Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000) James Dale
James Dale joined the Scouting program at the age of 8 years old, beginning with Pack 242 in Monmouth County, New Jersey. Over the years Dale engaged with a number of different troops and rose through the various levels of Scouting. In Troop 128, he became a protégé of M. Norman Powell, a descendent of Lord Baden-Powell (founder of the international Scouting movement). It was Powell who presented James with his Eagle Scout Award in the fall of 1988.While a student at Rutgers University, James became co-president of the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Alliance. In July 1990, he was a featured speaker at a Rutgers School of Social Work conference on the health needs of lesbian and gay teenagers and was interviewed by the Newark Star Ledger. In the interview, James was quoted as stating that he was gay. After the interview appeared, BSA officials expelled James, then 19 years old, from his position as assistant Scoutmaster for Troop 73. "The grounds for this membership revocation are the standards for leadership established by the Boy Scouts of America, which specifically forbid membership to homosexuals."James filed suit in the New Jersey Superior Court, alleging that the Boy Scouts had violated the state statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation. In 1995 Superior Court Judge Patrick J. McGann ruled with the BSA labeling Dale an “active sodomite." In 1998 the Superior Court decision was overturned on appeal.In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court of New Jersey sided with Dale, asserting that Dale’s expulsion from the BSA violated the law. The Boy Scouts appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States, which granted certiorari.
Question: Did the Boy Scouts of America violate the state statute prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in places of public accommodation?
In a narrow 5-4 decision, the Court sided with the Boy Scouts of America and overturned the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision.The majority opinion held that the First Amendment right to freedom of “expressive association” allows a private organization like the BSA to exclude members who they feel would express a viewpoint that is contrary to the organization’s mission. The Scout Oath and Scout Law set forth central tenets, including that a Scout must be “clean” and “morally straight”. The Boy Scouts of America maintained that homosexuality was unclean and immoral, and therefore the presence of an openly gay scout would be contrary to the group’s cause.
Background:The suit called for the school district to reverse its policy of racial segregation. Separate elementary schools were operated by the Topeka Board of Education under an 1879 Kansas law, which permitted (but did not require) districts to maintain separate elementary school facilities for black and white students in twelve communities with populations over 15,000. The plaintiffs had been recruited by the leadership of the Topeka NAACP.
Does the segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race deprive the minority children of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the 14th Amendment?
Yes. In a 9-0 vote The court ruled that despite the equalization of the schools by "objective" factors, intangible issues foster and maintain inequality. Racial segregation in public education has a detrimental effect on minority children because it is interpreted as a sign of inferiority. The long-held doctrine that separate facilities were permissible provided they were equal was rejected. Separate but equal is inherently unequal in the context of public education. The unanimous opinion sounded the death-knell for all forms of state-maintained racial separation.
BackgroundDuring questioning about a robbery he was connected to, Charles Dickerson made statements to authorities admitting that he was the getaway driver in a series of bank robberies. Dickerson was then placed under arrest. The timing of his statement is disputed. The FBI and local detectives testified that Dickerson was advised of his Miranda rights, established in Miranda v. Arizona, and waived them before he made his statement. Dickerson said he was not read his Miranda warnings until after he gave his statement. After his indictment for bank robbery, Dickerson filed a motion to suppress the statement that he made on the ground that he had not received Miranda warnings before being interrogated. The government argued that even if the Miranda warnings were not read, the statement was voluntary and therefore admissible under 18 USC Section 3501, which provides that "a confession shall be admissible in evidence if it is voluntarily given." The District Court granted Dickerson's motion, finding that he had not been read his Miranda rights or signed a waiver until after he made his statement, but the court did not address section 3501. In reversing, the Court of Appeals acknowledged that Dickerson had not received Miranda warnings, but held that section 3501 was satisfied because his statement was voluntary. The court held that "Congress enacted section 3501 with the express purpose of legislatively overruling Miranda and restoring voluntariness as the test for admitting confessions in federal court."
Question? May Congress legislatively overrule Miranda v. Arizona and its warnings that govern the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation?
No. In a 7-2 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that Miranda governs the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation in both state and federal courts. "Miranda has become embedded in routine police practice to the point where the warnings have become part of our national culture," wrote Rehnquist. "Miranda announced a constitutional rule that Congress may not supersede legislatively. We decline to overrule Miranda ourselves," concluded the Chief Justice. Dissenting, Justice Antonin Scalia, joined by Justice Clarence Thomas, blasted the Court's ruling, writing that the majority opinion gave needless protection to "foolish (but not compelled) confessions."
BackgroundDred Scott was a slave in Missouri. From 1833 to 1843, he resided in Illinois (a free state) and in an area of the Louisiana Territory, where slavery was forbidden by the Missouri Compromise of 1820. After returning to Missouri, Scott sued unsuccessfully in the Missouri courts for his freedom, claiming that his residence in free territory made him a free man. Scott then brought a new suit in federal court. Scott's master maintained that no pure-blooded Negro of African descent and the descendant of slaves could be a citizen in the sense of Article III of the Constitution.
