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Coates v. City of Cincinnati: Prohibiting “Annoying” Speech (05/01/1971)

Coates v. City of Cincinnati

Can laws prohibit annoying speech? 

Argued: 01/11/1971

Decision Date: 05/01/1971

Decision Record: 5-4; no

Justices in Favor: William Douglas, John Harlan, William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Thurgood Marshall

Justices Dissenting: Warren Burger, Hugo Black, Byron White, Harry Blackmun

Effect of the Decision

This case ruled that no laws can prohibit speeches such as annoying speeches because it violates the First Amendment.

In Favor

In the favoring side of this case, on the side of the Coates, attorney Robert R. Lavercombe argued, “This appeal concerns a Cincinnati ordinance which is called the loitering ordinance, but which is really more an unlawful assembly type piece of legislation.

The ordinance provides that when in the company of two or more other people, one so conducts himself as to annoy persons passing by, a crime is committed, unless that conduct takes place at the public meeting of citizens, in which case, it is not crime.

Hamilton County, Ohio includes Cincinnati and the number of other municipalities and several of them have also had ordinances using similar language.

In the 1940, the common police court for Hamilton County which has county wide jurisdiction held that the language used made the legislation unconstitutional.

All over Ohio, the courts reached the same conclusion through the years and in 1968, the appeals court for the Cleveland area wrote in detail at length and with emphasis how the lack of ascertainable standards made the annoyance test in the Cleveland ordinance cause it to represent an unconstitutional exercise of the police power, and it was therefore void for vagueness.

That opinion is quoted at length at pages 5 and 6 in our jurisdictional statement and was written by the same judge who in 1970, he wrote so strongly to the opposite effect in a 4 to 3 decision of the Ohio Supreme Court in this case of Coates versus Cincinnati.

But at least between 1940 and 1968, the annoyance test was considered to be void for vagueness.

Indeed in 1962, the Supreme Court of Ohio held that a dog barking ordinance which used the annoyance test was void for vagueness.

But in 1967 during the summer, Cincinnati along with many other areas had racial disturbances, and the police and perhaps more significantly, other city officials frequently found themselves irritated or provoked, annoyed by the conduct of those who complained and those who disturbed.

And members of the city Government including police were not able to charge many of those who irritated them with trespass or assault and battery or profanity or disorderly conduct.

So the officials and the police who were beset by annoyance which Webster’s collegiate dictionary in the 7th Edition defines as a wearing on the nerves by persistent petty unpleasantness, they arrested those who provoke them and hold them away and that ended the annoyance for a very short time, because that use of that legislative language making annoyance a crime, directly results in contempt for our system of law and order, or I think more properly law and order with the justice.”


In the opposition, on the side of the city of Cincinnati, attorney A. David Nichols argued, “The failure of the appellant here to present facts has been a problem for us as well in this matter, and with the permission of the Court very briefly, the broad statement that Mr. Lavercombe made with regard to the activity involved, is correct.

What happened was on December 7, 1967 with regard to the defendant Coates, he and several confederates gathered outside the United States Federal Building in Downtown, Cincinnati, which is directly across Main Street from the post office and courthouse.

And there Coates and his confederates where demonstrating against the Vietnamese war and the selective service system.”


On the side of the majority, Justice Potter Stewart wrote the opinion for the court. He wrote, “And such a prohibition, in addition, contains an obvious invitation to discriminatory enforcement against those whose association together is ‘annoying’ because their ideas, their lifestyle, or their physical appearance is resented by the majority of their fellow citizens.

The ordinance before us makes a crime out of what under the Constitution cannot be a crime. It is aimed directly at activity protected by the Constitution. We need not lament that we do not have before us the details of the conduct found to be annoying. It is the ordinance on its face that sets the standard of conduct and warns against transgression. The details of the offense could no more serve to validate this ordinance than could the details of an offense charged under an ordinance suspending unconditionally the right of assembly and free speech.”

On the other hand, the minority opinion was written by Justice Byron White. He wrote, “In the case before us, I would deal with the Cincinnati ordinance as we would with the ordinary criminal statute. The ordinance clearly reaches certain conduct but may be illegally vague with respect to other conduct. The statute is not infirm on its face and since we have no information from this record as to what conduct was charged against these defendants, we are in no position to judge the statute as applied. That the ordinance may confer wide discretion in a wide range of circumstances is irrelevant when we may be dealing with conduct at its core.”

My Opinion:

In this case, I agree with the majority decision. The word “annoying” is extremely vague and everyone has a different perspective on everything. Therefore, a law prohibiting “annoying” speech would be unconstitutional because of everyone’s different points of view. If one goes out protesting about something they feel extremely strong about and some other people find that “annoying,” the law banning “annoying” speeches would practically be violating that person’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression.

*Justice Leaning L=Left, LC=Left of Center, C=Center, RC=Right of Center, R=Right

Reno v. Condon: Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 (12/12/2000)

Reno v. Condon

Does the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 violate the constitutional principles of federalism?

