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America’s Six Worst Supreme Court Rulings in History

Though the Supreme Court generally abides by the Constitution, these cases show faults in their work.

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By Jack Parkos | United States

The Supreme Court has been a heated topic in the news lately, with Justice Kennedy announcing his retirement. Now, President Trump has the job of appointing someone for this position. Hopefully, his crucial pick will defend the Constitution and its principle of liberty.

The Constitution gives the Supreme Court the power to deem laws unconstitutional. However, from time to time, justices make very serious mistakes and side against the Constitution. To understand how important President Trump’s decision is, we need to look at times when the Supreme Court got it wrong. While they have overturned some, others are still law.

1. Roe V. Wade

The very nature of abortion opposes liberty. In 1973, the Supreme Court ruled 7-2 that the 14th amendment protects the right to an abortion. Ironically, the amendment promising equal protection under the law declared that certain human lives are not equal. Furthermore, this ruling interfered with the Tenth Amendment, which guarantees states’ rights.

Clearly, the Constitution does not declare abortion a right. But with one ruling, the Supreme Court declared it so. In doing so, they interfered with the interests of states and of the Constitution itself. The document, in fact, was supposed to prevent the federal government from doing such a thing. Despite this, seven justices sworn in to protect the Constitution failed to do so. As a result, millions of innocent babies have passed away.

2. Maryland V. King

This important ruling occurred just five years ago. The Supreme Court ruled that police can take a DNA swab of someone arrested for a serious crime with no warrant. All of this may now legally occur before a jury rules that someone is guilty in court. This is clearly a violation of the Fourth Amendment’s privacy guarantee.

The court claimed this would only be necessary for violent crime. This includes murder, rape, assault, theft, and more. The key part, however, is the “more”. Government could easily declare any criminal to be violent to use this ruling and get the swab. Right now, the government says owning a marijuana plant is a crime. Is it unreasonable to think they would soon demand taking DNA of someone who hasn’t even been proven guilty of owning such a plant?

3.  Helvering v. Davis

In 1937, the Supreme Court ruled by a vote of 7-2 that the Social Security Act of 1935 did not violate the 10th Amendment. Thus, they allowed for a tax on employers to occur. But ,that was only the beginning. The Supreme Court also declared that Congress may spend money on “the general welfare”.

By doing so, they also allow Congress to interpret the general welfare clause of the Constitution. However, Congress has no constitutional right to do so. Ironically, the branch that does have such power simply ceded it to another. Allowing Congress to interpret one clause of the Constitution opens the door for them to do the same with others. This is not only a threat to our Constitution but more importantly, to our liberties.

4. Buck V. Bell

When we think of eugenics, we often think of the Nazis’ cruel policies. But did you know that there is a Supreme Court ruling that models eugenics, and that it still stands today? This is the 1927 case of Buck V. Bell. The ruling of this case, by a vote of 8-1, decided that the state could forcefully sterilize 18-year-old Carrie Buck. The court used Buck and her mother’s mental health issues as justification.

The Supreme Court rejected the idea that forced sterilization violated Bell’s 8th and 14th Amendment rights. Instead, they ruled that it was in the State’s best interest to have Bell (as well as her mother and daughter) forcefully sterilized as they were “feeble-minded”. Justice Oliver Holmes even stated that “Three generations of imbeciles are enough”. At the Nuremberg trials after World War II, Nazi eugenics doctors actually cited Holmes as evidence to their own defense. Clearly, such a practice is cruel and barbaric.

5. Dred Scott V. Sandford

The ruling of this case is often considered the worst ruling in US history, and for good reason. In it, the Supreme Court declared that African Americans, free or slave, were not American citizens and lacked constitutional rights. Many historians agree this was the worst ruling in American history. While the 14th Amendment and Civil Rights Act of 1866 gave African Americans full citizenship, it is still a shameful moment in history.

6. Korematsu v. United States

Following the attack of Peal Harbor, FDR’s Executive Order 9066 called for thousands of Japanese American citizens to be thrown in internment camps without due process. Of course, the act is in every way unconstitutional. But, with a 6-3 vote, the court declared that the “Need to protect against espionage, outweighed the rights of Americans of Japanese descent.”

This ruling allowed the state to take thousands of innocent people from their homes. FDR’s actions were blatantly tyrannical. It resembles something a dictator might do, not the leader of the free world. However, the court allowed it because of the strongest emotion known to man, fear.

In the internment camps, the state did not find a single Japanese American spy. While the court eventually overturned this ruling, it remains a constant reminder on the importance of wartime liberties.

The Future of the Supreme Court

Trump’s upcoming decision is very important. His pick will interpret the Constitution and the rights we hold. Perhaps he or she may dangerously violate the Constitution, or perhaps he or she will help overturn the stains in the court’s history. For America to thrive, he must nominate a justice who will preserve the Constitution, and protect our Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.


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  1. […] Supreme Court has a rich and controversial history. In my previous article, I discussed 6 of the worst rulings in history. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end at six cases. […]

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