5 Most Influential Historical Decisions by Supreme Court Justices

The Supreme Court Justices who sit on the Supreme Court are the men and women responsible for making decisions that affect the millions of people living in the United States. Their political leanings can determine the way in which they rule on different cases. As Justices can sit on the court for decades, their rulings can impact people not yet born at the time of a court ruling. You can get an idea of how they ruled with a look at some of the most influential decisions of that court from history.

Brown Vs. Board of Education

One of the most important cases ever brought before the U.S. Supreme Court might be Brown Vs. Board of Education. USA Today included this case from 1954 on its list of the most famous Supreme Court decisions. This case ended with the Court determining that the segregation of schools was unconstitutional. The landmark decision called for the desegregation of lower schools and colleges across the country.

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Betterman Vs. Montana

The odds are good that you never heard about Betterman vs. Montana, which was a case the Supreme Court oversaw in 2016. This case led to the Supreme Court Justices determining that suspected criminals do not necessarily have the right to a speedy trial. It essentially divides a court cases into different phases that include the charging of the criminal, the trial and then the sentencing stage. Speedy trial refers to the amount of time it takes for the case to make its way through the court system. This decision gives police and attorneys more time to gather evidence and make a case against a suspect before that suspect goes on trial.

Loving Vs. Virginia

Depending on your age, you may not remember a time when dating someone outside of your race was illegal. Though the Civil Rights Act increased the amount of rights given to minorities, many states still had laws on the books that forbade residents from marrying outside of their races. Loving vs. Virginia is the Supreme Court decision that changed all that. This 1967 case prohibited states from restricting couples from marriage based on their races and invalidated any state laws of that effect on the books.

Obergefell Vs. Hodges

One of the more recent cases taken in front of the Supreme Court is Obergefell vs. Hodges. After multiple state and other courts introduced rulings that called same sex marriages unconstitutional, the Supreme Court reversed those decisions with a ruling that made same sex marriages legal on the federal level. This landmark case led to thousands of same sex couples across the country exchanging vows and celebrating their new marriages. It also made the news after several court clerks refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

Roe Vs. Wade

In 1973, Justices on the Supreme Court decided that women had the legal right to seek abortions. This limited abortions to within the first two trimesters or six months of a pregnancy. It made abortion a constitutional right and was a landmark case in the world of reproductive rights. Roe vs. Wade is also important because President Donald Trump announced plans to overturn that decision during his campaign and because it led to a sharp divide between those who are for abortions and those who believe the government should ban abortions.

The Supreme Court is the highest court operating in the United States today. Decisions made by its Justices can impact thousands of people or even millions of people. Some of the top decisions made by Supreme Court Justices through history called for desegregation of schools, made same sex marriages legal and allowed couples of different races to marry.