On This Date in Legal History

On July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This historic civil rights legislation prohibits discrimination against those with disabilities.

George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States

George H. W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States

Watch the signing ceremony at https://goo.gl/5ZnXNf, and learn more about the Act at http://bit.ly/1eowfUy.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 25, 1965, former Associate Justice Arthur J. Goldberg retired from the United States Supreme Court.

Arthur Goldberg

Arthur Goldberg

Read a fascinating profile of the justice at https://goo.gl/fXXBpV.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court decided United States v. Nixon. President Nixon was ordered to produce the audio recordings that were relevant in the Watergate case. The Court (unanimously) rejected the President’s argument that the tapes were protected by “executive privilege”.

Warren Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Warren Burger was the 15th Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court

You can listen to the attorneys argue this case before the Supreme Court, and hear Chief Justice Warren E. Burger announce this decision, at https://goo.gl/kvDo9p.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 23, 1936, Justice Anthony Kennedy was born in Sacramento, California.

Justice Anthony Kennedy

Justice Anthony Kennedy

In November 1987 President Reagan nominated him to the United States Supreme Court. On February 3, 1988, the Senate confirmed his nomination in a vote of 97 yeas to 0 nays. Take a look at the Congressional Record from that day at http://1.usa.gov/1VBpWin.

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On This Date in Legal History

Jane Bolin was the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School.

Jane Bolin

Jane Bolin

On July 22, 1939, she also became the first African-American female judge in the United States. She was sworn in by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia of New York. New York’s next three mayors reappointed her. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1MogJqz.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 21, 1925, John T. Scopes was found guilty of violating the Butler Act by teaching evolution. He was fined $100.

Lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial.

Lawyers Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan at the Scopes trial.

Learn more about this interesting case at http://goo.gl/9EKcRe.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 20, 1990, former Associate Justice William J. Brennan retired from the Supreme Court after serving as a justice for over 33 years. On July 24, 1997, he passed away, but his legacy lives on through the 1,573 opinions he authored.

Associate Justice William J. Brennan

Associate Justice William J. Brennan

For an extremely thorough biography of Justice Brennan, and a review of his judicial decisions, read the Proceedings in the Supreme Court of the United States in Memory of Justice Brennan, dated May 22, 1998 at http://1.usa.gov/1HKJ4B4.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 19, 1848, the women’s rights movement in the United States was born. The Seneca Falls Convention began in New York State.

Women in Washington D.C. fighting for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

Women in Washington D.C. fighting for the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment

Learn more at http://1.usa.gov/1mDpETI.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 18, 1947, President Truman signed into law the Presidential Succession Act.  

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The 33rd President of the United States Harry S. Truman

The Act states if the president and vice president are unable to serve, then the presidency passes to the Speaker of the House, and then to the Senate President Pro Tempore. Learn about the Act at http://goo.gl/TdUjPZ.

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On This Date in Legal History

On June 17, 1963, the United States Supreme Court decided School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp. That case dealt with prayer in the public schools.  Under Pennsylvania law, at the beginning of each public school day, at least ten verses were to be read from the bible, along with the Lord’s prayer. The United States Supreme Court found this “opening exercise…to be a religious ceremony.” As such, it violated the First Amendment, even though students were permitted to opt out.

Tom_C._Clark

Former Associate Justice Tom C. Clark of the United States Supreme Court

Justice Clark, who authored the (8-1) majority decision, explained– “In the relationship between man and religion, the State is firmly committed to a position of neutrality. Though the application of that rule requires interpretation of a delicate sort, the rule itself is clearly and concisely stated in the words of the First Amendment.”

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 15, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court continued at the Hart Senate Office Building.

Sonia_Sotomayor_on_first_day_of_confirmation_hearings

Sonia Sotomayor at her confirmation hearing on July 13, 2009

You can find the transcript of testimony taken on that day starting on page 325 at https://goo.gl/BOq0iF.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 14, 1917, suffragist Amelia Himes Walker was arrested for picketing outside the White House, and imprisoned for 60 days.

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Displayed here is a cape and cap worn by suffragists at pageants and parades. Purple, white and gold were the official colors of the National Woman’s Party.