Argued: 11/10/1999

Decision Date: 12/12/2000

Decision Record: 9-0; no

Justices Majority: William Rehnquist, John Paul Stevens, Sandra Day O’Connor, Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, David Souter, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer

Justices Dissenting: None

For Reno

Effect of the Decision

The court ruled Congress had the right to enact the DPPA under the Commerce Clause.

In Favor

In the favoring side of this case, on the side of Reno, attorney Seth P. Waxman argued, “We live in an age in which data bases of personal information are widely used in the national economy.

They are bought and sold, and they’re critical to national marketing, yet their dissemination threatens personal privacy and sometimes safety.

The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act is one of a series of laws in which Congress has balanced the benefits to commerce of disseminating personal information against the costs of that dissemination to personal security.

Beginning with the Privacy Act and the Fair Credit Reporting Act in the early 1970’s, up until the Financial Services Act that was enacted just last week, Congress has acted on a sector by sector basis as new uses of personal data and new threats emerge.

In this case, Congress heard testimony that, while motor vehicle data bases are of particular value in commerce, their dissemination poses unique risks to personal safety and privacy.

Once disseminated, motor vehicle data bases are things in commerce, just as surely as are data bases that belong to financial institutions, cable operators, health care providers, and Congress may therefore regulate a State’s discharge of data into the national economy just as it restricts a State discharge of pollutants or other State activities that have a substantial effect on interstate commerce, like operating airports, or issuing municipal bonds.”


In the opposition, on the side of Condon, Charles Condon argued, “We are for protecting privacy, and this case is not about preventing the horrible crime of stalking.

We’re against stalking.

The issue in this case is whether thousands of State officials across the country can be pressed into Federal service by the Congress to administer a Federal regulatory act.

I think if I could answer Justice Kennedy’s question, which I think goes to the heart of this case, the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act is complex, it’s burdensome, it has all these exceptions, 14 exceptions, and it applies only to the States of the United States, and to follow this Federal mandate, which is unfunded, by the way, State officials must first look at it, interpret it, and then apply it to this…”


The decision of this case was unanimous. Justice William Rehnquist wrote the opinion for the court. He wrote, “We agree with South Carolina’s assertion that the DPPA’s provisions will require time and effort on the part of state employees, but reject the State’s argument that the DPPA violates the principles laid down in either New York or Printz. We think, instead, that this case is governed by our decision in South Carolina v. Baker485 U.S. 505 (1988). In Baker, we upheld a statute that prohibited States from issuing unregistered bonds because the law “regulate[d] state activities,” rather than “seek[ing] to control or influence the manner in which States regulate private parties.” Id., at 514—515. We further noted:

“The NGA [National Governor’s Association] nonetheless contends that §310 has commandeered the state legislative and administrative process because many state legislatures had to amend a substantial number of statutes in order to issue bonds in registered form and because state officials had to devote substantial effort to determine how best to implement a registered bond system. Such ‘commandeering’ is, however, an inevitable consequence of regulating a state activity. Any federal regulation demands compliance. That a State wishing to engage in certain activity must take administrative and sometimes legislative action to comply with federal standards regulating that activity is a commonplace that presents no constitutional defect.” Ibid.

    Like the statute at issue in Baker, the DPPA does not require the States in their sovereign capacity to regulate their own citizens. The DPPA regulates the States as the owners of databases. It does not require the South Carolina Legislature to enact any laws or regulations, and it does not require state officials to assist in the enforcement of federal statutes regulating private individuals. We accordingly conclude that the DPPA is consistent with the constitutional principles enunciated in New York and Printz.

    As a final matter, we turn to South Carolina’s argument that the DPPA is unconstitutional because it regulates the States exclusively. The essence of South Carolina’s argument is that Congress may only regulate the States by means of “generally applicable” laws, or laws that apply to individuals as well as States. But we need not address the question whether general applicability is a constitutional requirement for federal regulation of the States, because the DPPA is generally applicable. The DPPA regulates the universe of entities that participate as suppliers to the market for motor vehicle information–the States as initial suppliers of the information in interstate commerce and private resellers or redisclosers of that information in commerce.”

My Opinion:

In this case, I agree with the rest of the court. Congress had full right to implement the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act. This act protects the privacy of the citizens and keeps states from legally being able to sell information. It doesn’t violate the Tenth or Eleventh Amendments. The Commerce Clause gives Congress permission to enforce acts such as the DPPA.

*Justice Leaning L=Left, LC=Left of Center, C=Center, RC=Right of Center, R=Right

Kent v. United States: Juvenile Court Waiver of Jurisdiction (03/21/1966)

Kent v. United States

Was the juvenile court’s waiver of jurisdiction valid?

Argued: 01/19/1966

Decision Date: 03/21/1966

Decision Record: 5-4; no

Justices in Favor: Earl Warren, William Douglas, Tom Clark, William Brennan, Abe Fortas

Justices Dissenting: Hugo Black, John Harlan, Potter Stewart, Byron White

Effect of the Decision

This case ruled that Kent’s waiver of jurisdiction was invalid.

