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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.

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 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. 

17th Amendment

17th Amendment

Just like the President and our mayors and governors, we elect our senators to represent us in the United States Senate.  The Senate is one of two houses (groups) in the US Congress.  There are two Senators for every state, for a total of 100.  This system is to make sure that every state has an equal amount of representatives in this important law-making body.  Did you know that Americans were originally not allowed to vote for Senators?  Believe it or not, the legislature of every state used to elect the state’s senators and the people would elect the Congressmen that serve in the House of Representatives.  If you think this sounds unfair, many Americans in 1912 thought so too.  The 17th amendment provides for regular voters to elect their Senators.  The reason for this is simple, when we look at the process to become a Senator in 1912.
The problem with letting representatives choose representatives is corruption.  Corruption is breaking the law to get favors or better treatment for yourself or someone else.  Many of the Senators that were “elected” by the state legislatures had struck corrupt bargains with the legislature and many people were angry over the lack of choice they had.  By the time the 17th amendment was proposed, almost thirty states were in favor of directly electing senators.  The 17th amendment was proposed in 1912 and was completely ratified by 1913.
Text of the 17th amendment


The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, elected by the people thereof, for six years…
(every state will have two Senators, and they will serve six-year terms in Congress.)
…and each Senator shall have one vote. 
(one vote per senator, which now means 100 votes in total for our Senate)
The electors in each State shall have the qualifications requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
(any person that can vote in state elections may vote for the senator of that state)
There is also this important paragraph in the 17 amendment:
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, 
(if a senator leaves office)
the executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such vacancies
(the governor may appoint someone to fill that opening)
Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
(as long as the state allows the governor to do this)


Critics of the 17th amendment
Not everyone is in favor of the 17th amendment.  States complain that their power to influence the federal government was taken away by the federal government.  They could no longer have their interests represented in the legislature, as the Senators became disconnected with their state’s government, an arrangement that many states did not like.  The popularity of the 17th amendment with the people was important though and that helped the 17th amendment survive all the way to today.

Bowers v. Hardwick

Bowers v. Hardwick


Bowers V. Hardwick: The Background

The case of Bowers v. Hardwick is very interesting. It all started when Mr. Hardwick was returning home after a night of drinking at a nearby bar. Mr. Hardwick was ultimately arrested for engaging in consensual love with another adult male. When arrested, the Georgia police officers claimed he had violated restrictions within the state’s Sodomy Law. 

The statutes within the state’s Sodomy Law stated that any sexual activity undertaken between two individuals of the same SEX. Men were not allowed to be sexual with other men and women were not allowed to be sexual with other women in the state. 

Mr. Hardwick appealed his arrest, claiming that the law violates his constitutional rights. 

Bowers V. Hardwick: The Trial

Mr. Hardwick was accused of illegally showing love for an individual of the same sex. Mr. Hardwick rejected these charges by claiming the law violated the Equality Clause, represented in the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. The date of Bowers—who was the Georgia State prosecutor—v. Hardwick took place on March 31st of 1986. 

Hardwick was initially arrested and sentenced to jail for being intimate with another male. The case was upheld by the state courts and Mr. Hardwick was sent to jail. Angered by this court ruling, Mr. Hardwick appealed the decision and took his claim to the United States Supreme Court. Mr. Hardwick felt violated. The United States Constitution stated that all men were created equal; Mr. Hardwick felt that he should not be punished for being himself. 

Bowers v. Hardwick: the Verdict

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Georgia, stating that the 14th Amendment should be applied to activities and events that did not exist in direct contrast to the traditional values expressed. The Supreme Court also stated that statutes addressing sodomy did not exist within the 14th Amendment. 

The 14th Amendment prohibits the United States government from infringing on the rights for a citizen of the United States to pursue “life, liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” 

 

 

18th Amendment

18th Amendment

The 18th amendment is the only amendment to be repealed from the constitution.  This unpopular amendment banned the sale and drinking of alcohol in the United States.  This amendment took effect in 1919 and was a huge failure.  Not only did regular people find other ways to drink alcohol, criminals made a lot of money selling alcohol to those people.  The 21st amendment repeals the 18th amendment in 1933, and today we call the period that the 18th Amendment was law Prohibition.
The 18th amendment was not always unpopular.  In fact, some states had already banned alcohol before the 18th amendment.  Before the 18th amendment became law, religious activists, famously women but also some men, blame alcohol for violence and other problems that were affecting American families.  They would take axes and other weapons and attack saloons or other places that stored alcohol, destroying all of it.  The motivation for the 18th amendment was inspired by these activists and their desire to make a better society by outlawing alcohol.  We now know that the 18th amendment failed and in fact, made things worse.