Three years later on August 18, 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified. The Amendment guarantees women the right to vote. It states– “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.” Learn more about Amelia Himes Walker at http://goo.gl/3OloaV.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 13, 2009, the Senate Judiciary Committee began its confirmation hearings on President Obama’s nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

You can read the minutes from the entire proceedings at  http://1.usa.gov/1Sj63rQ. On August 6, 2009, the Senate confirmed her nomination and Judge Sotomayor became the first Hispanic, and third woman, to sit on the Court.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 12, 1804, Alexander Hamilton passed away as a result of an injury he sustained during a duel with former Vice President Aaron Burr. Hamilton was quite accomplished. He was a delegate at the Constitutional Convention, a military leader, the first Secretary of the Treasury, and a respected lawyer. He maintained a law practice in downtown Manhattan.

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Hamilton Grange National Memorial

Visit Hamilton Grange in New York City and learn more about his life.  In the meantime, take a look at our Pinterest page at http://bit.ly/1HVMTsl.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 11, 1921, William Howard Taft was sworn in as the 10th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

27th President of the United States William Howard Taft

27th President of the United States William Howard Taft

He’s been the only President to serve on the Supreme Court. To learn more visit http://bit.ly/1RqDOfK and http://bit.ly/1LYxMhB.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 10, 1925, criminal proceedings began in the case of the State of Tennessee vs John Thomas Scopes. John Scopes was indicted for teaching the prohibited subject of evolution at a Dayton, Tennessee, public school. A jury found him guilty of violating Tennessee’s “Butler Act”.

John Scopes

John Scopes

Learn more at http://goo.gl/2Rx9Ea. Also, an entertaining 1960 movie entitled Inherit the Wind is based on this case. I recommend renting it.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 9, 1868, the 14th Amendment to our Constitution was ratified.  You can gain a better understanding of the Amendment by reading–  10 Huge Supreme Court Cases About the 14th Amendment at http://goo.gl/sVloVJ.

14th Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren

14th Chief Justice of the United States Earl Warren

On July 9, 1974, Chief Justice Earl Warren passed away.  President Eisenhower nominated Earl Warren as the 14th chief justice of the United States Supreme Court. On October 5, 1953, he was sworn in, and soon after (on May 17, 1954), the Court decided the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education. The justices unanimously declared separate educational facilities for the races were inherently unequal. Another well-known case, Miranda v. Arizona, was also handed down during Chief Justice Warren’s tenure. That case held police must recite the “Miranda warning” before interrogating any suspected criminal in custody. The warning advises suspects—they have the right to remain silent, and if they choose not to exercise that right, what’s said could be used against them. They’re entitled to an attorney, and if they can’t afford one, an attorney will be provided. After sixteen years on the Court, and many more landmark decisions, Chief Justice Earl Warren retired in 1969.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 8, 1974, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of United States v. Nixon. The lawsuit arose after a subpoena was issued in the Watergate break-in case, demanding that President Nixon produce his secretly recorded conversations from the oval office.

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States

Richard Nixon, 37th President of the United States

The President filed a motion to quash the subpoena, claiming the recordings of his private conversations were protected by “executive privilege”.  On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court unanimously disagreed with him finding that the privilege was not absolute and inapplicable to the facts at issue. He was ordered to produce the tapes.

On August 9, 1974, the President announced his resignation and Nixon became the first president to resign from office. To learn more about these recordings (and hear excerpts from the tapes) watch HBO’s Nixon by Nixon: In His Own Words. It’s an extremely entertaining documentary.

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On This Date in Legal History

On July 7, 1981, President Reagan announced his intent to nominate Sandra Day O’Connor to the United States Supreme Court.

Sandra_Day_O'Connor

Sandra Day O’Connor, 1st Female Justice of the Supreme Court

Take a look at the President’s remarks at http://bit.ly/1Cou0fD, and the New York Times article that reported on the announcement at http://nyti.ms/1fyBoFz. On September 21, 1981, the Senate unanimously confirmed her nomination and she became the first woman to sit on the highest court in the land.

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On This Date in Legal History

In 1801 President John Adams nominated John Marshall as Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and the Senate confirmed his appointment. He served on the Court until his death on July 6, 1835.

4th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall

4th Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court John Marshall

He’s credited for establishing the Court’s power to declare laws unconstitutional. In Marbury v. Madison, he wrote– “It is emphatically the duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases must, of necessity, expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the Courts must decide on the operation of each.” For more information visit https://goo.gl/4xYrFT.

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