Decision: 7 votes for Sandford, 2 vote(s) against Dred Scott was a slave. Under Articles III and IV, argued Taney, no one but a citizen of the United States could be a citizen of a state, and that only Congress could confer national citizenship. Taney reached the conclusion that no person descended from an American slave had ever been a citizen for Article III purposes. The Court then held the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, hoping to end the slavery question once and for all.
Danny Escobedo was arrested and taken to a police station for questioning. Over several hours, the police refused his repeated requests to see his lawyer. Escobedo's lawyer sought unsuccessfully to consult with his client. Escobedo subsequently confessed to murder.
Was Escobedo denied the right to counsel as guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment?
Decision: 5 votes for Escobedo, 4 vote(s) against Yes. Justice Goldberg, in his majority opinion, spoke for the first time of "an absolute right to remain silent." Escobedo had not been adequately informed of his constitutional right to remain silent rather than to be forced to incriminate himself. The case has lost authority as precedent as the arguments in police interrogation and confession cases have shifted from the Sixth Amendment to the Fifth Amendment, emphasizing whether the appropriate warnings have been given and given correctly, and whether the right to remain silent has been waived.
Background Furman was burglarizing a private home when a family member discovered him. He attempted to flee, and in doing so tripped and fell. The gun that he was carrying went off and killed a resident of the home. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to death (Two other death penalty cases were decided along with Furman: Jackson v. Georgia and Branch v. Texas. These cases concern the constitutionality of the death sentence for rape and murder convictions, respectively
Question? Does the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments?
Decision: 5 votes for Furman, 4 vote(s) againstYes. The Court's one-page per curium opinion held that the imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution. In over two hundred pages of concurrence and dissents, the justices articulated their views on this controversial subject. Only Justices Brennan and Marshall believed the death penalty to be unconstitutional in all instances. Other concurrences focused on the arbitrary nature with which death sentences have been imposed, often indicating a racial bias against black defendants. The Court's decision forced states and the national legislature to rethink their statutes for capital offenses to assure that the death penalty would not be administered in a capricious or discriminatory manner.
BackgroundClarence Earl Gideon was charged in Florida state court with a felony: having broken into and entered a poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanor offense. When he appeared in court without a lawyer, Gideon requested that the court appoint one for him. According to Florida state law, however, an attorney may only be appointed to an indigent defendant in capital cases, so the trial court did not appoint one. Gideon represented himself in trial. He was found guilty and sentenced to five years in prison. Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida Supreme Court and argued that the trial court’s decision violated his constitutional right to be represented by counsel. The Florida Supreme Court denied habeas corpus relief.
Question? Does the Sixth Amendment's right to counsel in criminal cases extend to felony defendants in state courts?
Decision: 9 votes for Gideon, 0 vote(s) against Yes. Justice Hugo L. Black delivered the opinion of the 9-0 majority. The Supreme Court held that the framers of the Constitution placed a high value on the right of the accused to have the means to put up a proper defense, and the state as well as federal courts must respect that right. The Court held that it was consistent with the Constitution to require state courts to appoint attorneys for defendants who could not afford to retain counsel on their own.
Background:In 1995, Jennifer Gratz applied to the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science and the Arts with an adjusted GPA of 3.8 and ACT score of 25. In 1997, Patrick Hamacher applied to the University with an adjusted GPA of 3.0, and an ACT score of 28. Both were denied admission and attended other schools. The University admits that it uses race as a factor in making admissions decisions because it serves a "compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body." In addition, the University has a policy to admit virtually all qualified applicants who are members of one of three select racial minority groups - African Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans - that are considered to be "underrepresented" on the campus. Concluding that diversity was a compelling interest, the District Court held that the admissions policies for years 1995-1998 were not narrowly tailored, but that the policies in effect in 1999 and 2000 were narrowly tailored. After the decision in Grutter, Gratz and Hamacher petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court pursuant to Rule 11 for a writ of certiorari before judgment, which was granted.
Question? Does the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
Yes. In a 6-3 opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held that the University of Michigan's use of racial preferences in undergraduate admissions violates both the Equal Protection Clause and Title VI. While rejecting the argument that diversity cannot constitute a compelling state interest, the Court reasoned that the automatic distribution of 20 points, or one-fifth of the points needed to guarantee admission, to every single "underrepresented minority" applicant solely because of race was not narrowly tailored and did not provide the individualized consideration Justice Powell contemplated in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978). Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote, "because the University's use of race in its current freshman admissions policy is not narrowly tailored to achieve respondents' asserted compelling interest in diversity, the admissions policy violates the Equal Protection Clause."