In Favor

In the favoring side of this case, on the side of the Kent, attorney Myron G. Ehrlich argued, “This case is here on certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for District of Columbia Circuit.

I was assigned by the United States Court of Appeals to prefect the petitioner’s appeal from the District Court to that Court.

Mr. Arens represented the petitioner in the Juvenile Court.

I am here just as a public service representing an indigent without compensation and so is Mr. Arens who joined me in this petition for writ of certiorari.

The facts in this case if the Court pleases are that on — on or about September 5, 1961, the accused in this case was arrested by officers of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia and he at that time have been a ward of the Juvenile Court for some two years.

It appears from the record that he was arrested because two years prior to that time, the police department had taken him without authority of the Juvenile Court to the police department and there had him fingerprinted at the time when he was 14 years of age and they discovered some fingerprints in the areas of these houses in which the accused allegedly broke in when he was 16 years old and they finally discovered that this 16-year-old boy was the boy whose his fingerprints were in the vicinity of two or three of these areas together with other fingerprints.

After they arrested him in this case, they questioned him for some four or five days, as I read the record, and on the second day of his arrest, his mother retained or asked Mr. Arens to come into Court and to represent the indigent accused who was then 16 years old.”


In the opposition, on the side of the United States, attorney Theodore George Gilinsky, “The principal question which we feel is in this case whether constitutionally it was necessary to hold an adversary formal oral hearing or for that matter any kind of hearing at the Juvenile Court level under the particular facts to decide whether the Social Service facilities of the Juvenile Court were applicable to this particular defendant.

Cases called Black as he said was handed down in December, as I read the case, it holds that a juvenile, in Juvenile Court prior to waiver is entitled to a lawyer.

It does not decide that he is entitled to a hearing.

It does not decide that he’s entitled to see the social records.

And for very good reason, because this boy, Black, did not have a lawyer.

Because that’s why they point in Black to what happened in Kent.

They say, “Now, look what a lawyer can do for you.”

In Kent, the lawyer did supply, did supply the Juvenile Court with a memorandum and some information as to his mental status.

So that — to say that the lawyer was useless, you see, Black says, “No, of course it wasn’t useless.

Look at Kent.”

But on the basis of that, I say there is no conflict in these decisions.”


On the majority side, also the affirming side, Justice Abe Fortas wrote the opinion. He wrote, “Ordinarily, we would reverse the Court of Appeals and direct the District Court to remand the case to the Juvenile Court for a new determination of waiver. If, on remand, the decision were against waiver, the indictment in the District Court would be dismissed. See Black v. United States, supra. However, petitioner has now passed the age of 21, and the Juvenile Court can no longer exercise jurisdiction over him. In view of the unavailability of a redetermination of the waiver question by the Juvenile Court, it is urged by petitioner that the conviction should be vacated and the indictment dismissed. In the circumstances of this case, and in light of the remedy which the Court of Appeals fashioned in Black, supra, we do not consider it appropriate to grant this drastic relief.[n33] Accordingly, we vacate the order of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the District Court and remand the case to the District Court for a hearing de novo on waiver, consistent with this opinion.[n34] If that court finds that waiver was inappropriate, petitioner’s conviction must be vacated. If, however, it finds that the waiver order was proper when originally made, the District Court may proceed, after consideration of such motions as counsel may make and such further proceedings, if any, as may be warranted, to enter an appropriate judgment.”

In the side of the opposition, Justice Stewart wrote the opinion. He wrote, “This case involves the construction of a statute applicable only to the District of Columbia. Our general practice is to leave undisturbed decisions of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit concerning the import of legislation governing the affairs of the District.General Motors Corp. v. District of Columbia,380 U.S. 553, 556. It appears, however, that two cases decided by the Court of Appeals subsequent to its decision in the present case may have considerably modified the court’s construction of the statute. Therefore, I would vacate this judgment and remand the case to the Court of Appeals for reconsideration in the light of its subsequent decisions, Watkins v. United States, 119 U.S.App.D.C. 409, 343 F.2d 278, and Black v. United States, 122 U.S.App.D.C. 393, 355 F.2d 104.”

My Opinion:

In this case, I agree with the majority. According to the the Juvenile Court Act, a proper investigation must be performed in order for a juvenile court’s waiver of jurisdiction to be ordered. However, this was not the case. Kent did not receive access to a hearing, access to counsel or to his record prior to the waiver. This definitely does not justify a juvenile court’s waiver of jurisdiction to be ordered.

*Justice Leaning L=Left, LC=Left of Center, C=Center, RC=Right of Center, R=Right


Dred Scott v. Sandford (Updated): Residence on “Free Soil” (03/06/1857)

Dred Scott v. Sandford (Updated)

Was Dred Scott a free slave?

