This week marks the start of the Supreme Court’s new term. As always, the cases on the docket are varied and complex. Luckily, The Constitution Project helps provide context and historical background for a number of the issues appearing before the Court over the next several months.
So, why does the Supreme Court matter? While Alexander Hamilton may have called the Judiciary “the least dangerous branch,” it has evolved over the past 200 years into an exceedingly powerful force in our country. To learn more about why the Judiciary and the Supreme Court are important, watch our film, An Independent Judiciary.
A number of upcoming cases are debating issues spelled out in the Bill of Rights. Our film The Bill of Rights gives a general overview of the first 10 Amendments to the Constitution and the numerous rights they establish.
The first case the Court heard this term dealt with the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. To learn more about this fundamental right and one of the most important Fourth Amendment cases of the past 60 years, watch our film Mapp v. Ohio.
Several cases on the docket deal with how congressional districts should be determined. Historically, the Court has resisted dictating how state legislatures should be structured, fearing that to do so would infringe on the legislature’s powers and would undermine the Court’s authority. To learn about how the Court overcame this concern, watch our film One Person, One Vote about the landmark Supreme Court cases Baker v. Carr and Reynolds v. Simms.
As is often the case, the Court is hearing a number of cases concerning minority rights. Our films Yick Wo, An Independent Judiciary, and Jury Selection: Edmonson v. Leesville provide a historical overview of the numerous ways the Supreme Court has protected the rights of racial minorities.
The Right to Remain Silent: Miranda v. Arizona has won a 2014 Clarion Award in the Educational Video Production category. Watch our film about this landmark Supreme Court Case here.
Celebrate the anniversary of the ratification of the 14th Amendment by watching our film Yick Wo and the Equal Protection Clause. Yick Wo was a Chinese immigrant who ran a laundry service in San Francisco in the 19th century. He took his case against the city’s discriminatory licensing laws all the way to the Supreme Court, and in the process changed American constitutional history. For the first time, the Supreme Court defined the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, and established that the amendment granted equal protection to all persons, not just citizens of the United States. Since Yick Wo was decided in 1886, it has been cited over 160 times by the Supreme Court.
In a unanimous decision , the Supreme Court declared that law enforcement cannot search a suspect’s cell phone without first obtaining a warrant. Previously, police officers were allowed to engage in warrantless searches of mobile phones when they arrested a suspect. Writing for the Court, Chief Justice Roberts explained that given the vast amount of information stored on cell phones, this practice should no longer be permitted. The decision signals another victory for Supreme Court litigator and Stanford Law professor Jeffrey Fisher, who will be featured in our upcoming film on the confrontation clause. To learn more about search warrants and our constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, watch our award-winning film on the landmark 4th Amendment case, Mapp v. Ohio.
Our film “The Right to Remain Silent” on the landmark Supreme Court case Miranda v. Arizona has received a Silver Screen Award at the 2014 US International Film and Video Festival. Watch our award-winning film here.