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Personal Liberty

The extent and limits of personal liberty have often been argued in front of the Supreme Court. Check out these important cases where the court took up this important issue.

Kent v. Dulles (1958)

The Court ruled that “freedom to travel is, indeed, an important aspect of the citizen’s ‘liberty.’ ” Read More.

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

In stating a “right to privacy,” the Court determined that a married couple’s decision to use birth control was a personal decision and not subject to government regulation. Read More.

Loving v. Virginia (1967)

Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law banning inter-racial marriages was declared an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause because it had no legitimate purpose “independent of invidious racial discrimination.” Read More.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

The Court found that “the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision.” Read More.

Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)

The Court found no right to engage in homosexual activities in the Constitution. Read More.

Rotary International v. Rotary Club of Duarte (1987)

California state law requiring Rotary Clubs to admit women to membership is constitutional and does not violate “expressive association.” Any small infringement of members’ rights is “justified by the State’s compelling interest in eliminating discrimination against women and assuring them equal access to public accommodations.” Read More.

Washington v. Glucksberg (1997)

The Court held that the right to physician-assisted suicide did not exist in the Constitution and that state prohibitions were constitutional. Read More.

Stenberg v. Carhart (1999)

A Nebraska law prohibited “partial birth abortion” except where the procedure was necessary to save the life of the mother. The Supreme Court found this law to be unconstitutional because it violated a person’s right to privacy. More specifically, the Court used the “undue burden” test to strike down the legislation. They concluded that this legislation placed a substantial “undue burden” in the path of women seeking an abortion which was protected by an individual’s right to privacy. Read More.

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)

Forcing the Boy Scouts to admit a homosexual as a scout leader would violate the private organization’s right of freedom of association. Forced inclusion of an unwanted person infringes on the group’s rights if that person’s presence affects the group’s ability to advocate its viewpoints; this is a right of “expressive association.” Read More.

Owasso Independent School District v. Falvo (2001)

Peer grading of student papers was upheld by the Court as this does not violate the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Read More.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

The Court ruled that Texas’ anti-sodomy law “furthers no legitimate state interest which can justify its intrusion into the personal and private life of the individual,” and this law is unconstitutional because it violates the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Read More.

Sell v. United States (2003)

Forced medication of a mentally incompetent defendant is constitutionally acceptable when the courts follow specific guiding principles in order to have him participate in his trial. Read More.

Smith v. Doe (2003)

The Court upheld Alaska’s Sex Offender Registration Act as a civil sanction in the interest of public safety; therefore, the enforcement of the law does not violate the Ex Post Facto clause of the Constitution. Read More.

Gonzales v. Carhart (2007)

A federal law banning late-term abortion procedure, partial birth abortion, was upheld. The law was not unconstitutionally vague, and did not impose an undue burden on mothers. Further, because Congress had determined that the procedure was never medically necessary, and an exception for the health of the mother was not needed. This decision overturned the holding of Stenberg v Carhart (1999). Read More.

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