Argued: 02/10/1856; 02/11/1856; 02/12/1856; 02/13/1856; 12/14/1856; 12/15/1856; 12/16/1856; 12/17/1856

Decision Date: 03/06/1857

Decision Record: 7-2; no

Justices Majority: Roger Taney, James Wayne, John Catron, Peter Daniel, Samuel Nelson, Robert Grier, John Campbell

Justices Dissenting: John McLean, Benjamin Curtis

Effect of the Decision

This case upheld three rulings. First, Scott was still an enslaved person without any citizen rights, including filing a lawsuit, regardless of how long he lived on “free soil” with his previous owner. Second, a slave could not be taken away from a person, for they are still considered property. That would be deemed a violation of the Fifth Amendment, which states that property could not be taken away without “due process of law.” Finally, Congress had no right to legally ban slavery in any territory and the Missouri Compromise, which helped preserve the balance of slave and free states, was unconstitutional.

In Favor

Dred Scott was represented by attorneys Montgomery Blair and George Ticknor Curtis.


Then in opposition, Sandford was represented by attorney Henry S. Geyer.


The majority opinion slip was written by Justice Roger Taney. He wrote, “Our notice of this part of the case will be very brief, for the principle on which it depends was decided in this court, upon much consideration, in the case of Strader et al. v. Graham, reported in 10th Howard 82. In that case, the slaves had been taken from Kentucky to Ohio, with the consent of the owner, and afterwards brought back to Kentucky. And this court held that their status or condition as free or slave depended upon the laws of Kentucky when they were brought back into that State, and not of Ohio, and that this court had no jurisdiction to revise the judgment of a State court upon its own laws. This was the point directly before the court, and the decision that this court had not jurisdiction turned upon it, as will be seen by the report of the case.

So in this case. As Scott was a slave when taken into the State of Illinois by his owner, and was there held as such, and brought back in that character, his status as free or slave depended on the laws of Missouri, and not of Illinois.

It has, however, been urged in the argument that, by the laws of Missouri, he was free on his return, and that this case therefore cannot be governed by the case of Strader et al. v. Graham, where it appeared, by the laws of Kentucky, that the plaintiffs continued to be slaves on their return from Ohio. But whatever doubts or opinions may at one time have been entertained upon this subject, we are satisfied, upon a careful examination of all the cases decided in the State courts of Missouri referred to, that it is now firmly settled by the decisions of the highest court in the State that Scott and his family upon their return were not free, but were, by the laws of Missouri, the property of the defendant, and that the Circuit Court of the United States had no jurisdiction when, by the laws of the State, the plaintiff was a slave and not a citizen.

Moreover, the plaintiff, it appears, brought a similar action against the defendant in the State court of Missouri, claiming the freedom of himself and his family upon the same grounds and the same evidence upon which he relies in the case before the court. The case was carried before the Supreme Court of the State, was fully argued there, and that court decided that neither the plaintiff nor his family were entitled to freedom, and were still the slaves of the defendant, and reversed the judgment of the inferior State court, which had given a different decision. If the plaintiff supposed that this judgment of the Supreme Court of the State was erroneous, and that this court had jurisdiction to revise and reverse it, the only mode by which he could legally bring it before this court was by writ of error directed to the Supreme Court of the State, requiring it to transmit the record to this court. If this had been done, it is too plain for argument that the writ must have been dismissed for want of jurisdiction in this court. The case of Strader and others v. Graham is directly in point, and, indeed, independent of any decision, the language of the 25th section of the act of 1789 is too clear and precise to admit of controversy.

But the plaintiff did not pursue the mode prescribed by law for bringing the judgment of a State court before this court for revision, but suffered the case to be remanded to the inferior State court, where it is still continued, and is, by agreement of parties, to await the judgment of this court on the point. All of this appears on the record before us, and by the printed report of the case.

And while the case is yet open and pending in the inferior State court, the plaintiff goes into the Circuit Court of the United States, upon the same case and the same evidence and against the same party, and proceeds to judgment, and then brings here the same case from the Circuit Court, which the law would not have permitted him to bring directly from the State court. And if this court takes jurisdiction in this form, the result, so far as the rights of the respective parties are concerned, is in every respect substantially the same as if it had, in open violation of law, entertained jurisdiction over the judgment of the State court upon a writ of error, and revised and reversed its judgment upon the ground that its opinion upon the question of law was erroneous. It would ill become this court to sanction such an attempt to evade the law, or to exercise an appellate power in this circuitous way which it is forbidden to exercise in the direct and regular and invariable forms of judicial proceedings.

Upon the whole, therefore, it is the judgment of this court that it appears by the record before us that the plaintiff in error is not a citizen of Missouri in the sense in which that word is used in the Constitution, and that the Circuit Court of the United States, for that reason, had no jurisdiction in the case, and could give no judgment in it. Its judgment for the defendant must, consequently, be reversed, and a mandate issued directing the suit to be dismissed for want of jurisdiction.”

