The three most important cases of the 20th century are Engel v. Vitale, Brown v. Board of Education, and Roe v. Wade. First, as mentioned above, Engel v. Vitale took prayer out of thepublic school on the issue of the separation of church and state. Subsequent rulings such as Wallace v. Jaffree, Lee v. Weisman, and Santa Fe ISD v. Doe have followed the Engel precedentby limiting prayers not only by clergy but also by students as well. By eliminating prayers fromour public schools, America is withdrawing herself from the beliefs of the founding fathers. Ournation is rejecting God more and more each day. Engel v. Vitale was the crucial first steptowards such a downward spiral.
Secondly, Brown v. Board of Education came before the Supreme Court on the grounds that segregation was unconstitutional. The parents of twenty elementary students in Topeka, Kansas claimed that their children should not have to be bussed across town when another school was closer. In a unanimous decision, the Court overturned the precedent of Plessy v. Ferguson, which declared “separate, but equal,” and said that public school segregation violated the Equal Protection Clause. Chief Justice Earl Warren led the charge in the decision which created a way for integration and the civil rights movement. A few years later, Brown II came before the Supreme Court because the schools were not desegregating fast enough. The Court made the decision that the schools must be desegregated “with all deliberate speed.” The reason this court case is so monumental to the 20th century is the fact that it helped birth the civil rights movement and stop racial segregation in education. More civil rights cases flooded the Supreme Court, thanks to Brown v. Board of Ed.
Thirdly, Roe v. Wade dealt with the issue of whether a woman had a right to abort her baby. Norma McCorvey, alias Jane Roe, fought a Texas law which prohibited a woman from having an abortion. The Court was not sure how to handle the case since abortions were not discussed in the Constitution. Eventually, the Court ruled that a woman had a constitutional right to privacy under the due process clause; therefore, a woman could have an abortion until the point that the embryo could survive on its own outside the womb. Justices Blackmun, Burger, Douglas, Brennan, Marshall, and Powell were the majority with Justices White and Rehnquist dissenting. Further rulings in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Stenberg v. Carhart, and Gonzales v. Carhart have refined the legal standard for abortion. Since Roe v. Wade, thousands of Americans have lost their lives, simply because their mothers did not want them. Not only has this court case legitimized the murder of babies, but it has also become a precedent for other issues surrounding the “right to privacy.” The gay rights movement in recent days has used this very idea of privacy for their whole campaign for same-sex marriage. These three court cases that have been discussed have had lasting impacts on America which can still be seen today.
– Hannah S. Bowers