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Worcester v. Georgia

Worcester v. Georgia

Worcester v. Georgia: The Background

Worcester v. Georgia deals with Georgia state laws. These laws were passed following an agreement reached between the Cherokee tribe and the state government of Georgia. The laws instituted a prohibition of non-Indians from living in Indian territories. Only Non-Native Americans with special permission from the government were allowed to live on these lands.

The case begins when missionary Sam Worcester and his family (wife and 5 fellow missionaries) refused to move from a land that was labeled an “Indian territory.” In addition to refusing to move, the group refused to apply for the government license that would allow them to reside on the lands. Because of this refusal, the army entered the Native American lands and arrested Worcester along with the other 6 people. Following his arrest, Worcester appealed his charges and took his case to the Supreme Court.

Worcester v. Georgia: The Case Profile

Worcester v. Georgia began on February 20th of 1832. The case was filed by Worcester who claimed that his family’s forced removal was a violation of his constitutional rights. He believed the state of Georgia overstepped their boundaries, for they did not maintain jurisdiction to enforce the law within the Native land. Worcester v. Georgia was decided on March 3rd of 1832 by the United States Supreme Court.

Worcester v. Georgia: The Verdict

Chief Justice John Marshall (the judge who presided over the case) ruled in favor of Mr. Worcester in Worcester v. Georgia. Chief Justice Marshall believed that the state government of Georgia did not have the power to enforce the law within lands that were not within the jurisdiction of the state. The Supreme Court, through Marshall, also stated that the interactions between the Native American tribe and the state of Georgia must be considered and approached as international talks.

The Supreme Court of the United States ruled in favor of Worcester because they found the state to have violated his 14th Amendment rights. The 14th Amendment does not allow any government in the United States from blocking a citizen’s right to pursue “life, liberty, and happiness.” Furthermore, Worcester v.

Georgia also dealt with the due process clause which refers to the government’s obligation to maintain and respect these legal rights. The United States government is thus required to treat all American citizens in a respectful manner. Any attempt to overstep their boundaries will be deemed a violation of the constitution. The case of Worcester v. Georgia is an example of this.

14th Amendment

14th Amendment




All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed.

But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.


No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may be a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.


The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations, and claims shall be held illegal and void.


The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.


The 14th amendment is a very important amendment that defines what it means to be a US citizen and protects certain rights of the people. There are three important “clauses” in the 14th amendment, each of which is still important today. A clause is a sentence in any part of our constitution.

Citizenship Clause – the citizenship clause gives individuals born in the United States, but especially at that time, African Americans the right to citizenship. Before the 14th amendment, African Americans could not become citizens and this limited the rights of those that we’re able to escape slavery and become free. This clause allows all people born in the United States to be US citizens.

Although this right was established by the Civil Rights of 1866, this amendment made the law permanent as many feared that the law could be overturned and take away the citizenship of African Americans. Later on, the Supreme Court protected this right for the children of immigrants, and the right of Native Americans to become citizens also was protected later on.

Once you have American citizenship, it cannot be taken from you by Congress or other authorities, unless you lie to the government during the process to get US citizenship. Otherwise, everyone that becomes an American citizen stays an American citizen, unless they give it up themselves.

Due Process Clause – the due process clause protects the 1st amendment rights of the people and prevents those rights from being taken away by any government without “due process.” Due process is a trial by jury for all people accused of wrongdoing. Although you may think the 1st amendment already protects these rights, the 14th amendment especially enforces the Bill of Rights on the states, to make sure that they can never limit the rights of Americans without fairness. There were also a number of rights that are protected for those that are accused of a crime but have not been proven to do anything wrong yet.

Equal Protection Clause – This part of the fourteenth amendment states that there may be no discrimination against them by the law. The federal government enforces this protection on the states, ensuring that they do not. Remember that the Bill of Rights protects some rights for Americans. The equal protection clause extended this protection to the state governments. This clause of the 14th amendment would later be used to end discrimination and segregation in the South.