Then in dissent, Justice John McLean wrote, “We entertain the highest respect for that learned court (the Supreme Court of Michigan), and, in any question affecting the construction of their own laws where we entertain any doubt, would be glad to be relieved from doubt and responsibility by reposing on their decision. There are, it is true, many dicta to be found in our decisions averring that the courts of the United States are bound to follow the decisions of the State courts on the construction of their own laws. But although this may be correct, yet a rather strong expression of a general rule, it cannot be received as the annunciation of a maxim of universal application. Accordingly, our reports furnish many cases of exceptions to it. In all cases where there is a settled construction of the laws of the a State by its highest judicature established by admitted precedent, it is the practice of the courts of the United States to receive and adopt it without criticism or further inquiry. When the decisions of the State court are not consistent, we do not feel bound to follow the last if it is contrary to our own convictions, and much more is this the case where, after a long course of consistent decisions, some new light suddenly springs up, or an excited public opinion has elicited new doctrines subversive of former safe precedent.

These words, it appears to me, have a stronger application to the case before us than they had to the cause in which they were spoken as the opinion of this court, and I regret that they do not seem to be as fresh in the recollection of some of my brethren as in my own. For twenty-eight years, the decisions of the Supreme Court of Missouri were consistent on all the points made in this case. But this consistent course was suddenly terminated, whether by some new light suddenly springing up, or an excited public opinion, or both, it is not necessary to say. In the case of Scott v. Emerson, in 1852, they were overturned and repudiated.

This, then, is the very case in which seven of my brethren declared they would not follow the last decision. On this authority I may well repose. I can desire no other or better basis.

But there is another ground which I deem conclusive, and which I will restate.

The Supreme Court of Missouri refused to notice the act of Congress or the Constitution of Illinois under which Dred Scott, his wife, and children claimed that they are entitled to freedom.

This being rejected by the Missouri court, there was no case before it, or least it was a case with only one side. And this is the case which, in the opinion of this court, we are bound to follow. The Missouri court disregards the express provisions of an act of Congress and the Constitution of a sovereign State, both of which laws for twenty-eight years it had not only regarded, but carried into effect.

If a State court may do this, on a question involving the liberty of a human being, what protection do the laws afford? So far from this being a Missouri question, it is a question, as it would seem, within the twenty-fifth section of the Judiciary Act, where a right to freedom being set up under the act of Congress, and the decision being against such right, it may be brought for revision before this court, from the Supreme Court of Missouri.”

Also in dissent, Justice Benjamin Curtis wrote, “The case before us will illustrate the construction contended for. Dr. Emerson was a citizen of Missouri; he had an equal right to go to the Territory with every citizen of other States. This is undeniable, as I suppose. Scott was Dr. Emerson’s lawful property in Missouri; he carried his Missouri title with him, and the precise question here is whether Congress had the power to annul that title. It is idle to say that, if Congress could not defeat the title directly, that it might be done indirectly, by drawing a narrow circle around the slave population of Upper Louisiana and declaring that, if the slave went beyond it, he should be free. Such assumption is mere evasion, and entitled to no consideration. And it is equally idle to contend that, because Congress has express power to regulate commerce among the Indian tribes and to prohibit intercourse with the Indians, that therefore Dr. Emerson’s title might be defeated within the country ceded by the Indians to the United States as early as 1805, and which embraces Fort Snelling. Am.State Papers, vol. 1, p. 734. We must meet the question whether Congress had the power to declare that a citizen of a State, carrying with him his equal rights secured to him through his State, could be stripped of his goods and slaves and be deprived of any participation in the common property? If this be the true meaning of the Constitution, equality of rights to enjoy a common country (equal to a thousand miles square) may be cut off by a geographical line, and a great portion of our citizens excluded from it.

Ingenious indirect evasions of the Constitution have been attempted and defeated heretofore. In the Passenger Cases, 7 How.R., the attempt was made to impose a tax on the masters, crews, and passengers of vessels, the Constitution having prohibited a tax on the vessel itself, but this Court held the attempt to be a mere evasion, and pronounced the tax illegal.

I admit that Virginia could, and lawfully did, prohibit slavery northwest of the Ohio by her charter of cession, and that the territory was taken by the United States with this condition imposed. I also admit that France could, by the treaty of 1803, have prohibited slavery in any part of the ceded territory, and imposed it on the United States as a fundamental condition of the cession, in the meantime, till new States were admitted in the Union.

I concur with Judge Baldwin that Federal power is exercised over all the territory within the United States, pursuant to the Constitution and the conditions of the cession, whether it was a part of the original territory of a State of the Union or of a foreign State, ceded by deed or treaty, the right of the United States in or over it depends on the contract of cession, which operates to incorporate as well the Territory as its inhabitants into the Union. Baldwin’s Constitutional Views 84.

My opinion is that the third article of the treaty of 1803, ceding Louisiana to the United States, stands protected by the Constitution, and cannot be repealed by Congress.

And, secondly that the Act of 1820, known as the Missouri Compromise, violates the most leading feature of the Constitution — a feature on which the Union depends and which secures to the respective States and their citizens and entire EQUALITY of rights, privileges, and immunities.

On these grounds, I hold the compromise act to have been void, and consequently that the plaintiff, Scott, can claim no benefit under it.”

