RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: ESTABLISHMENT CLAUSE
Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
New Jersey’s reimbursement to parents of parochial and private school
students for the costs of busing their children to school was upheld
because the assistance went to the child, not the church. This case
also applied the Establishment Clause to the actions of state
Torcaso v. Watkins (1961)
A Maryland requirement that candidates for public office swear that
they believe in God was a religious test and violated Article VI of the
Constitution as well as the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
New York’s requirement of a state-composed prayer to begin the school
day was declared an unconstitutional violation of the Establishment
Abington School District v. Schempp (1963)
Pennsylvania law requiring that each public school day open with Bible
reading was struck down as violating the Establishment Clause.
Murray v. Curlett (1963)
Maryland law requiring prayer at the beginning of each public school
day was declared unconstitutional as a violation of the Establishment
Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)
Arkansas law prohibiting the teaching of evolution was
unconstitutional, because it was based on “fundamentalist sectarian
conviction” and violated the Establishment Clause.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Court struck down a Pennsylvania law reimbursing religious schools for
textbooks and teacher salaries. The decision held that a program does
not violate the Constitution if: (a) it has a primarily secular
purpose; (b) its principal effect neither aids nor inhibits religion;
and (c) government and religion are not excessively entangled.
Stone v. Graham (1980)
laws mandating the display of the Ten Commandments in public school
classrooms were declared unconstitutional as a violation of the
Marsh v. Chambers (1983)
States had the right to hire a chaplain to open legislative sessions
with a prayer or invocation. The traditional practice did not violate
the Establishment Clause.
Lynch v. Donnelly (l984)
Court upheld a nativity display among other symbols in a public park
“to celebrate the Christmas holiday and to depict the origins of that
Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
Alabama law setting aside a moment for “voluntary prayer” and allowing
teachers to lead “willing students” in a prayer to “Almighty God . . .
the Creator and Supreme Judge of the world” in public schools was
struck down. The law had no secular purpose and endorsed religion,
violating the Establishment Clause.
Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
could not require public schools that taught evolution to teach
creationism as “Creation Science.” The law had no secular purpose and
endorsed religion, violating the Establishment Clause.
Allegheny County v. Greater Pittsburgh ACLU (1989)
A nativity scene with the words “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,”
meaning “Glory to God in the Highest,” placed alone on the grand
staircase of a courthouse endorsed religion and violated the
Board of Education of Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990)
1990 Equal Access Act, which required that public schools give
religious groups the same access to facilities that other
extracurricular groups have, was upheld. Allowing religious clubs to
meet did not violate the Establishment Clause.
Lee v. Weisman (1992)
approved, clergy-led prayer at public school graduations led to subtle
religious coercion, and violated the Establishment Clause.
Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District (1993)
school district had to provide a sign interpreter to a deaf child at a
religious school. The aid was constitutional because it went to the
student, not the church.
Kiryas Joel School District v. Grumet (1994)
New York law creating a special school district to benefit disabled
Orthodox Jewish children was struck down because it benefited a single
religious group and was not neutral to religion.
Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board v. Pinette (1995)
cross placed by a private group in a traditional public forum adjoining
the state house did not violate the Establishment Clause, as the space
was open to all on equal terms.
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)
public school district’s policy of having students vote on a prayer to
be read by a student at football games violated the Establishment
Clause. The voting policy resulted in religious coercion of the
minority by the majority.
Good News Club v. Milford Central School (2001)
clubs were allowed to meet in public schools after class hours as other
clubs were permitted to do. Allowing religious clubs to meet did not
violate the Establishment Clause.
Mitchell v. Helms (2000)
federal government could provide computer equipment to all
schools—public, private and parochial—under the Elementary and
Secondary Education Act. The aid was religiously neutral and did not
violate the Establishment Clause.
Zelman v. Simmons-Harris (2002)
government program providing tuition vouchers for Cleveland
schoolchildren to attend a private school of their parents’ choosing
was upheld. The vouchers were neutral towards religion and did not
violate the Establishment Clause.
Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow (2004)
father challenged the constitutionality of requiring public school
teachers to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, which has included the
phrase “under God” since 1954. The Court determined that Mr. Newdow, as
a non-custodial parent, did not have standing to bring the case to
court and therefore did not answer the constitutional question.
Van Orden v. Perry (2005)
six-foot monument displaying the Ten Commandments donated by a private
group and placed with other monuments next to the Texas State Capitol
had a secular purpose and would not lead an observer to conclude that
the state endorsed the religious message, and therefore did not violate
the Establishment Clause.
McCreary County v. ACLU (2005)
large, framed copies of the Ten Commandments in Kentucky courthouses
lacked a secular purpose and were not religiously neutral, and
therefore violated the Establishment Clause.
RELIGIOUS LIBERTY: FREE EXERCISE CLAUSE
Reynolds v. United States (1879)
A federal law banning polygamy was upheld. The Free Exercise Clause
forbids government from regulating belief, but does allow government to
regulate actions such as marriage.
Minersville v. Gobitas (1940)
The Court upheld a Pennsylvania flag-salute law, because “religious
liberty must give way to political authority.” This was reversed in West Virginia v. Barnette (1943).
Cantwell v. Connecticut (1940)
States could not require special permits for religious solicitation
when permits were not required for non-religious solicitation. The
Court began applying the Free Exercise Clause to the states and
recognized an absolute freedom of belief.
Braunfeld v. Brown (1961)
The Court upheld a Pennsylvania law requiring stores to be closed on
Sundays, even though Orthodox Jews claimed the law unduly burdened them
since their religion required them to close their stores on Saturdays
as well. The Court held that the law did not target Jews specifically
as a group.
Sherbert v. Verner (1963)
The Court ruled that states could not deny unemployment benefits to a
person for turning down a job because it required him/her to work on
the Sabbath. Requiring a person to abandon their religious convictions
in order to receive benefits was a violation of the Free Exercise
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
The Court ruled that Amish adolescents could be exempt from a state law
requiring school attendance for all 14- to 16-year-olds, since their
religion required living apart from the world and worldly influence.
The state’s interest in students’ attending two more years of school
was not enough to outweigh the individual right to free exercise.
McDaniel v. Paty (1978)
A Tennessee law barring members of the clergy from public office was
overturned because it directly targeted people because of their
Thornton v. Caldor (1985)
Private companies are free to fire people who refuse to work on any day
they claim is their Sabbath, because the First Amendment applies only
to government, not to private employers
Goldman v. Weinberger (1986)
Air Force penalties against a Jewish chaplain who wore a yarmulke
(skull cap) on duty in defiance of regulations were upheld. The
military’s interest in uniformity outweighed the individual right to
Employment Division v. Smith (1990)
Oregon could deny unemployment benefits to someone fired from a job for
illegally smoking peyote during a religious ceremony. The Free Exercise
Clause does not excuse people from obeying the law.
Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah (1993)
Locke v. Davey (2004)
Laws passed by four Florida cities banning animal sacrifice were
targeted at the Santeria religion, which employs animal sacrifice in
prayer, and therefore the laws were unconstitutional.
could refuse to award scholarship funds to college students pursuing
divinity degrees in preparation for the ministry. The denial of
government funding for religious instruction was not a violation of
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: GENERAL
Schenck v. United States (1919)
of speech can be limited during wartime. The government can restrict
expressions that “would create a clear and present danger that they
will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to
Abrams v. United States (1919)
First Amendment did not protect printing leaflets urging to resist the
war effort, calling for a general strike and advocating violent
Debs v. United States (1919)
The First Amendment did not protect an anti-war speech designed to obstruct recruiting.
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
The Supreme Court applied protection of free speech to the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)
First Amendment did not protect “fighting words” which, by being said,
cause injury or cause an immediate breach of the peace.
West Virginia v. Barnette (1943)
West Virginia Board’s policy requiring students and teachers to recite
the Pledge of Allegiance was unconstitutional. Reversing Minersville v. Gobitas (1940), the Court held government cannot “force citizens to confess by word or act their faith” in matters of opinion.
