The Supreme Court

Slavery Overview

Education In The Supreme Court Explained

Education In The Supreme Court Explained

The Supreme Court of the United States has been responsible for deciding several cases pertaining to educational facilities, their educational policy, and their challenge of the U.S. Constitution. The case, Brown v. Board of Education, become one of the most talked about cases to ever be heard by the Court. The result of this landmark Supreme Court decision led to the overturning of the prior case heard by the Court, Plessy v. Ferguson, which upheld the “separate but equal” provision of public facilities, enforced by State governments and justified within the bounds of the Equal Protection Clause.  However, it was ultimately proved that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment does not permit racial segregation in schools. In addition, the Court applied the First Amendment of the Constitution, helping to protect free speech rights of juveniles within the school setting.
In 1896, the Supreme Court decision of Plessy v. Ferguson determined that racial segregation within the United States was Constitutional in all public accommodations. The decision was largely based upon the doctrine of “separate but equal” in United States Constitutional law, justifying systems of segregation that were enforced in public facilities, where conditions of both accommodations were supposed to be maintained equally. After the end of the Reconstruction Era in the wake of the U.S. Civil War, the Federal Government left racial segregation up to the states to decide, and a total of 17 states adopted rules of racial separation. 
Plessy v. Ferguson marked the first important case that challenged racial segregation as Constitutional in the United States at the Supreme Court level. Although the Court found State segregation to be Constitutional, this case was a prerequisite to other cases to follow, which also challenged the notion of “separate but equal” in educational settings such as public schools.
Brown v. Board of Education
In 1954, “separate but equal” facilities were still in use, as upheld by Plessy v. Ferguson. Education, however, was yet to be fully challenged and the Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education, challenged whether or not education should be included as a “separate but equal” accommodation.
There was no doubt that the education black children received in separate schools did not meet the same quality standards as the schools in which white children attended. The Court decided in a 9-0 vote that denying black children the same educational opportunities as white children was unconstitutional and should be against all schools’ education policy. Not only did this claim a victory for black people in the United States to receive quality educations, but it also helped paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and led to public integration of both white and black people.
The idea of racial segregation in the United States had been in use for nearly a century since the end of the Civil War prior to this case and was enforced by Plessy v. Ferguson. A total of 17 states had specific legislation which required white and black children to be separated in public school settings. In 1951, a lawsuit was filed against the Board of Education of the City of Topeka, Kansas, which was heard in the United States Distrtict Court for the District of Kansas. Thirteen parents living in Topeka filed suit on behalf of their twenty children calling for a reversal of the policy of racial segregation in their elementary schools.
Under Kansas law, school segregation was permitted, though it was not required for schools in communities with a population above 15,000. The parents claimed that they had attempted to enroll their children in the public schools that were closer in location to their homes, though they were denied and relocated to segregated schools further away. The District Court found in favor of the Board of Education, citing the case of Plessy v. Ferguson.
Supreme Court Hearing

The Supreme Court chose to hear the case, as it combined five other cases around the United States with similar matters into Brown v. Board of Education, paying special attention to the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution guaranteeing equal protection to all United States citizens. The clause that guaranteed equal protection was applied to the notion that all children should be given equal education opportunities. It was discovered before the final Supreme Court decision was issued that a majority of the Justices on the Court were already predisposed to overturning Plessy v. Ferguson. The argument of whether or not to end segregation was based on the notion of black people being inferior to white people. As a result, all but one Justice rejected segregation.
After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Brown, Topeka, Kansas quietly integrated all of their schools, which were largely done without demonstration or opposition. Not everyone was happy about the decision, however, as Virginia Senator Harry F. Byrd, Sr. organized what was known as the “Massive Resistance”, aimed to close public schools rather than desegregate them. Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus ordered the State National Guard to block the entry of black children into public schools in Little Rock.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

This Supreme Court decision helped to shape the rights of children in public schools in the United States. The case has continued to have influence years after it was decided, as many courts still use what is known as the “Tinker test” to determine if the disciplinary actions of school officials violate a child’s First Amendment rights.
The case revolved around John F. Tinker, his sister Mary Beth Tinker, and Christopher Eckhardt, who decided to wear black armbands displaying peace symbols as they attended school one day. The purpose of the armbands was to protest the Vietnam War, while simultaneously supporting Senator Robert F. Kennedy’s Christmas Truce of the War. The school board immediately passed a policy which banned the armbands in school and any student that violated the policy would be suspended. All three children chose to violate the policy, and as a result, they were suspended from school until January 1, 1966.
When the Iowa Civil Liberties Union heard about the children and their suspension, they approached the Tinker family and convinced them to file the lawsuit in U.S. District Court. The District Court upheld the decision of the Des Moines School Board, and after an appeal to the 8th Circuit, the decision was upheld once again after a tie vote. The case was finally brought to the Supreme Court on November 12, 1968.
Supreme Court Hearing
The Supreme Court, in a 7 to 2 decision, decided in favor of the Tinker family, citing that the First Amendment of the Constitution applied to public schools. The main reasoning was that if the school officials wanted to censor their speech in a justified manner, especially such silent messages as an armband, they should have proven that the reasoning was more than just a desire to “avoid the discomfort and unpleasantness that always accompany an unpopular viewpoint.” Ultimately, the Court believed that the armbands in no way caused disruption and the actions they took for symbolic speech were protected by the U.S. Constitution.
Tinker is a case that is still referenced in courts when deciding battles pertaining to student limitations in freedom of speech in public schools. Even so, such cases as Bethel School District v. Fraser and Hazelwood v. Kulmeier were both Supreme Court decisions that found in favor of school officials.

