Five Historic and Controversial Rulings by the Supreme Court

(US Law) The Supreme Court has issued a number of controversial rulings; in fact, almost all of the cases which the Supreme Court rules on are controversial in nature. Some rulings, like the ruling in Brown v. Board (1954), have gone down in history as cases that were not only controversial, but also changed the shape of history. The following are some lesser known, or just more recent, cases. We may still be seeing the effects of these controversial rulings for years to come:

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly known as Obamacare, was signed into law on March 23, 2010. PPACA mandates that all individuals purchase insurance or pay a penalty.

The controversy arose when the individual mandate was challenged as being unconstitutional. Would there be anything that the government could not compel you to do if it could compel you to buy insurance? The primary argument from the government was that the individual mandate is lawful under the commerce clause. The government may not “compel” commerce under the commerce clause. The court sided with the government’s argument, and ruled that the mandate compels, rather than regulates, commerce. However, the court redefined the individual mandate as a tax leaving the mandate intact and restricting the commerce clause.

Chamber of Commerce of USA v. Whiting (2011)

This case was appealed in response to an Arizona law that suspended or revoked the licenses of businesses that knowingly employed illegal aliens, and required businesses to use E-Verify to check on the legal status of employees.

The Chamber of Commerce claimed that Arizona was in violation of the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA), which restricts states from imposing civil or criminal sanctions (other than through licensing or similar laws) against employers who violate IRCA.

The Supreme Court determined that IRCA does not prohibit the revocation or suspension of business licenses by the state of Arizona. The state may impose sanctions through the use of licensing and similar laws, as stated by IRCA. This ruling sets a precedent for other states to follow suit with similar sanctions for the purpose of controlling immigration.

Bush v. Gore (2000)

The 2000 presidential election of between sitting President George W. Bush and opposing Democratic candidate, Al Gore, was tied with Florida’s 25 electoral votes hanging in the balance. The Florida election was too close to call and required a recount. The recount was ordered to be completed by November 26th. Although the recount was not completed, the election was certified on that date as a win for Bush. Upon appeal by Gore, the Florida Supreme Court ordered the recount to continue, requiring that voter intent be determined on each ballot. George Bush appealed to the US Supreme court to stop the recount from continuing.

The US Supreme Court asserted that the inconsistent standard for identifying voter intent was a violation of the equal protection clause of the constitution. The Florida Supreme Court’s decision was reversed and the vote was consequently in support of Bush.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2008)

This case was filed after an organization wanted to broadcast the film “Hillary: The Movie” within 30 days of a primary election. The lower court ruled that it was a violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. On appeal, the Supreme Court ruled that the electioneering communication portion of BCRA was a violation of the first amendment and reversed the lower court. The ruling of the Supreme Court preserved the first amendment political speech of non-profits, corporations and unions in electioneering communication.

Miranda v. Arizona (1996)

In this monumental 1996 case, the Supreme Court ruled that admissions made by a suspect are admissible to court if, and only if, the suspect has been informed of his or her Fifth Amendment rights. The accused person must be advised that they have the right to remain silent and that they have a right to counsel. This has been the standard for more than 40 years, and has prevented coercive interrogation and confessions extracted in violation of a person’s Fifth Amendment rights.

This article was written on behalf of DeMers personal injury law firm headed by Jay DeMers, a graduate of the University of Washington School of Law, the top law school in Washington state.




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