United States v. O’Brien (1968)
The First Amendment did not protect burning draft cards in protest of the Vietnam War as a form of symbolic speech.
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
Court ruled that students wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam
War was “pure speech,” or symbolic speech protected by the First
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Supreme Court held that the First and Fourteenth Amendments protected
speech advocating violence at a Ku Klux Klan rally because the speech
did not call for “imminent lawless action.”
Cohen v. California(1971)
A California statute prohibiting the display of offensive messages violated freedom of expression.
Miller v. California (1973)
case set forth rules for obscenity prosecutions, but it also gave
states and localities flexibility in determining what is obscene.
Island Trees School District v. Pico (1982)
Supreme Court ruled that officials could not remove books from school
libraries because they disagreed with the content of the books’
Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)
school could suspend a pupil for giving a student government nomination
speech full of “elaborate, graphic, and explicit sexual metaphor.”
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Flag burning as political protest is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.
R.A.V. v. St. Paul(1992)
criminal ordinance prohibiting the display of symbols that “arouse
anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color,
creed, religion or gender” was unconstitutional. The law violated the
First Amendment because it punished speech based on the ideas expressed.
Reno v. ACLU (1997)
1996 Communications Decency Act was ruled unconstitutional since it was
overly broad and vague in its regulation of speech on the Internet, and
since it attempted to regulate indecent speech, which the First
Watchtower Bible and Tract Society v. Stratton (2002)
laws requiring permits for political advocates going door to door were
unconstitutional because such a mandate would have a “chilling effect”
on political communication.
United States v. American Library Association (2003)
federal government could require public libraries to use
Internet-filtering software to prevent viewing of pornography by
minors. The burden placed on adult patrons who had to request the
filters be disabled was minimal.
Virginia v. Hicks (2003)
could ban non-residents from public housing complexes if the
non-residents did not have “a legitimate business or social purpose”
for being there. The trespass policy was not overbroad and did not
infringe upon First Amendment rights.
Virginia v. Black (2003)
blanket ban on cross-burning was an unconstitutional content-based
restriction on free speech. States could ban cross burning with intent
to intimidate, but the cross burning act alone was not enough evidence
to infer intent.
Ashcroft v. ACLU (2004)
Child On-Line Protection Act violated the First Amendment because it
was overbroad, it resulted in content-based restrictions on speech, and
there were less-restrictive options available to protect children from
FREEDOM OF SPEECH: CAMPAIGN FINANCE
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Colorado Republican Federal Campaign Committee v. FEC (1996)
restrictions” on individual, corporate and group contributions to
candidates were allowed; limits on campaign expenditures were
unconstitutional since these placed “substantial and direct
restrictions” on protected political expression.
Court ruled that campaign spending by political parties on behalf of
congressional candidates could not be limited as long as the parties
work independently of the candidates.
McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)
on “soft-money” contributions and political advertisements were
acceptable infringements of free speech because of the government’s
interest in preventing corruption or the appearance of corruption in
Virginia Board of Pharmacy v. Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (1976)
A pharmacy had the First Amendment right to advertise prices.
Linmark v. Willingboro (1977)
A town prohibition on “For Sale” and “Sold” signs was unconstitutional.
The ban was unreasonable restriction on the flow of commercial
United States v. United Foods (2001)
law forcing cooperatives of mushroom growers to pay advertising fees
was “contrary to First Amendment principles” as a form of compelled
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS
Rex v. Zenger (1735)
colony of New York tried publisher John Peter Zenger for seditious
libel against the governor. At that time, truth was not a defense in a
libel case. Zenger’s attorney told the jury of their power and duty to
judge the law as well as the facts, and the jury acquitted Zenger.
Though not a Supreme Court case, this is a landmark freedom of the
People v. Croswell (1804)
Croswell was convicted of libel for printing a story critical of
President Thomas Jefferson in his newspaper. Alexander Hamilton
represented Croswell on appeal and argued that truth should be a
defense for libel. Croswell’s conviction was upheld, but the case led
New York to change its law to permit truth as a defense. Though not a
Supreme Court case, this is a landmark freedom of the press case.