Eminent Domain Defined

Eminent Domain Defined

The views of eminent domain are applied to the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution which dictates that no private property can be taken for public use without compensation. This doctrine recognizes the powers that existed beforehand and the actions of it seizing private property for public use rather than establishing the property to a new power. The rule of eminent domain applies to the all independent governments, which in earlier years were not a part of a practiced law. 
It was not until 1976 that powers of eminent domain were recognized by the Supreme Court. It was the case of Kohl v. United States where the Supreme Court affirmed that eminent domain was a requirement to the applications of the National Government just as it was to the application of any State.
The Federal power of eminent domain has limitations expressed by the Constitution, where property may only be recovered for the benefit of a granted power. However, this rule applies to a number of objects that may be affected under national powers. Under the provisions of eminent domain, the rights of the National Government cannot be enlarged or declined by any State.
It is true that any land within a State is for the State’s purpose, yet if Congress authorizes the need for that piece of land or property, they have the right to issue recovery. They can do so either by proceeding with a hearing in the courts of the State, with the State’s agreement, or by proceeding within a court of the United States with or without a State’s consent.
Before the application of the Fourteenth Amendment, the ability to apply eminent domain to State governments was not limited by the Federal authorities. Moreover, the rightful compensation of the Fifth Amendment did not apply to the states. When the conditions of eminent domain first applied the measure of protection governed by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, it was not applicable to states.
It was not until 10 years later that the Supreme Court ruled that the argument of compensation awarded to a State eminent domain case was not only applicable to local laws. The Supreme Court declared that even if a State Legislature may apply the procedure of private property for public use,  it is not the State’s right to declare due compensation for a private property recovered for public use.
The Supreme Court guarantees the compensation flow from eminent domain from two different sources, identifying that the cases of eminent domain should be reviewed by both State and Federal governments. The Supreme Court made it clear that the conditions of eminent domain will only be exercised by legislation and they have the right to extend this power to private corporations, such as public utilities as well as railroad and bridge companies, when it is in need of a valid public purpose.
The conditions of eminent domain expressed by the Supreme Court made it aware that recovering a private property was not the decision of the State Government. In order for the process to be clarified as a valid person, the case of eminent domain needs to be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Environment Law Explained

Environment Law Explained

Environmental law has a series of treaties, regulations, representations, and common law that all systematically intertwine and
work together. These series of doctrines broadly identify the reaction of
humanity and the rest of the natural environment. It
s purpose is to control the impact of human activity on
the natural environment
, as well as the impact of human activity on
humanity itself. Environmental laws are ideally separated into two major areas
regarding pollution and environmental remedies
, as well as the management and conservation of natural resources.

Many environmental laws regarding pollution concentrate on a single element, such as air or water pollution, discussing the
liabilities for those responsible for exceeding what is allowable by law as
well as the responsibility for clean up.Other environmental laws regarding the
conservation of resources often focus on one resource per law
, such as forests, animal species, mineral deposits, and other abstract resources such as scenic areas or sights
of value to archaeological research.

Environmental laws are usually influenced by
principles of philosophy and social concerns of environmental conservation, as
well as improving the state of the environment. Pollution control laws are
implemented to protect overall human health and to preserve the natural

With the Constitution being the oldest document that
applies to American practices today, many note that its durability is an
extension of its capability to adapt.
As Americans, we presented major social and economic changes that
remodeled the way we live, create, and work. Environmental protection concerns
ve presented significant changes in the way our
Government is run. There has been the
implementation of more administrative agencies
, as well as national regulatory programs.

Below are a list some regulations applied to
provide environmental protection

●    The Clean Air Act (CAA)1970- A Federal law that regulates air emissions. It
also authorizes
the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) to establish quality standards protecting the society and
regulate hazardous air pollutants


    The Clean Water Act (CWA) 1972- Developed a basic structure to discharge pollutants and
regulate quality in surface waters


    The United States Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA)-
Protects human health and the natural
environment. Congress gave the EPA authorization to write regulations
explaining what is needed to improve and implement environmental laws. 


    Energy Policy Act (EPA)- Addresses the issues concerning the production of energy
in the US including all aspects of energy efficiency, renewable energy,
oil and gas, coal, vehicles and motor fuels, hydro power, geothermal energy, and climate change technology.


    Food Quality Protection Act
– This Act was created to evaluate the levels of pesticide
residues in foods to meet the standard of public health protection.


