laws set forth that all public areas of interest be racially segregated. Although whites believed this as an obvious effective institution of the belief in the statements of “separate but equal” doctrine, which used to take up residence within United States Constitutional law, all that occurred as a result was more harm than anything else.
As a result of the passing of such laws of segregation, individuals were subjected to maltreatment, as well as a plethora of serious disadvantages. These laws, which imposed segregation upon venues such as public transportation and public restrooms, operated only to worsen the conditions for blacks in a white-dominated society.
In reference to that of public transportation, one Supreme Court Case may be forever remembered for its upholding of such adherence to segregation. Plessy v. Ferguson represented a case in which a partially black individual had entered a railroad car specified as a whites-only car. Despite the minor fraction of black racial origin he possessed, he was considered colored, and therefore, in violation of what is set forth by the Jim Crow Laws as well as that of the statutes of “separate but equal” public policy. His attempts at seeking out the violation of his own Thirteenth Amendment as well as Fourteenth Amendment rights were, thus, in vain. This represented a landmark case in which the ability to segregate was maintained as Constitutional.
Another such equally significant Supreme Court case was that of Brown v. Board of Education, yet with a striking difference. In this case, the Court ruled that segregation within public schools was unconstitutional. This was due to the fact that it stood by the belief that, when going about means to segregate races within schools, black children were denied the equal right to educational opportunities. This case paved the way towards the elimination of segregation in various aspects of life. According to the ruling, the issue was not just that races were segregated, but that educational facilities suffered as a result, thus, leading to inequality in reference to education.
One specific aspect of everyday life that was affected by such an overturning of rule was that of anti-miscegenation laws, which looked to segregate races in terms of marriage, cohabitation, and sex. These laws were passed as specific to each State and under their discretion in terms of legislation. State law deemed a violation of such laws as a felony, and thus, prosecuted individuals accordingly.
A landmark case concerning these laws came in the form of Loving v. Virginia, in which anti-miscegenation laws were ruled as unconstitutional. These aspects that highlight past actions to segregate represent a concurrently storied past that allows legislators today the ability to take pride in how far we’ve come in terms of the abolition of such practices of segregation.

A Guide to Understanding The Separation of Powers

A Guide to Understanding The Separation of Powers

As set forth
by the United States Constitution, branches of Government have been held
separate from each other so as to ensure that no one branch may overtake the
others in pursuit of some abuse of overall power. The Government branches that
fall under this “separation of powers” include the executive,
legislative, and judicial sectors. These branches of Government each have
prescribed levels of power has set forth by the Constitution.

In relation to the executive domain of these Government
branches, though presidents are granted power to oversee command of military
forces as well as the ability to ensure that laws are passed as well as
treaties set forth, they do not actually possess absolute power. When referencing
the military, the President may place those duties onto other individuals who
may devote all their time to such endeavors as the military interest. In
addition, Congress may dispute any presidential decisions. Therefore, the President,
though possessing certain powers, must actually also adhere to the direction
set forth by Congress, which may override decisions made by the Commander in Chief.

The category
of Government branches that Congress resides within is that of the legislative
branch. Legislative power is totally within the realm of Congress, as Congress
assumes exclusive authority in terms of legislation. It may not, under any
circumstances, “delegate” its powers to any other branch of Government.
This was reiterated in Clinton v. City of New York, where the Supreme Court
stated that Congress is not permitted to delegate a “line-item” to the country’s President. According to such power Congress
attempted to delegate, the President would have the authority to abolish
provisions of a bill prior to inputting his signature upon it.

The third member of these branches of Government, the judicial branch,
maintains that the Supreme Court, as well as other smaller State and district
courts, possess authority over cases brought forth for decision to the court
system. The Justices of the Supreme Court are appointed by the President with
the support of the Senate. Upon appointment as a Supreme Court Justice, you
will remain in that position for as long as you may physically and mentally
able to.

In order to ensure the prevention of such abuse of powers by these
branches of Government, a system of checks and balances

exists. This system allows each branch the power to limit the other, thus
allowing self-regulation among the 3 branches of Government. The legislative
branch may compose and enact laws while the executive branch may veto laws. The
judicial branch has the power to provide determination as to whether or not a
law is unconstitutional.