My Opinion:

In this case, I strongly disagree with the majority opinion. The African Americans should have been treated no differently than the whites. They had the right to be citizens, but they weren’t granted that right. Being a resident in a free state, means that you, yourself are free. The law in the area declares you legally free. If slavery is not permitted in that state, then no slaves exist there either. This means they are considered a human being there. They are not property that cannot be taken away without “due process of law.” Slaves had every right in court as a citizen did. You cannot possibly rule a human being as an object that can be confiscated. Congress also had the legal right to ban slavery from any territory they voted upon. That was their job. Banning slavery from a territory can’t be considered unconstitutional.

*Justice Leaning L=Left, LC=Left of Center, C=Center, RC=Right of Center, R=Right

Neil Gorsuch: Supreme Court Nomination

Born on August 29, 1967 in Denver, Colorado, Neil Gorsuch was the oldest child of his mother, Anne Gorsuch. He went on to study at multiple top universities, including Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Oxford. Gorsuch first began as a clerk for the Judge David Sentelle of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. He then continued to serve as a clerk for Justice Anthony Kennedy and retired Justice Byron White. After, in July 2006, Gorsuch was unanimously affirmed for a position on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. In that same year, he also wrote and published his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Finally, he was selected as a nominee as a US Supreme Court Justice by President Donald Trump in January and February 2017.

I support the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for multiple reasons.


Gorsuch is an originalist.

This is probably the most important factor when deciding whether he should get a spot on the Supreme Court of the United States. When contemplating a decision such as this, a question of whether or not the nominee will bring justice must be asked. Lady Justice holds a scale in her left hand and a sword in her right, with a blindfold covering her eyes. The scale symbolizes a just judicial process and that both sides of the case will be taken under consideration. The blindfold represents impartiality. The decision of the case will not be made with consideration to wealth, race, or any other status a person may hold that could potentially be seen above others. And finally, the sword signifies the power and strength of justice and that justice can also exemplify finality. Lady Justice should represent all the justices on the Supreme Court.

Unfortunately, this is not so.

The current Supreme Court justices are extremely left-leaning and unbalanced. More so now than ever especially with originalist Justice Antonin Scalia gone. This is exactly the reason Gorsuch would be the perfect successor for Scalia. We see multiple similarities between the two. Scalia was widely known for his originalist perspective on things — meaning he reasonably attempted to interpret the Constitution the way it was understood by our Founding Fathers when it was written, something we also have seen through Gorsuch in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. It is necessary that we replace the previous originalist justice with another one, to maintain balance between the justices on the Court. There’s no better person for the spot than Gorsuch. We need a textualist to properly interpret the Constitution the way it was meant to be seen. Gorsuch sees the Constitution how it is and how it’s supposed to be, rather than change its meaning and purpose, which is what the Democrats are trying to do so that the Constitution is distorted to their belief system.

“Ours is the job of interpreting the Constitution. And that document isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams.”


  • Neil Gorsuch



Gorsuch is highly intelligent, unbiased, and a strong believer in the Constitution.

It’s no secret that Gorsuch is beyond smart. Attending Columbia University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa, “the nation’s oldest academic honor society”, and earning a J. D. (Juris Doctor) from Harvard, his intelligence cannot be questioned. Not only that, he also received a Ph.D in law at Oxford University. There’s no doubt that his intellect is qualified for the Supreme Court.

Democrat, California Senator Dianne Feinstein met with Gorsuch and said the following day, “He’s a very caring person and he’s obviously legally very smart.”

She also said after, “I think we are dealing with someone who is impressive, so we’ll see.”

Gorsuch received the Edward J. Randolph Award for phenomenal service to the Department of Justice. This award was named after the first Attorney General and is the highest award for public service and leadership. Also, for superb public service in the field of law, he earned the Harry S. Truman Foundation’s Stevens Award, which is given to a Truman Scholar who has made exceptional contributions to public service.  

Gorsuch also said that “if a judge does not sometimes find himself voting or ruling against his own personal beliefs about politics or morality, that is a sure sign that he is failing to do justice according to law.”

Gorsuch wrote last year: “Often judges judge best when they judge least.” He said, “When judges defer to the executive about the law’s meaning, they are not fulfilling their duty to interpret the law.”

Judge Gorsuch claimed that a “problem for the judiciary” and “a problem for the people whose liberties may now be impaired” by “an avowedly politicized administrative agent seeking to pursue whatever policy whim may rule the day.”

Gorsuch explains that some of the judges are allowing their political beliefs erode the constitutional rights of citizens.

Denver’s attorney David Lane said, “He is a very, very smart man. His leanings are very conservative, but he’s qualified to be on the Supreme Court.”

He continued, “I don’t know that Judge Gorsuch has a political agenda and he is sincere and honest and believes what he writes.”


Gorsuch is a good writer.

This is especially important as a Supreme Court justice. A good judge must know how to properly portray his or her opinion. When writing an opinion, you must be a good writer to write a good opinion, regardless of whether people agree with it. Gorsuch meets these requirements perfectly.