The 14th amendment was important in bring the Confederacy back into the United States after the Civil War. The US took responsibility for the pensions for a soldier that had fought in the war and refused to take on the Confederate debts, while also preventing former Confederate leaders from holding elected office or civil positions. Section 3 of the amendment allowed some of these leaders to regain their posts if 2/3 of the state legislatures voted to allow it. The 14th amendment also ensured that debts due to the emancipation of slaves were “null and void” (not allowed).

Third Amendment

Third Amendment

A Guide to the Third Amendment

The Third Amendment or Amendment III of the United States Constitution is the section of the Bill of Rights that prohibits soldiers from temporarily residing in private homes during peacetime without getting the permission and consent of the owner. It is only legal to do this when it is wartime it must still follow the law.

The third amendment was introduced into the United States Constitution as a part of the Bill of Rights on September 5, 1789, and was ratified or voted for by three-fourths of the states on December 15, 1791.

The Text of the Third Amendment

The text of the Third Amendment which is found in the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights is the following:

No soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

History of the Third Amendment

During the American Revolutionary War, American colonists were often asked to allow soldiers to temporarily live in their homes. Even before the Revolutionary war, the British government had passed two separate acts called the Quartering Acts. One of these acts was a part of the Intolerable Acts, which were thought to greatly violate the colonists’ privacy.

Because British soldiers did not have bases across the colonies, the soldiers needed somewhere to stay at night. After the Quartering Acts were passed, a soldier could demand to say in barns, uninhabited houses, or in places like stables, bars, and inns. British soldiers could also take the property of the American colonists during the Revolutionary War. The American colonists were very angry about this, which is why the Third Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights.

The Third Amendment was introduced by James Madison. The Third Amendment said that no soldier could demand a place to stay during wartime, although a soldier of the United States government could ask someone for a place to stay. During wartime, a soldier might be able to occupy a property for a short period of time. However, during peacetime, the lawful property owners’ rights were much more important than the military’s rights. Because of this property owners had the legal right to refuse to quarter a solider if they wanted to.

Americans did still quarter soldiers, even until the Civil War. Since then, the Third Amendment has been only been applied on very few occasions.

Although we do not quarter soldiers as much anymore, the Third Amendment is still very important because it looks at the idea of a person’s right to privacy. The Third Amendment works to protect the privacy of every American by giving everyone the right to stop soldiers from accessing their private property during peacetime.

Roper v. Simmons

Roper v. Simmons

Roper v. Simmons: The Background

The case of Roper v. Simmons took place in 2004. However, the situation that sparked the case began in 1993, when a minor (aged 17) named Christopher Simmons murdered a female victim named Shirley Crook. Simmons planned his murder in detail, he knew what he wanted to do and he did it.

In 1993, Christopher Simmons entered the home of Shirley Crook. Simmons robbed the woman, then tied her up and threw her off a nearby bridge. Simmons was arrested shortly after this brutal crime. Following a short trial, the court found Simmons to be guilty of all charges. The court sentenced Simmons to death. In response to these charges, Christopher Simmons appealed the execution due to his status as a minor.

The case of Roper v. Simmons deals with minor law. Christopher Simmons believed he did not deserve capital punishment because he was below the age of an adult. Minor law defines that individuals below the age of adulthood are not subject to a number of criminal punishments.

The Roper v. Simmons ruling was delivered because of a previous case, Stanford v. Kentucky. In this case, which took place in 1989, the court found that minors can be subject to the death sentence only if the charges warrant execution. The court found that capital punishment sentences for minors between the ages of 16 and 17 did not violate any rights awarded by the 8th Amendment.

Roper v. Simmons: The Case Profile

The Roper v. Simmons trial took place on January 26th of 2004. Christopher Simmons initiated the Supreme Court case because he felt that the initial sentence of death was in violation of his 8th Amendment Rights.

This Amendment to the United States Constitution provides protection against punishments that are considered to be cruel and unusual. Simmons’s belief was that he was below the age of an adult and therefore should not be subject to capital punishment. The Roper v. Simmons was decided on March 1st of 2005. The case of Roper v. Simmons in the United States Supreme Court featured the defendant Christopher Simmons and the plaintiff, Roper, who was the acting prosecutor for the state of Missouri.

