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Landmake Court Cases Essay

1964 words - 8 pages

~Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857
This was a landmark United States Supreme Court case, in 1846 a slave named Dred Scott and his wife, Harriet, sued for their freedom in a St. Louis city court. They had lived with their owner, an army surgeon, at Fort Snelling, then in the free Territory of Wisconsin. The Scotts' freedom could be established on the grounds that they had been held in relationship for long time in a free territory and were then returned to a slave state. Courts had ruled this way in the past. However, what appeared to be a straightforward lawsuit between two private teams became an 11-year legal struggle that reach the highest point of an activity in one of the most well known decisions ever issued by the United States Supreme Court.
The decision of Scott v. Sanford, considered by legal scholars to be the worst ever rendered by the Supreme Court, was overturned by the 13th and 14th amendments to the Constitution, which abolished slavery and declared all persons born in the United States to be citizens of the United States.
~Schenck v. United States, 1919
This was a landmark United States Supreme Court case, concerning the question of whether the defendant possessed a First Amendment right to free speech against the draft during World War I. Charles Schenck was the Secretary of the Socialist party and was responsible for printing give out and mailing 15,000 leaflets to men eligible for the draft that support opposition to the draft. These leaflets contained statements such as; "Do not submit to intimidation", "Assert your rights", "If you do not assert and support your rights, you are helping to deny or disparage rights which it is the solemn duty of all citizens and residents of the United States to retain." Ultimately, the case served as the founding of the "clear and present danger" rule.
The Court, in a complete in agreement in the opinion written by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., held that Schenck's criminal conviction was constitutional. The First Amendment did not protect speech was given strength orders but however it was not following directions, since, "when a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their stream of language production will not be endured so long as men fight, and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right." In other words, the court held, the circumstances of wartime permit greater restrictions on free speech than would be allowable during peacetime.
In the opinion's most famous passage, Justice Holmes sets out the "clear and present danger" standard:
"The question in every case is whether the words used are used in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent."
This case is also the source of the phrase "shouting fire in a crowded theater," a misquotation of Holmes' view that "The...

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