Learn more about Korematsu v. United States in our film Korematsu and Civil Liberties.
On Wednesday, April 25th, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Trump v. Hawaii. The case stems from a presidential executive order that bans people from six countries*, five of which are Muslim-majority, from entering the United States. The White House issued the ban arguing that travelers from Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia and North Korea could pose a security risk, despite the fact that no citizen from these countries has carried out a fatal terrorist attack in the U.S. in the past two decades. The Court will hear arguments as to whether the President overstepped the limits of the Executive branch by issuing immigration orders that contradict earlier ones issued by Congress.
Trump v. Hawaii could be the greatest test of presidential authority in 66 years. In 1952, in a case called Youngstown v. Sawyer, the Court overturned an order by President Harry Truman that seized control of the U.S. steel industry during the Korean War to prevent it from being disrupted by a labor strike. In a 6-3 opinion, the Court ruled that President Truman violated the Separation of Powers laid out in the Constitution by seizing the industry without Congressional approval. The president cannot give himself that authority, the Court ruled, because “[i]n the framework of our Constitution, the President’s power to see that the laws are faithfully executed refutes the idea that he is to be a lawmaker.”
Learn more about the limits of Presidential Power in our film about Youngstown v. Sawyer, Checks and Balances.
*The Executive Order, signed on September 24, 2017, followed two previous E.O.s issued in January and March 2017 that were rescinded following legal challenges. The September E.O. initially included a sixth Muslim-majority country, Chad, but the White House removed Chad from the list earlier this month.
Brown v. Board of Education is the case that desegregated schools in America and overturned the doctrine of “separate but equal” that enabled segregation in the United States. The third grader at the center of the case, Linda Brown, died this week at the age of 76.
Linda just wanted a closer school and a safer commute, one that didn’t involve crossing a dangerous street and railroad tracks just to get to her bus. But the school five minutes from her home was all white and Linda was African American. And in Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s, like in much of the country, schools were segregated. Linda’s parents objected and their case became a class action lawsuit that eventually went all the way to the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court ruled in favor of Brown, writing that segregation and the doctrine of “separate but equal” were inherently unequal and thus violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.
Learn more about the fight to end segregation in schools in our film An Independent Judiciary.
On December 15, 1791, the Bill of Rights, the first ten Amendments to the Constitution, was adopted after being ratified by three fourths of the states. Support for a Bill of Rights gained momentum during the ratification process, with many Framers and state legislators arguing that the new Constitution needed to do more to guarantee certain freedoms for citizens. Originally twelve Amendments were proposed, by the original first and second Amendments, which discussed numbers of Congressional Representatives and Representative and Senator pay, were not adopted at the time.
Watch our film, The Bill of Rights to learn about the fight behind this landmark founding document, and the rights it’s intended to protect.
Acclaimed Civil Rights reporter Roy Reed passed away this week at the age of 87. Roy Reed was an award-winning author and journalist, covering many of the defining moments of the Civil Rights era, including the March on Selma. Read more about Reed’s life and work here.
And see Roy Reed speak about the integration of Little Rock Central High School in our film An Independent Judiciary.