In 2006, Gorsuch published a book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, expressing his opposition on assisted suicide. It’s clear that the topic was heavily researched for his book and this can also be said for the way he writes his opinions.

“All human beings are intrinsically valuable, and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”


  • Neil Gorsuch, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia



Through his published book, we can also infer his position on topics such as abortion. His strong stance on the “right to life” allows us to presume his understanding of abortion.


In Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, the Greens, a family that owned a store called “Hobby Lobby,” filed a lawsuit against the Department of Health and Human Services. The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, had requirements to do with contraceptions that went against the religious beliefs of the Greens. They refused to pay for contraceptions that aborted fertilized eggs, but were compliant to pay for contraceptions that abort implanted eggs. The insurance subjected the family to fines, so they ordered a preliminary injunction to stop the fines, but the district courts denied their request. As a result, they appealed.

In his opinion on the case Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, 2013, Gorsuch expressed his strong belief in the right to religious freedom in the First Amendment and voted in favor of the Greens.


In the case United States v. Carloss, the police entered private property with “no trespassing” signs and knocked on his door to perform a search. While Carloss eventually, let the agents in, he received a criminal conviction. Carloss appealed, arguing that his Fourth Amendment rights to “unreasonable searches and seizures” were violated. The government said that there was implied consent — “curtilage” — to search the area and two of three judges on the Tenth Circuit agreed.

Gorsuch however, dissented and argued that there was no implied consent involved on a remote and private property such as Carloss’s where there was no tresspassing signs put up. But he added that a search could have been justified under an emergency or if they had a warrant.


In Yellowbear v. Lampert, a Wyoming prisoner serving for the murder of his daughter named Andrew Yellowbear was denied permission to use the sweat lodge for his Native American religious purposes, resulting in him suing his prison. The prison claimed that the transportation was too expensive, successfully removing Yellowbear’s argument. This led to him appealing to the Tenth Circuit, who unanimously agreed with Yellowbear.

In this opinion, Gorsuch wrote that Yellowbear effectively proved that the use of the sweat lodge was, indeed, a part of his Native American culture, and the prison’s refusal to let him use the lodge was a violation of Yellowbear’s First Amendment.

[The First Amendment] “doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.”


  • Neil Gorsuch, Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius



United States v. Nixon: “Executive Privilege” (07/24/1974)

United States v. Nixon

Is the President’s right to safeguard certain information, using his “executive privilege” confidentiality power, entirely immune from judicial review?

Argued: 07/08/1974

Decision Date: 07/24/1974

Decision Record: 8-0; no

Justices in Favor: None

Justices Dissenting: Warren Burger, William Douglas, William Brennan, Potter Stewart, Byron White, Thurgood Marshall, Harry Blackmun, Lewis Powell

Justice William Rehnquist did not participate.

Effect of the Decision

This case holds that the president does not have immunity to the power of judicial review using his/her “executive privilege.”

In Favor

In representation of the United States, attorney Leon Jaworski claimed, “On March 1 last, United States District Court grand jury, set it here, returned an indictment against seven defendants charging various offenses including among them a conspiracy to defraud the United States and also to obstruct justice.

John Mitchell, one of the defendants, was a former Attorney General of the United States and also Chairman of the Committee to Reelect the President.

Another, H.R. Haldeman, was the President’s Chief of Staff.

Another, John Ehrlichman, was Assistant to the President for Economic — for Domestic Affairs.

The others were either on the President’s staff or held responsible positions on the Reelection Committee.

In the course of its deliberations, the grand jury voted unanimously with 19 members concurring that the course of events in the formation and continuation of the conspiracy was such that President Nixon, among a number of others, should be identified as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Bill, particular as to be filed in connection with the pretrial proceedings.

Now, although this particular decision and determination on the part of the grand jury occurred in February, it was a well-kept secret for two-and-a-half months.

The grand jury, of course, knew it.

The members of the prosecution staff knew it.

It was done so to avoid affecting the proceedings in a House Judiciary Committee.

It was so kept during these two-and-a-half months until it became necessary to reveal it as a result of the President’s motion to quash a subpoena, as I will indicate subsequently in my argument.

Now, to obtain addition evidence which the Special Prosecutor has good reason to believe is in the possession of and under the control of the President and which it is believed by the Special Prosecutor as quite important to the development of the government’s proof at the trial in United States versus Mitchell.

A Special Prosecutor, on behalf of the United States, moved for a subpoena duces tecum.

And, it is the subpoena here in question.

The District Court ordered the subpoena to issue returnable on May 2 and the subpoena, of course, called for the production of tape recordings in advance of September 9, 1972, which is a trial date.

And, this was done to allow time for litigation in the event litigation was to ensue over the production of the tapes and also for transcription and authentication of any tape recordings that were produced in response to the subpoena.

On April 30, the President released to the public and submitted to the House Judiciary Committee 1,216 pages of edited transcripts of 43 conversations dealing with Watergate.

