For Constitution Day:

I recall that, four years ago, Sarah Palin, who was running for Vice President of the United States on the Republican line, could only name one Supreme Court case she disagreed with. ABC News came up with 24 Supreme Court Cases Every Presidential Candidate Should Know and something called Ranker ranks the Most Controversial Supreme Court Cases. Palin named Roe v. Wade, regarding abortion, #1 on the Ranker list, #11 on ABC News’ mostly chronological roster. In that light:

What are your favorite Supreme Court rulings?

What are your least favorite Supreme Court rulings?

On my favored side has to be Gideon v. Wainwright, where the right to an attorney was affirmed (ABC #6); Miranda v. Arizona (ABC #9); Lawrence v. Texas (Ranker #4 ABC #18); and my all-time favorite, Loving v. Virginia (ABC #10), which I wrote about here, and elsewhere. What about Brown v Board of Education, (Ranker #2, ABC #5)? Important in the broad sweep of breaking down separate but equal, which had been codified in Plessy v Ferguson (Ranker #9, ABC #3), but the resegregation of public schools is mighty discouraging.

On the least favored side:
Citizens United (Ranker #6, ABC #8), which encouraged an outrageous amount of big money in the political process; Kelo v. City of New London (ABC #19), the wrong use of eminent domain, in my view; and of course, the Dred Scott decision (Ranker #7, ABC #2). Bush v Gore (Ranker #2, ABC #16) holds a special place, though, for I believe it signaled, for some people, the beginning of the end of the Supreme Court as a deliberative body and the perception, true or not, as another political operation.
Last year, in Newsweek, in a title changed to The GOP Candidates Read Wacky Books (they got rid of the Bizarro reference from the print version), Paul Begala wrote:

Which brings us to Rick Perry, who got a C in animal breeding at Texas A&M. He’s not a big reader. But he claims to have been influenced by The Five Thousand Year Leap: 28 Great Ideas That Changed the World by W. Cleon Skousen. Glenn Beck, who went from Fox News stardom to oblivion, has pushed Skousen’s book relentlessly. It is stridently anti-Washington, tracing the decline of federalism to the 17th Amendment, which allows citizens, rather than state legislatures, to choose senators. Skousen, a John Bircher, is so far right that even National Review’s Mark Hemingway has called him an “all-around nutjob.”

3 Responses to “You say it’s in the Constitution: your most/least favorite Supreme Court decisions”

  • NOT surprisingly, I agree with what you listed, but I’d add as favourites Griswold v. Connecticut, which first established a constitutional right to privacy, and Eisenstadt v. Baird, which expanded that right. Lawrence v. Texas, which you mentioned, is based, in part, on those two rulings.

    I’d add to my “least favoured” Bowers v. Hardwick, which found that gay Americans had NO right to privacy (later rightly overturned by the Lawrence ruling).

    Most of all, I favour anyone who talks about Constitutional law and Supreme Court rulings because it’s such an important—and little understood—subject.

  • I’m afraid most of this went over my head. But any book with ’28 Great Ideas That Changed the World’ in the title must appear in ’28 books to avoid’!

  • Cheri says:

    My son is a very “occupy”-minded soul, so Citizens United gets a lot of discussion time around here. Bush/Gore is much higher on my least favorite side, but the kid is fairly convinced the presidency is all a big sham, anyway, so it didn’t really matter how it was decided. Youth.

    But how about non-decisions? I didn’t follow the story particularly closely, but I do remember wondering why the USSC refused to hear the Terri Schiavo case so many times. That poor woman’s family–both sides–was suffering so, and for all we know, she was suffering, too. It just seemed crazy to me the way it dragged on and on for YEARS, when the court could’ve stepped in and provided a final decision, one way or the other.

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