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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 punishments. 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.  

United States v. Lopez

United States v. Lopez

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 for 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. 
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 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. 
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. 

Miranda v. Arizona

Miranda v. Arizona

Miranda v. Arizona: The Background
The case of Miranda v. Arizona is a famous and important legal case. The decision of Miranda v. Arizona led to the creation of something very important that is practiced to this day. The case of Miranda v. Arizona took place in the state of Arizona when a young man named Ernesto Miranda was arrested after being accused of raping a female in 1963. When Ernesto Miranda was apprehended he was given a piece of paper that asked for his formal confession. Miranda refused to sign the paper. 
After this refusal, Miranda was interrogated by the police for over 2 hours. During the interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crime. However, Miranda’s legal aids (his lawyers and attorneys) argued that the arresting officers did not make the man aware of his rights at the time he was arrested. In addition to this, the lawyers argued that the police neglected to advise Miranda of his right to remain silent so that he would not incriminate himself. The right to remain silent means that during the time of arrest the individual being arrested can keep quiet. This option allows the individual to avoid getting himself in trouble. 
After he was charged with rape, Ernesto Miranda appealed the sentence and brought his case to the United States Supreme Court. The Supreme Court accepted the case to review whether the police officers did not follow protocol and refused to inform the arrested man of his rights. 
The foundation of the Miranda v. Arizona case is found in the Constitution. The 5th Amendment to the United States Constitution requires suspects of crimes to be informed of their rights during an arrest, including the right to remain silent. In addition, the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees that an individual be informed of their right to a fair hearing after they are arrested.
Miranda v. Arizona: The Case Profile
The case of Miranda v. Arizona took place in 1966 before the United States Supreme Court. During the case of Miranda v. Arizona, Ernesto Miranda was accused of rape and the state of Arizona was accused of violating Miranda’s constitutional rights. The case of Miranda v. Arizona was decided on June 13th of 1966. 
Miranda v. Arizona: The Verdict
Chief Justice Earl Warren found in the case of Miranda v. Arizona that both Miranda’s 5th and 6th Amendment rights were violated when he was arrested. That being said, additional evidence that was placed on Ernesto Miranda affirmed his initial rape conviction.
Miranda ended up spending 11 years in prison; however, the case of Miranda v. Arizona made history. The Miranda rights are now included in the 5th Amendment, stating that all individuals retain the right to remain silent to avoid getting themselves in trouble at the time of arrest. Furthermore, the Miranda rights require that people arrested are made aware of all their rights, including their right to hire a lawyer or legal specialist. 

McCulloch v. Maryland

McCulloch v. Maryland

McCulloch v. Maryland: The Background
The case of McCulloch v. Maryland was a groundbreaking Federal court case that dealt with the formation of a federal bank and a series of individual banks. The case of McCulloch v. Maryland started through a series of important events that involved a number of laws. The following laws will allow you to understand what was going on with the McCulloch v. Maryland case. 
In 1816, the United States Congress passed an Act that allowed Federal Banks to be located and to operate within individual states in the U.S. Two years later, in 1816, the state of Maryland passed an Act that placed all banks and financial institutions that operated in the state under the taxation model of Maryland. This law thus made banks and other financial institutions in the state, including all federal banks, to pay Maryland state tax. A year after the passing of this law, McCulloch v. Maryland was heard.
McCulloch v. Maryland: The Case Profile
The case of McCulloch v. Maryland was heard in 1819. The case was tried in the Supreme Court of the United States. Andrew McCulloch was the defendant in McCulloch v. Maryland. McCulloch was the appointed manager of the Federal Bank located in Baltimore, Maryland. McCulloch refused to pay the state tax imposed by Maryland; he believed that federal banks were not subject to state taxation. 
In McCulloch v. Maryland, the state was the plaintiff. The state of Maryland believed that the federal bank should pay state taxes because they were operating on their land and using their resources. 
McCulloch v. Maryland: The Verdict
The United States Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland ruled in favor of the defendant, Andrew McCulloch. The United States Supreme Court in McCulloch v. Maryland ruled in favor of the defendant because the Necessary and Proper Clause of the United States Constitution stated that the Federal Government was permitted to operate banks within individual states without paying taxes. The decision in McCulloch v. Maryland created a precedent; it led to a number of future decisions involving taxation issues and the federal government. 