Roper v. Simmons: The Verdict

The United States Supreme Court in Roper v. Simmons ruled in favor of Simmons. The United States Supreme Court explained that sentencing a minor to death was indeed cruel and unusual punishment. Additionally, the United States Supreme Court overturned the ruling that was established in Sanford v. Kentucky.

15th Amendment

15th Amendment

The 15th amendment protects the rights of Americans to vote in elections to elect their leaders. Specifically, it confirms the right to vote and lists conditions that are illegal to deny another person the right to vote. Any American cannot be denied the right to vote, based on race, color, or being a former slave.

The 15th amendment was important in that it not only finally gave African Americans the right to vote but also allowed the most African Americans in history to be elected into public office. Once in office, they pursued laws that provided schools for all children and allowed people of different races to be married.

After the US Army was pulled out of the South, white Southerners reasserted their power and passed laws that prevented those whose grandfathers had not been citizens from voting as well as making people pay to vote. This prevented African Americans from voting meaningfully in the South until much later in the 20th century. Therefore, even though the 15th amendment protected the voting rights of African Americans and other minorities, it was not until much later that the federal government stepped in to enforce it.

Before the 15th amendment

Before the 15th amendment and the Civil War, African Americans, even those who were not slaves, could not vote. The right to vote would imply that these men were citizens, which was not acceptable to Americans at the time. The Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sanford set the rule for African Americans not voting and this rule was in place until the 15th amendment.

Let us look at the text of the amendment

Section 1

The right of citizens of the United States…

(The 14th amendment grants citizenship to all born in the United States and this amendment grants them the right to…)

…to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State…

(the federal or any state government may never take away this right)

…on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.

(all persons, regardless of their ethnicity, race or status as a former slave has the right to vote)

Section 2

The Congress shall have the power to enforce this article…

(The legislative branch, congress must enforce the 15th amendment)

…by appropriate legislation.

(by passing laws to protect the right to vote for the people mentioned in this amendment)

Problems with the 15th amendment

Many states were wary of the 15th amendment, mostly because they did not want Chinese and Irish immigrants to vote. In fact, California and Oregon would not ratify the amendment due to the large number of Chinese immigrants that lived there.

It was not until almost 90 years later that these states would ratify the 15th amendment. The 15th amendment passed, without the support of these states, in 1870 and these protections largely helped African Americans, as long as there were federal troops to protect them.

Barron v. Baltimore

Barron v. Baltimore

The Background: Barron V. Baltimore

Mr. John Barron was a resident of Baltimore, Maryland. He sued his home city because his business, which was located in Baltimore harbor, was damaged. The city of Baltimore passed an adjustment of water flow law which ended up cutting-off water to Mr. Barron’s property.

Because of the law, Mr. Barron’s boats were not able to properly dock in the harbor. The lack of water and the inability to dock resulted in his boats getting damaged. Barron sued Baltimore and was ultimately rewarded money to compensate for his damaged boats. However, the city appealed the ruling and brought the case to the United States Supreme Court.

The case of Barron V. Baltimore deals with eminent domain. This means that the government can repossess property owned by citizens in the event that the property taken is necessary for public use. The problem was, “public use” was not defined when this case was tried—Barron v. Baltimore took place in 1833!

The Case: Barron V. Baltimore

Mr. John Barron in Barron v. Baltimore said that the government’s use of eminent domain was a direct violation of the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The 5th amendment states that the government must respect, maintain and uphold the legal rights of all American citizens and that the government must retain a person’s liberties and human rights.

Mr. Barron thought that is was unfair and illegal for the government to mess with his personal property. He thought that he should be repaid for the damages caused to his boats. The city of Baltimore thought that they were in their rights to restrict water supply. They thought that they were allowed to do this because it ultimately helped out the community.

The Verdict: Barron V. Baltimore

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Baltimore, stating that the 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution was limited and only should be followed by the Federal government. The 5th Amendment does not state that it must be followed by all state and city governments in the United States. Because of the ruling in Barron V. Baltimore, the United States Supreme Court established that a individual citizen’s property was not susceptible to the regulation of the 5th Amendment.

