Supreme Court Cases


Supreme Court Cases Essay, Research Paper

Over the past 100 years rights of U.S citizens have evolved. In particular the rights of woman and men have changed a great deal, also freedom of expression has changed a lot. Each one of the above rights have foot holds in several different amendments, specifically the First, Fifth, and Fourteenth for gender discrimination, and for freedom of expression the First mainly. The following cases are cases which I think represent the evolution of gender discrimination and freedom of expression best.

The first case is Frontiero Vs. Richardson (1973) this case is a good example of gender discrimination. The gender which is being discriminated against is the female gender. Sharron Frontiero is a lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force. She filed for a dependent s allowance for her husband. The dependent s allowance was denied. According to Federal Law the wives of military members are provided with this allowance automatically, yet husbands of military members are not given the allowance unless there wives income provides for over one half of their support. According to Frontiero not allowing her husband or any other husbands to have dependency, by not allowing this they were unconstitutionally discriminating against female military members which violated the fifth amendment s due process clause. Frontiero, won the case . The court found that yes, it violated the due process clause, which said dissimilar treatment for men and woman who are similarly situated.

The second case is Michael M. Vs. Supreme Court of Somona County (1981) This is also a good example of gender discrimination. The gender being discriminated against male. Seventeen and and a half year old Michael M. was charged and found guilty of violating California statutory rape law. The law said that unlawful sexual intercourse was an act of sexual intercourse accomplished with a female not the wife of the perpetrator, where the female is under 18 years . This law held only men accountable of statutory rape in California. Michael M. challenged that the law was unconstitutionally discriminate on the basis of gender. The court said no, it was not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the fourteenth Amendment. The court then said young men and woman are not similarly situated with respect to problems and the risks of sexual intercourse.

The third case is United States Vs. Virginia. (1996) This is a good example of gender discrimination. The gender being discriminated against is female. Virginia Military Institute being an all male institute the United States brought a suit against VMI saying that the school was unconstitutional and that it violated the Fourteenth Amendment s equal protection clause. Virginia then proposed Virginia Women’s Institute for Leadership. VMI and VWIL both would teach the same thing but VMI is much more prestigious. The big question was does VWIL satisfy the Fourteenth Amendment s Equal Protection Clause. According to the court no, because VWIL could not give women the same benefits as VMI.

The last case is that of Stanley Vs. Georgia. (1969) This case is different from the other cases for two reasons, one, this case is about freedom of expression and, two, this case has been used as an example for a couple other cases for example Osborne Vs. Ohio. Warranted officers searched Stanley s home looking for any evidence that could help convict him of his alleged bookmaking activities. The search unearthed three reels of 8mm film. The officers viewed the film and concluded that they were obscene and seized them. Stanley was tried and convicted, his conviction was based on the 8mm film and the Georgia law that prohibits the possession of obscene materials. Stanley then took Georgia back to court saying that his freedom of expression was being violated according to the First Amendment. The court said that having obscene materials was not a crime according to the First and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Marshall said If the First Amendment means anything, it means that a state has no business telling a man, sitting alone in his own house, what books he may read or what films he may watch. Our whole constitutional heritage rebels at the thought of giving government the power to control men s minds. The court as a whole stated the difference between private possession and distribution and production of obscene materials. The court then ruled that the state could regulate the latter.

Gender discrimination has went from a hardly mentioned thing in a world were men ruled to a thing were equal rights are stood up for and discrimination will not be stood for. Over the last 100 years freedom of expression has changed a lot too. At one time reading pornography or speaking against the government was one in the same and was taken care of discretely and shunned upon by most but, know it is common knowledge of pornography on the inter net or magazines ect.. In other words it is not a big deal anymore. Through the above examples it is quite clear how gender discrimination and freedom of expression have evolved over the last 100 years.

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