Background:A jury found Gregg guilty of armed robbery and murder and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence except as to its imposition for the robbery conviction. Gregg challenged his remaining death sentence for murder, claiming that his capital sentence was a "cruel and unusual" punishment that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.
Question?Is the imposition of the death sentence prohibited under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as "cruel and unusual" punishment?
No. In a 7-to-2 decision, the Court held that a punishment of death did not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under all circumstances. In extreme criminal cases, such as when a defendant has been convicted of deliberately killing another, the careful and judicious use of the death penalty may be appropriate if carefully employed. Georgia's death penalty statute assures the judicious and careful use of the death penalty by requiring a bifurcated proceeding where the trial and sentencing are conducted separately, specific jury findings as to the severity of the crime and the nature of the defendant, and a comparison of each capital sentence's circumstances with other similar cases. Moreover, the Court was not prepared to overrule the Georgia legislature's finding that capital punishment serves as a useful deterrent to future capital crimes and an appropriate means of social retribution against its most serious offenders.
Background:Griswold was the Executive Director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut. Both she and the Medical Director for the League gave information, instruction, and other medical advice to married couples concerning birth control. Griswold and her colleague were convicted under a Connecticut law which criminalized the provision of counseling, and other medical treatment, to married persons for purposes of preventing conception.
Question?Does the Constitution protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on a couple's ability to be counseled in the use of contraceptives?
YES. In a 7-2 Vote The SC stated that though the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. Together, the First, Third, Fourth, and Ninth Amendments, create a new constitutional right, the right to privacy in marital relations. The Connecticut statute conflicts with the exercise of this right and is therefore null and void.
Background:In 1997, Barbara Grutter, a white resident of Michigan, applied for admission to the University of Michigan Law School. Grutter applied with a 3.8 undergraduate GPA and an LSAT score of 161. She was denied admission. The Law School admits that it uses race as a factor in making admissions decisions because it serves a "compelling interest in achieving diversity among its student body." The District Court concluded that the Law School's stated interest in achieving diversity in the student body was not a compelling one and enjoined its use of race in the admissions process. In reversing, the Court of Appeals held that Justice Powell's opinion in Regents of the University of California v. Bakke, 438 U.S. 265 (1978), constituted a binding precedent establishing diversity as a compelling governmental interest sufficient under strict scrutiny review to justify the use of racial preferences in admissions. The appellate court also rejected the district court's finding that the Law School's "critical mass" was the functional equivalent of a quota.
Question?Does the University of Michigan Law School's use of racial preferences in student admissions violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment or Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964?
No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the Court held that the Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body. The Court reasoned that, because the Law School conducts highly individualized review of each applicant, no acceptance or rejection is based automatically on a variable such as race and that this process ensures that all factors that may contribute to diversity are meaningfully considered alongside race. Justice O'Connor wrote, "in the context of its individualized inquiry into the possible diversity contributions of all applicants, the Law School's race- conscious admissions program does not unduly harm nonminority applicants."
Background:Sam Wardlow, who was holding an opaque bag, inexplicably fled an area of Chicago known for heavy narcotics trafficking after noticing police officers in the area. When officers caught up with him on the street, one stopped him and conducted a protective pat-down search for weapons because in his experience there were usually weapons in the vicinity of narcotics transactions. The officers arrested Wardlow after discovering that he was carrying handgun. In a trial motion to suppress the gun, Wardlow claimed that in order to stop an individual, short of actually arresting the person, police first had to point to "specific reasonable inferences" why the stop was necessary. The Illinois trial court denied the motion, finding that the gun was recovered during a lawful stop and frisk. Wardlow was convicted of unlawful use of a weapon by a felon. In reversing, the Illinois Appellate Court found that the officer did not have reasonable suspicion to make the stop. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed, determining that sudden flight in a high crime area does not create a reasonable suspicion justifying a stop because flight may simply be an exercise of the right to "go on one's way."
Question?Is a person's sudden and unprovoked flight from identifiable police officers, patrolling a high crime area, sufficiently suspicious to justify the officers' stop of that person?
Yes. In an opinion delivered by Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, the Court held, 5 to 4, that the police officers did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they stopped Wardlow, because the officer was justified in suspecting that the accused was involved in criminal activity and, therefore, in investigating further. Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote for the majority that, "[n]ervous, evasive behavior is a pertinent factor in determining reasonable suspicion" to justify a stop. The Chief Justice noted that "flight is the consummate act of evasion." Stevens, joined by three other justices, concurred in avoiding a per se rule but dissented from the majority holding.
Background: Responding to a reported weapons disturbance in a private residence, Houston police entered John Lawrence's apartment and saw him and another adult man, Tyron Garner, engaging in a private, consensual sexual act. Lawrence and Garner were arrested and convicted of deviate sexual intercourse in violation of a Texas statute forbidding two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct. In affirming, the State Court of Appeals held that the statute was not unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, with Bowers v. Hardwick, 478 U.S. 186 (1986), controlling.