Near v. Minnesota (1931)
state law allowing prior restraint was unconstitutional. This decision
also extended protection of press freedom to the states through the
New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)
The First Amendment protected all statements about public officials unless the speaker lied with the intent to defame.
Garrison v. Louisiana (1964)
Louisiana law that punished true statements made with “actual malice”
was overturned. The Court ruled that unless a newspaper shows “reckless
disregard for the truth,” it is protected under the First Amendment.
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts and AP v. Walker (1967)
“public figure” who is not a public official may recover damages for a
defamatory falsehood what harms his or her reputation, if the
newspaper’s actions were an “extreme departure” of the standards of
New York Times v. United States (1971)
claimed threat to national security was not justification for prior
restraint on publication of classified documents (the Pentagon Papers)
about the Vietnam War.
Nebraska Press Association v. Stuart (1976)
judge’s order that the media not publish or broadcast statements by
police in a murder trial was an unconstitutional prior restraint. The
gag order violated the First Amendment rights of the press and the
Zacchini v. Scripps-Howard Broadcasting (1977)
The Court ruled that the First Amendment does not give a television
station to right to air the entire act of a performance without the
Hustler v. Falwell (1988)
Hazelwood School District v. Kuhlmeier (1988)
The First Amendment prohibits public figures from recovering damages
for intentional infliction of emotional harm unless the publication
contained a false statement made with actual malice.
Public school officials can censor school-sponsored newspapers, because
the newspapers are part of the school curriculum rather than a forum
for public expression.
FREEDOM OF ASSEMBLY/ASSOCIATION
Dejonge v. Oregon (1937)
Federal protection of the right of peaceful assembly for lawful discussion was extended to the states.
NAACP v. Alabama (1958)
Alabama law requiring associations to disclose their membership lists
was struck down. This requirement would suppress legal association
among the group’s members.
Edwards v. South Carolina (1963)
convictions of students arrested for peaceful demonstrations against
segregation were overturned because the state could not “make criminal
the peaceful expression of unpopular views.”
Lloyd Corporation v. Tanner (1972)
mall owners may prohibit demonstrators from assembling in their private
malls since the First Amendment applies to public, not private
Village of Skokie vs. National Socialist Party (1978)
The National Socialist (Nazi) Party could not be prohibited from marching peacefully because of the content of their message.
Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte (1987)
state law requiring Rotary Clubs to admit women was constitutional.
Because women members would not prevent the group from accomplishing
its goals, the Court held that the state’s compelling interest in
ending sexual discrimination outweighed the infringement on the group’s
right of association.
Madsen v. Women’s Health Clinic (1994)
restrictions on protesters at a Florida abortion clinic, including
limits on noise amplification and a required buffer zone, did not
violate the First Amendment. The restrictions that “burden[ed] no more
speech than necessary” to protect access to the clinic and ensure
orderly traffic flow on the street were upheld. The restrictions that
burdened “more speech than necessary” and were struck down.
Hurley v. Irish American GLIB Association (1995)
Forcing a privately-organized parade to include homosexual and bisexual
groups would be a form of coerced speech and violated the organizers’
First Amendment rights.
Schenck v. Pro-Choice Network of Western New York (1997)
”Fixed buffers” around abortion clinics were constitutional since they
protected the government’s interest in protecting private property and
preventing illegal activity. A fifteen-foot “floating buffer” around
patients leaving or entering an abortion clinic was struck down as an
infringement of the protestors’ First Amendment rights.
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)
Forcing the Boy Scouts to admit a gay scout leader would violate the
private organization’s rights to freedom of association and expressive
Holy fuck, you're right, the rights outlined in the Bill of Rights are simple and easy to interpret.
The US today functions on laws and court decisions that have come up that challenge the Bill of Rights and Constitution because those documents can never fully explain everything the writers had in mind. Some of their ideas were great, sure, but others, like black people being 3/5ths of a person, are fucking terrible. If you take these documents at full face value with no sway given to current issues and perspectives, you're a nostalgic, yet idiotic individual.