Miller v. California

Miller v. California

Miller v. California: The Background

The case of Miller v. California involved a man named Marvin Miller, who was a part owner of a business that was considered to be lewd and sexual in nature. In the year of 1972, Mr. Marvin Miller started an advertising campaign where he distributed a ton of letters to citizens of California.

The majority of these individuals never requested this information and Mr. Miller ran into legal trouble when a mother and her child received one of Miller’s crude advertisements. The mother and child were highly offended by Mr. Miller’s advertisement. Shortly after receiving the publication, the mother filed a complaint to the California police department.

After reviewing the materials, the California police department was found guilty of distributing this information which was considered to be unsuitable for the general population. In response to the charges, Marvin Miller appealed the arrest and the fact that his material was considered “obscene.” In Miller v. California, Marvin Miller claimed that the arrest was a violation of his 1st Amendment Rights, which awards him the right to speak and express himself freely.

Miller v. California: The Case Profile

The case of Miller v. California took place on January 19th of 1972. The case was heard in the United States Supreme Court. The case was filed by Marvin Miller, because he claimed that he was unlawfully censored and arrested due to the fact that his materials were considered obscene by the California police department. The case of Miller v. California was decided on June 21st of 1973.

Miller v. California: The Verdict

The United States Supreme Court in Miller v. California ruled in favor of the state of California. The court found Marvin Miller guilty of the misdemeanor because the material was deemed unsuitable for the general population. The Supreme Court found that the material Miller was handing out and distributing to the public was not meant for children to see. Therefore, Miller’s 1st Amendment rights were trumped in this particular matter.

The 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution allows citizens of the United States to engage in free speech, the freedom of the press, the freedom of religion, and the right to assemble. These freedoms, however, are not awarded to an American citizen if the individual puts the general population in any sort of harm with their speech, assembly, press or religion.

The verdict of Miller v. California created the ‘Miller Test.’ This test is used to define what is considered obscene or unsuitable for the general public. The Miller Test will take a publication or any piece of art or communication and evaluate whether or not it is suitable for the public. It will look at how dirty it is or how it may offend people and decide whether or not it is protected by First Amendment Rights.

United States v. Lopez

United States v. Lopez

The United States v. Lopez: The Background

The United States v. Lopez case was the first United States Supreme Court case since the early 1930’s to create laws that limit Congress’s power.

The United States v. Lopez case begins with a man named Alfonzo Lopez. Mr. Lopez was a High School Senior in San Antonio, Texas.

On March 10th of 1992, Lopez carried a concealed handgun into school. The gun was loaded and Lopez had five backup rounds of ammunition tucked away in his jeans. When Lopez was confronted by police and school officials, he admitted to carrying the gun.

The very next day, Alfonzo Lopez was charged with violating federal laws which banned guns on all school properties in the United States. The law Alfonzo Lopez was accused of violating was called the Gun-Free School Zone Act of 1990.

Alfonzo Lopez appealed his arrest by stating that the creation of the law was unconstitutional. Lopez claimed that the laws went beyond the power of the United States Congress; he believed that Congress was not allowed to create laws that essentially control the public school district.

Lopez’s first defense failed; the court ruled that Congress possessed the authority to regulate activities that affected schools throughout the United States.

Alfonzo Lopez was convicted of carrying a weapon on school grounds. He appealed the initial court decision and brought his case to the Fifth Circuit of Appeals. Lopez again claimed that the Commerce Clause was a direct violation of the Constitution to the United States.

The Fifth Circuit overturned the original conviction by stating the charges and the law itself was beyond the power of Congress. In response to this decision, the United States government then appealed to the Supreme Court. The Government wanted the commerce laws to remain in effect.

The United States v. Lopez: The Trial

In the Supreme Court Case, United States v. Lopez, the United States Federal Government’s argument was that the possession of a firearm on or within an educational facility would likely lead to a violent crime.

A violent crime ultimately affects the condition of the school and the wellbeing of the population. Because of this, the government believed that the commerce clause should be upheld and practiced.

In the United States v. Lopez, the Supreme Court backed the previous decision offered by the Court of Appeals. In United States v. Lopez, the United States Supreme Court stated that Congress has the broad power to make laws under the Clause, but these powers were limited and did not extend to the areas of the Lopez case.