James Wilson

James Wilson

Founding Father: James Wilson


James Wilson was born in September the 14th, 1742 in Scotland. Here, he went to the Universities of St. Andrews, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. James Wilson never finished his studies or got his degree, since in 1765 he sailed for the New World. With the help of some letters of introduction, James Wilson became a tutor for a short time at the College of Philadelphia. Here, he received an honorary degree soon after thereafter. In November 1767, James Wilson was admitted to the bar, meaning he could practice law. James Wilson set up a practice in Pennsylvania in 1768. His practice was very successful, mostly because he handled almost half of the cases that were charged in the country court.
In 1774 James Wilson went to a provincial meeting, as the representative of Carlisle, where he was elected as a member of the Committee of Correspondence. He wrote an article called “Considerations on the Nature & Extent of the Legislative Authority of the British Parliament.” In this pamphlet, he said that the British Parliament had no right to pass laws for the America colonies. The pamphlet was published, and later it found its way all the way to Continental Congress, where it was read widely and commented on.
In 1775 James Wilson became a member of the Continental Congress, alongside many radical members who demanded separation from Britain government. James Wilson’s speeches were often commented on favorably by members of Congress. However, he was in a bind. Pennsylvania had mixed feelings regarding this issue of separation from the British government, and James Wilson would not vote against the will of his constituents. Some members thought that it was very hypocritical of James Wilson to argue so strongly for Independence, only just to vote against it.
With the support of three members who understood his position, James Wilson managed to delay the vote for three weeks, so that he could talk it over with people back in Philadelphia. When the vote happened, James Wilson was able to affirm his state’s desire for Independence.
After the Declaration of Independence, James Wilson attention went back to his state. In Pennsylvania, a new constitution was being proposed. James Wilson was strongly against it. 
Because of this, he was recalled for two weeks in 1777 from Congress, but no one would replace him, so he was put back until the end of his term. After his term finished, James did not go back home. James Wilson stayed in Annapolis for the winter, and then settled back in Philadelphia. He also resumed some parts of his law practice, except now he only consulted to corporations.
James Wilson was a leader in the Democratic-republican party. Unfortunately, he went back to his activities in speculation, which resulted in a large amount of debt. In 1779, he was appointed to serve as its US advocate general to France for maritime and commercial enterprises. Wilson was also elected to Congress in 1782. In 1784, he was appointed to attend the Constitutional Convention. After ratification of the new Constitution, Wilson looked for an appointment to the Federal government, and was made an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court by Washington in 1789.
The rest of his life was not very good. Wilson’s wife had passed away in 1786. He had destroyed his finances and spent time in a debtor’s prison. By 1798, James Wilson’s health was getting worse and worse. He often complained of mental fatigue and not being able to work. He died on August 28 of the same year while traveling to North Carolina to visit a friend.
Fun Facts About James Wilson


When we went to debtor’s prison, he was still a Justice in the Supreme Court.
James Wilson was attacked by a mob of working class people during the Revolution because he was suspected of hoarding goods, like wheat, to make the prices rise. This event is now called “Fort Wilson Riot.”

William Paterson

William Paterson

Founding Father: William Paterson


William Paterson was born in County Antrim, Ireland, in on December 14, 1745. When he was almost 2 years old, his family moved from Ireland to America. While his father traveled around the country, selling tin products, William Paterson’s family lived in New London, other areas of Connecticut, and Trenton, New Jersey. In 1750, William Paterson settled in Princeton, NJ. There, William Paterson became a manufacturer of tin goods and a merchant. William Paterson’s wealth allowed him to go to local private schools and then the College of New Jersey. He received his Bachelor of Arts in 1763 and Master of Arts 3 years later.
Afterwards, Paterson studied law under Richard Stockton, who signed the Declaration of Independence, in the city of Princeton. Soon after, William Paterson began practicing law at New Bromley, in Hunterdon County. Afterwards, William Paterson moved to South Branch, which was in Somerset County, and then relocated near New Brunswick at Raritan estate in 1779.
When the Revolutionary War broke out, William Paterson joined the New Jersey patriots’ vanguard. He also served in the provincial congress between 1775 and 1776, the constitutional convention in 1776, the legislative council from 1776 to 1777, and the council of safety in 1777. During the last year, William Paterson also held a militia commission. Between 1776 and 1783, William Paterson was attorney general of New Jersey, a job that took up so much time that he could not accept his election in 1780 to the Continental Congress. Meantime, the previous year, William Paterson had married Cornelia Bell, and he had three children with her before her death in 1783. Two years later, William Paterson got remarried to Euphemia White.
From 1783, when William Paterson moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, until 1787, he devoted a lot of his time and energy in law and did not enter the public spotlight. Afterwards, he was chosen to be the representative of New Jersey at the Constitutional Convention. He only acted as New Jersey’s representative until late July of that year. Until then, William Paterson took careful notes of all the proceedings. More importantly, William Paterson was very prominent because of his support and co-authorship of the New Jersey Plan, sometimes called the Paterson Plan, which stated the small states’ rights against the large. William Paterson only returned to the Constitutional Convention to sign the Constitution. After supporting the ratification of the Constitution in New Jersey, William Paterson started his career in the new American government.
In 1789, William Paterson was elected to the United States Senate between 1789 and 1790, where he played an important role in writing the Judiciary Act of 1789. William Paterson’s next position after being a judge was the governor of his New Jersey from 1790 to 1793. Here, he started writing what later became the volume called Laws of the State of New Jersey in 1800. He also started to revise the practices and rules of the common law courts and chancery.
Between 1793 and 1806, William Paterson served the United States Supreme Court as an associate Justice. At that time, federal judges had to ride the circuit, or travel around. Here William Paterson travelled with the full court to preside over many major trials.
In September 1806, 60 year old Paterson began travelling Ballston Spa, New York for a cure to his sickness, but he died before he could get there at his daughter’s home in Albany, New York. William Paterson was buried in the nearby Van Rensselaer family vault, but his body was later moved to the Albany Rural Cemetery, in Menands, New York.

Fun Facts about William Paterson
Both William Paterson University and the town Paterson, New Jersey are both named after William Paterson.
He is currently buried in the same cemetery as President Chester A. Arthur. 

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 peace time 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 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 were 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 war time, 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. 

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 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 voting.  In fact, California and Oregon would not ratify the amendment due to the large amount 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. 

 

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 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 a 2% of big businesses know 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.

13th Amendment

12th Amendment

William Paterson

James Wilson

United States v. Lopez

Roper v. Simmons

McCulloch v. Maryland

Miranda v. Arizona

James Wilson

United States v. Lopez

Roper v. Simmons

McCulloch v. Maryland

Miranda v. Arizona

Third Amendment

Brandenburg v. Ohio

Bowers v. Hardwick