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Oh noes! US Supreme Court decision meme

liz_marcs provides us with the following neat meme: In an upcoming interview with Katie Couric to be aired this week, Sarah Palin is unable to name any Supreme Court Case other than Roe v. Wade.

The Rules: Post info about ONE Supreme Court decision, modern or historic, to your lj. (Any decision, as long as it's not Roe v. Wade.)


I pick Marbury vs Madison, the 1803 case that established the concept of judicial review in the US. That is, it was the first time the Supreme Court declared a US law unconsitutional. The decision contains the court's reasoning for why they have that power, despite the lack of explicit language in the Constitution granting them such power.

The wikipedia article is informative about the tangled background of the case, which is all about midnight appointments and political manuevering. You can read Chief Justice Marshall's opinion online. It's surprisingly clear language, and his reasoning feels inescapable:
The judicial power of the United States is extended to all cases arising under the constitution. Could it be the intention of those who gave this power, to say that, in using it, the constitution should not be looked into? That a case arising under the constitution should be decided without examining the instrument under which it arises? This is too extravagant to be maintained.
I love this decision because it's sort of a meta-decision: this one gives the SC the power to make so many of their other famous decisions. For instance, the next time the court struck down a federal statute was the Dred Scott case. That's another one Palin might have heard of if she'd been to the same ninth-grade civics class I was in.
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Agggghhhh! Do you know how many papers I had to write on that in High School?

Personally, I would suggest Brown vs. the Board of Education just for spite since I've a sneaking suspicion Palin doesn't appreciate that particular ruling.
Don't know what Palin herself thinks about that. It's probably one of the decisions the Right is referring to, not-very-secretly, when it fulminates about the "activist" liberal court and all the dreadful things it's done.
Since nemaihne has chosen Brown vs. Board Education, I'm suggesting Schechter Poultry Corp vs. United States in 1935.
I've learned about it when I was studying the New Deal and the surname "Sick chicken case" kinda stuck. It is an interesting case due to the context (Great Depression, NIRA)and because Roosevelt crossed the line between the executive and the judicial branches.
If I remember my lessons well, it also was a turning-point in politics and caused a polarization of the political field.
Wow, interesting case! And an example of how the US Supreme Court has changed. That narrow reading of the commerce clause is way way way old-fashioned, and that clause is used as an excuse by the feds to regulate just about everything. Overall part of the trend to move power away from the states and to the federal gov't.