    Safe Drinking Water Act (1974)- This Act establishes the standards for safe
drinking tap water requiring rules for ground water protection. Last amended in
1996 with funds established to pay for water system upgrades


The current environmental laws that address
environmental protection present a foundation for the conditions and changes
brought on by American advances of technology. Many people argue
, however, that the
environmental laws need to be examined and intensified to be able to encompass
the  capacity in the way technology uses resources today. 

All You Need To Know About Cruel and Unusual Punishment

All You Need To Know About Cruel and Unusual Punishment

The Cruel and Unusual Punishment History
Cruel and unusual punishment refers to the punishment inflicted upon a person to create as much suffering and humiliation on that person as possible. All capital punishments throughout most of the world’s recorded history have been purposely designed to be extremely painful.
Examples of such painful acts of capital punishment include boiling to death, flaying, disembowelment, crucifixion, crushing, sawing, impalement, and necklacing which were practiced in many different countries throughout the world, such as France, England, Germany and the countries of Asia. Such punishments were not only cruel and painful because of the method in which they were carried out, but also because of the occasionally slow process in which they were carried out leading to further suffering. Impalement and crucifixion often required the condemned person to suffer for many days before finally dying.
Notable Cases Pertaining to Cruel and Unusual Punishment
Today, many of the countries which have performed such acts of punishment on condemned persons have ceased to do so and have been deemed unacceptable. The English Bill of Rights described such acts as unacceptable and the same idea was finally adopted when the Eighth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was written. The Supreme Court has examined this portion of the Amendment in several cases, including Louisiana ex rel. Francis v. Resweber and Robinson v. California. The former case determined that the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause applied to the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Francis v. Resweber
This case asked the question of whether or not capital punishment through the electric chair a second time can be done after the first attempt failed. Francis and his legal team maintained that a second attempt would be a violation of the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution.
Robinson v. California
The Supreme Court case of Robinson v. California decided that punishing a person based solely on a medical condition, such as a controlled substance addiction, is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. The case also helped enforce that having an addiction to narcotics is indeed an illness and not a crime; a crime being something committed in an ‘act’.
The background revolved around Robinson, who was stopped by a police officer, who noticed track marks on Robinson’s arms. He was eventually arrested for a misdemeanor for being addicted to a controlled substance. He was eventually convicted and sentenced to 90 days in jail.
Furman v. Georgia
In the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Furman v. Georgia, it was determined that enforcing capital punishment in arbitrary and inconsistent patterns is a violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution and is a violation of the Cruel and Unusual Punishment Clause. The case involved Furman, who was burgling a victim’s house. When he attempted to flee, he claimed his gun went off and killed the victim, contradicting his prior statements to police, in which he stated that he turned around and fired a blind shot. In either case, he was committing a felony and was involved in the death of the victim during that felony, constituting the death penalty in the State of Georgia. Although he was sentenced to death, he was never executed.
The Supreme Court decided in a 5 to 4 decision that enforcing the death penalty in Furman’s situation was unconstitutional and was considered to be cruel and unusual punishment. Consequently, 37 states enacted new laws governing the death penalty and procedures leading up to it to avoid arbitrary impositions of capital punishment.
From this case, four principles were developed by Justice Brennan in examining the possibility of capital punishment and what constitutes cruel and unusual punishment:
1)    The punishment cannot be degrading to human dignity in the case of torture.
2)    A severe punishment inflicted in a completely arbitrary manner.
3)    A punishment that is largely rejected throughout society.
4)    A severe punishment which is “patently unnecessary.”
Prohibited Capital Punishments, Regardless of the Crime Committed
In the case of Wilkerson v. Utah, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that death by firing squad in Utah was indeed Constitutional and did not present a method of capital punishment in the territory of cruel and unusual punishment. The Justices further commented that such punishments as drawing and quartering, public dissecting, burning alive, and disemboweling would be cruel and unusual forms of punishment, regardless of the crime committed by the convicted person(s). In addition, executing either the mentally handicapped or persons under the age of eighteen are also violations under criminal laws.
Prohibited Capital Punishments for Specific Crimes
The case of Weems v. United States in the Supreme Court helped to overturn a specific type of punishment which was called cadena temporal, meaning hard and painful labor. The Supreme Court case of Trop v. Dulles showed that stripping a person of naturalized citizenship was indeed a cruel and unusual punishment because it involved “destroying an individual’s status in organized society.” In addition, the case of Solem v. Helm came to the conclusion that holding a person in jail for an extended period of time disproportionate to the crime committed is a form of cruel and unusual punishment under criminal laws.

Death Penalty and Rape
The Supreme Court case of Coker v. Georgia showed that enforcing the death penalty on a person convicted of the rape of a woman is an excessive punishment under criminal laws. Furthermore, Kennedy v. Louisiana determined that the rape of a child will not constitute capital punishment, as long as there was no life taken in the process. In this case, however, the Supreme Court failed to recognize a Federal law which states that capital punishment for child rape in military court-martial proceedings may apply. The Supreme Court has refused to reconsider the case based upon this law.