Let’s explain the text of the 18th amendment.
Section 1
After one year from the ratification of this article…
(the 18th amendment would go into effect one year after the states ok’ed it)
…the manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into, or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited…
(selling, making, or bring liquor into the country or United States territory, will be made illegal)

Section 2
The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Congress can pass any laws it needs to make sure that this law is enforced and alcohol is not consumed illegally)

Section 3
This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
(this amendment needs to be ratified by ¾ of the states within seven years of it will become invalid)

What were the effects of the 18th amendment?
Mississippi was the first state to accept the amendment, in 1918 and New Jersey was the last, in 1922, at number 46.  By then the majority had already been reached.  After the 18th amendment, Congress passed the Volstead Act, which set the date for prohibition at January 17, 1920.  This act also defined strict limits on beverages containing alcohol, ensuring that the content would be no more than .5%.  The Volstead Act contained the provisions to enforce the 18th amendment on Americans.  This Act did allow for some alcohol to be kept as “medicine” and for “research,” and this was often exploited.
The 18th amendment gave rise to the gangsters of the 1920s that made a huge profit selling illegal alcohol.  Such was this disaster that the government would finally agree to get rid of Prohibition and the 18th amendment ten years later.

Brandenburg v. Ohio

Brandenburg v. Ohio

 


Brandenburg V. Ohio: The Background

Clarence Brandenburg was a leading member of the Ku Klux Klan (a very mean-spirited group of radicals). His group was located in the woods of Cincinnati. When Brandenburg’s Klan formed a rally, the man contacted a local news station in Cincinnati and invited the organization to cover the Klan’s rally. The news station arrived at the rally and began filming the events. This filming resulted in the broadcast of a very hateful demonstration, filled with hate-speech and racist actions. This filming was broadcasted live to residents of the Ohio city. In reaction to the hateful speech, a number of residents called the news station and complained about the broadcast. 

Clarence Brandenburg was arrested for forming and participating in the rally and for asking a news station to film the hateful meeting. Brandenburg broke the state’s law which prohibited the publication of any hateful or violent showing. Mr. Brandenburg appealed the charges against him by claiming his action were not criminal in nature.  

The aspect of criminal intent was the main factor in this case. Did Brandenburg intend to commit a crime? Was he in violation of his free speech rights? Is it illegal to broadcast hateful and racist speech to American homes via the television? 

Brandenburg v. Ohio: The Trial

The Brandenburg v. Ohio trial took place on February 27th of 1967. Clarence Brandenburg was accused of broadcasting a hateful showing. Brandenburg appealed these charges by claiming he was protected under his 1st Amendment Rights. He claimed his rights as an American citizen were violated when he was arrested and that he was unjustly punished for non-violent and non-criminal expressions. 

Brandenburg V. Ohio: The Verdict

The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Clarence Brandenburg stating Ohio laws that prohibited the delivery of expression and speech directly violated the 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution. Within this ruling, the United States Supreme Court was sure to distinguish between violent acts and hateful speech that implied violence. Although the Ku Klux Klan’s rally was hateful, the sentiments expressed were not deemed by the United States Supreme Court to be of an immediate danger to those around the rally. 

The 1st Amendment was the reason why Brandenburg v. Ohio favored Brandenburg. The 1st Amendment of the United States Constitution ensures that every citizen of the U.S. is granted the freedom to express themselves so long as it does not pose a threat on anyone else. The speech or expression also cannot be delivered with a threat of violence. 