Portions of 20 of the subpoenaed conversations were included among the 43.

Then, on May 1, the President advised counsel to file a special appearance, a formal claim of privilege, and a motion to quash a subpoena.

Now for the United States to conduct a full and appropriate hearing on a motion to quash the subpoena, it became necessary to reveal the grand jury’s finding regarding the President.

And, this was first done by the Special Prosecutor calling on the Chief of Staff, General Alexander Haig, and the President’s counsel, Mr. St. Claire, and advising them of what had occurred two-and-a-half months prior.

And then, on the following morning, advising Judge Rico of what had occurred in camera and pointing out at the necessity of this being used in connection with the arguments on a motion to quash because of their relevance and the necessity of these matters being made a part of the proceeding.

Now, the Special Prosecutor joined counsel for the President in urging that matter be heard in camera, which, was done.

Three of the defendants had joined the Special Prosecutor in moving for the subpoena.

All of the defendants, at the time of argument in camera to Judge Sirica, opposed the motion to quash.”

Then, also advocating for the United States, attorney Philip A. Lacovara argued, “If I may, I would like to advert first to procedural questions that Mr. Blackmun and Mr. Justice Stewart have raised about whether the mandamus case is properly here.

Mr. Justice, we did, in our certiorari petition, refer to the fact that we were trying to bring before the court for review before judgment in the Court of Appeals the order of the District Court which we said the President had tried to obtain review of in two ways in two cases in the Court of Appeals, and we gave the docket numbers of those two cases.

And, that certiorari petition was filed on May 24 and Judge Sirica, who was the respondent as Justice Stewart properly notes in the mandamus case in the Court of Appeals, was served with a copy of the certiorari petition as he had been served with the mandamus petition as, indeed, had all the respondents who were otherwise before the court, the defendants in United States against Mitchell.

On May 28 in accordance with a motion that was filed in a Court of Appeals, a copy of which I believe is in the files of this court, the Court of Appeals transmitted to this court the records in both of those cases, the appeal, and the mandamus cases.

Now, Mr. Justice Stewart, with respect to Judge Sirica’s appearance here, he is a party before this court and I believe there is a letter on file with the clerk of this court from Judge Sirica in which he states that he will not appear separately the United States through the Special Prosecutors appearing on behalf of Judge Sirica as, indeed, we would have in the Court of Appeals to uphold his decision enforcing our subpoena.

So the case, procedurally, is properly before the court both with respect to the appeal and the mandamus proceedings.”


Then in opposition, representing President Nixon, attorney James St. Clair said, “My learning brothers approached this case I think in the traditional point of view, namely, this is an attempt by a Special Prosecutor to obtain what he thinks is desirable evidence in a criminal prosecution that he has a responsibility for.

Not once, however, did I heard him mention what I think is really involved, at least in a significant part and that is the co-pendency of the impeachment proceedings before the House of Representatives.

And, the realistic fusion that has taken place with respect to these two proceedings and the promise of continued fusion, as I understand my brother’s position.”


The decision, in this case, was unanimous in the side of the United States. Written by Justice Warren Burger, the opinion slip said, “In this case, we must weigh the importance of the general privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in performance of the President’s responsibilities against the inroads of such a privilege on the fair [p712] administration of criminal justice. [n19] The interest in preserving confidentiality is weighty indeed and entitled to great respect. However, we cannot conclude that advisers will be moved to temper the candor of their remarks by the infrequent occasions of disclosure because of the possibility that such conversations will be called for in the context of a criminal prosecution. [n20]

On the other hand, the allowance of the privilege to withhold evidence that is demonstrably relevant in a criminal trial would cut deeply into the guarantee of due process of law and gravely impair the basic function of the court. A President’s acknowledged need for confidentiality [p713] in the communications of his office is general in nature, whereas the constitutional need for production of relevant evidence in a criminal proceeding is specific and central to the fair adjudication of a particular criminal case in the administration of justice. Without access to specific facts, a criminal prosecution may be totally frustrated. The President’s broad interest in confidentiality of communications will not be vitiated by disclosure of a limited number of conversations preliminarily shown to have some bearing on the pending criminal cases.

We conclude that, when the ground for asserting privilege as to subpoenaed materials sought for use in a criminal trial is based only on the generalized interest in confidentiality, it cannot prevail over the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of criminal justice. The generalized assertion of privilege must yield to the demonstrated, specific need for evidence in a pending criminal trial.”

My Opinion:

In this case, I agree with the majority decision. Nixon committed a crime, and like any criminal, he deserved to be punished. His “executive privilege” does not grant him immunity from the power of judicial review. “Executive privilege” is a power held by the president of the United States and gives him/her the “privilege” to withhold certain information to the public. However, the crime that Nixon committed did not involve any knowledge he already had; on the contrary, actually. He was attempting to gain information illegally. Therefore, his “executive privilege” was not applicable.

*Justice Leaning L=Left, LC=Left of Center, C=Center, RC=Right of Center, R=Right