It is a
constant checking and rechecking of the acts of each branch that occurs. One
criticism of the separation of powers, in terms of branches of Government,
includes that it may lead to a less efficient governing process. This is due to
the fact that elections bring about constant changes in majority parties within
the branches of Government.

National Security’s Purpose And Role

National Security's Purpose And Role

National security is the means by which the Federal Government provides protection over the country by means of the economy in terms of militaristic as well as political powers. There are a variety of means by which the Government may ensure such national security. These include: the use of diplomacy to calm threats by way of calling together allies, the employment of economic authority, the maintenance and strengthening of military branches, institution of emergency measures in preparation for pending threats, the monitoring of intelligence practices to ensure the lack of infiltration as well as surprise attacks, and the use of intelligence within the country to ensure the safety within as well as external to it.
One of the earliest statutes set forth was the National Security Act of 1947. It was approved by President Harry S. Truman and set forth the process of reorganizing military forces, foreign policy as well as intelligence procedures due to the outcome of the Second World War. Under this Act, both the Department of War and Department of Navy were combined into one military entity with the Secretary of Defense at the forefront of operations. The statute also was responsible for the establishment of the separation and distinction of the Air Force from the Army Air Forces. Simultaneously, the Department of Defense was enacted with the express purpose of uniting all branches of military, such as those of the Army, Navy, and Air Force.
The National Security Council and the CIA were also instituted. These organizations serve to provide counsel to the Commander in Chief in relations to issues encompassing that of domestic, foreign, and militaristic procedures.
A significant Supreme Court Case, with national security as one of its main concerns, was that of Times Co. v. United States. In this case, the Court ruled that both the printings of the New York Times as well as the Washington Post possessed the right to publish “classified Pentagon papers” despite President Nixon’s belief that it breached secrecy necessary for such pertinent Government information.
The CIA is representative of an agency run by civilians with the purpose of intelligence as its main concern. It often takes part in covert operations with the authority of the President in mind. More specifically, the CIA operates to acquire information from foreign entities in order to adequately provide counsel to the United States Federal Government. This has become increasingly important with the increase in terrorist activity, which is one of the main issues of national security. Due to this, the CIA had put into creation a “Counterterrorist Center”. Therefore, issues of national security have become the focus of such an agency.
9/11, in particular, was a specific serious concern for national security, which placed the CIA in the position of much critical speech due to its occurrence. Following such an event, increased measures have been instituted with national security as the sole focus.

What Are Obscenities

What Are Obscenities

are defined as that which are representative of issues of indecency and
profanity that remain at odds with aspects of morality. They are believed to be
existent with relation to the possibility of violations of the law. In relation
to the legal system, obscenities may be employed in relation to various terms,
such as that of war and economics.

Despite the
differences that exist depending upon the region or culture involved, the United
States does possess specific laws concerning that of censorship of such implied
obscenities. In general this category of law most often includes that of the
regulation of pornography.

One significant aspect concerning obscenities includes that of the
“freedom of expression” as outlined in the First Amendment
 of the
United States Constitution. Obscenities, according to the Constitution, is
defined as the exhibition of sexual practices in an offensive manner in ways
that have no connection whatsoever to serious aspects of literature, art,
politics, or science. Due to the censorship of obscenities, such as that of
pornography, there does remain a serious issue for legal consideration.

referencing the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court sets forth that the
term obscenity be defined such as that which may directly infer sexual acts
that may be wholly accessible to the general public. Differences between
varying areas of obscenities may also be distinguished according to the ways in
which specific local courts litigate them. Obscenity law set forth by the Federal
Government is unique in that it guarantees the variations in what is deemed as
obscene depending upon the specific area of jurisdiction.

In order to provide a firmer grasp on issues of obscenity
as outlined by the Federal Government, we may reference that of the Supreme
Court case of Miller v. California. This case ruling led to the creation of the
“Miller test”, essentially a 3 part test instituted to ascertain what
is deemed obscene and not. In addition, the Supreme Court also ruled as to the
place limitations upon the sale, conveyance, or transmission of items of

An important
case that dealt with the production of “non-image-based” obscenity
was that of Dunlop v. the United States, which maintained that it was illegal
for the newspaper, The Chicago Dispatch, to be conveyed through the mail to
consumers as it contained multiple obscenities. Cases such as this presented
the precedence by which future hearings on obscenity will be heard and ruled.
There do exist, however, critical dialogue concerning obscenity law.