19th Amendment

19th Amendment

The 19th amendment is a very important amendment to the constitution as it gave women the right to vote in 1920.  You may remember that the 15th amendment made it illegal for the federal or state government to deny any US citizen the right to vote.  For some reason, this did not apply to women.  The 19th amendment changed this by making it illegal for any citizen, regardless of gender, to be denied the right to vote.
The movement to allow women the right to vote through the 19th amendment was the Suffrage movement.  You may have heard of women such as Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who were key figures in the Suffrage movement.  The Suffrage movement has been going on since the Civil War, but the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments did not cover the rights of women to vote.  These women were the original authors of the 19th amendment although it took forty-one years before the government would even consider ratifying the 19th amendment.  Many lawmakers feared that women would vote in large groups, which would affect the outcome of elections.
The 19th amendment unified suffrage laws across the United States.  Before the 19h amendment, there were many states where women had full suffrage, including New York and most Western states.  Other states had limited suffrage, only allowing women to vote in select elections.  During this time, there were a number of efforts to get Congress to consider the 19th amendment, mostly successful, until 1919.  Wisconsin was the first state to approve the amendment and the 36th and final approval needed to have the amendment passed was in Tennessee in 1920, by a slim margin.  With that ratification complete the 19th amendment became part of the constitution on August 18, 1920.
The Supreme Court would later defend the right of women to vote under the 19th amendment in Maryland, where one concerned citizen sued to stop women from voting.  This man, Oscar Leser, believed that the 19th amendment interfered with the state’s electorate.  The Supreme Court disagreed.
All states, even states that rejected the 19th amendment at first have ratified the amendment.  The last state was Mississippi.  This is a symbolic measure, since the 19th amendment became was with the 36th state ratifying it.  Alaska and Hawaii were not yet states and therefore, cannot ratify the amendment.


What is the text of the 19th Amendment?
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged…
(the US government may not stop a citizen from voting)
 by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
(neither the federal or state government can prevent the right to vote based on sex)
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
(Congress is empowered to pass laws to protect the right of women to vote in the United States)

20th Amendment

20th Amendment

The 20th amendment is a simple amendment that sets the dates at which federal (United States) government elected offices end.  In also defines who succeeds the president if the president dies.  This amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933.
What is the text of the 20th amendment?
Section 1 


The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January
(After an election year, the president and vice president end their term on January 20)
and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January
(Congressmen end their term earlier, on January 3)
..of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
(these dates, effective after an election year and towards the end of a term)
Section 2


The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint a different day.
(Congress starts on January 3, unless they pass a law that says otherwise)
Section 3


If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become President. 
(The Vice-President is next in line to the presidency)
If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified, declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President or Vice President shall have qualified.
(The Vice President may assume temporary Presidential authority if the President is not able to fulfill the duties of the office, even if it is for a few hours)

Section 4


The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
(In rare cases, the Congress may choose the next president if the Electoral College fails to elect a President)
Section 5


Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the ratification of this article.

World Trade Center Bombing

World Trade Center Bombing

The World Trade Center Bombing: The Background
On February 26th of 1993, a truck bomb was set-off underneath the North Tower of the World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan. This attack was done by terrorists. An act of terrorism is a systematic use of violence to instill fear on a population.
The World Trade Center bombing of 1993 involved the detonation of a 1,500 lb. nitrate-hydrogen enhanced explosive. The device was intended to blow-up both buildings and ultimately kill thousands of people. Although this horrific plan did not come to fruition, the bombing killed seven people and injured over 1,000. 
The World Trade Center Bombing was planned by a terrorist organization that was comprised of the following people: Ramzi Yousef, Mohammed Salameh, NidalAyyad, Mahmud Abouhalima, AhmanAjaj and Abdul Rhmam Yasin.
Before the attack, these men laid out a series of demands. These demands were printed in New York’s papers. The men wanted the United States to stop being friendly with Israel. They also wanted the United States to get out of the Middle East. In these letters to the newspapers, the terrorists said that the World Trade Center bombing would be the first act of terrorism if the demands were not met. 
Following the World Trade Center bombing, a number of federal agents and police officers raced to the scene. In the weeks following the World Trade Center Bombing, investigators found a piece of the bomb’s transport vehicle. A vehicle identification number was also found which led the authorities to investigate where the rental truck came from. The agents ultimately determined that the truck used to carry the bomb was rented by Mohamed Salameh. 
The arrest of Salameh led the police to the apartment of Abdul RahmanYasin. The dominoes then fell in the right place for the United States and its agents. In March of 1994, the other men responsible for the World Trade Center Bombing were arrested. Their charges included the following: conspiracy, explosive destruction of property and interstate transportation of explosives. In November of 1997, the terrorists were formally convicted for their role in the World Trade Center Bombing. Today, the men all sit in a tiny jail cell. They will be there for the rest of their lives. 

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