The United States v. Lopez took place on November 8th, 1994. The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Alfonzo Lopez on April 26th of 1995.

16th Amendment

16th Amendment

A tax is money that is paid to the government and will be added when buying or owning something valuable. The 16th amendment is an important amendment that allows the federal (United States) government to levy (collect) an income tax from all Americans.

Income tax allows for the federal government to keep an army, build roads and bridges, enforce laws, and carry out other important duties.

The federal government realized in 1913 that in order for it to collect taxes effectively, and not have to share that tax money with the states, federal income tax was necessary. Other taxes, such as taxes on houses or other property are considered “direct” taxes by the Constitution and would have to be divided back among the states.

Let us look at the 16th amendment

The Congress shall have the power to lay and collect taxes on incomes…

(Congress is allowed to collect some of the money earned by people working in the United States)

from whatever source derived…

(it doesn’t matter where the money is earned, as long as it is “income”)

without apportionment among the several States…

(there is no need to share the revenue with the states)

and without regard to any census or enumeration.

(the census, a count of all the people that live in the United States that happens every ten years, can’t be used as a basis for distributing taxes on people)

How did income tax start?

There was an income tax before the 16th amendment, and it was in effect during the Civil War. Anyone making more than $800 would be charged a tax of 3% and then eventually 3-5% on income over $600. This was actually a lot of money during the Civil War. This income tax ended in 1866.

The desire of Americans to pass an income tax on the rich was strong in 1909 when President William Taft proposed 2% of big businesses known as corporations. Following this lead, Congress wrote the 16th amendment and after agreeing on the rules of the amendment about income tax, sent to the states to be voted on. Although many northern states did not like the idea of an income tax in the 16th amendment, western states strongly supported it.

For the amendment to become part of the constitution, 36 states needed to ratify (approve) it. The 36th state to approve the 16th amendment was Delaware in 1931, almost four years after the first state, Alabama, ratified the 16th amendment in 1909.

The 16th amendment became part of the constitution after it was ratified and since then the federal government has collected taxes from Americans every year on their income (money earned). Income tax is charged on wages (money) earned from working a job, earnings from a business, dividends (money from stocks and investing), and rental property (charging someone to live in a building you own). The 16th amendment is effective here in that it specifically allows all income to be taxed.

Boumediene v. Bush

Boumediene v. Bush

Boumediene V. Bush: The Background

The case of Boumediene v. Bush dealt with something called habeas corpus. The case revolves around a man named Lakhdar Boumediene who was a naturalized citizen of Bosnia. Mr. Boumediene was placed in military prison by the United States Government at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Habeas corpus is a legal action which states that a prisoner in jail can be released if there is little evidence that says he should have been put in jail in the first place. Habeas corpus can be sought by the prisoner him/herself or by another body who comes to the prisoner’s aid.

So, if a prisoner enacts a habeas corpus, he or she will be taken out of jail and placed in a court. The courts will then review and determine whether the government or organization that put him in hail has the authority to do so. If the custodian does not have the power to detain the prisoner, then the prisoner will be released.

Guantanamo Bay is a scary military prison and is not formally a part of the United States of America. It is, however, rented by the United States from Cuba. The country of Cuba maintains control over the territory, while the United States simply exercises jurisdictional power over the prison.

The Trial: Boumediene V. Bush

On June 12th of 2008, Supreme Court Associate Justice Kennedy ruled for the 5-4 majority, stating that the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay had a right to habeas corpus according to the United States Constitution.

The Supreme Court decided that the United States maintained its jurisdiction and control over the camp, while Cuba retained ultimate sovereignty over it. This ruling basically says that the prisoners of the base are enemy combatants and are thus entitled to habeas corpus.

Habeas corpus is protected in Article I, Section 9 of the United States Constitution. The ruling in Boumediene v. Bush reversed the lower court’s decision which said that constitutional rights should not be extended to prisoners of Guantanamo Bay.

The Verdict: Boumediene V. Bush

The verdict of Boumediene v. Bush stated that all prisoners of Guantanamo Bay, even those who were suspected of terrorism are allowed to question the reasoning behind their imprisonment. This ruling was administered because the Supreme Court stated the prison to within the United States Court System.