Landmark Supreme Court Cases


Today we will learn about two Landmark Supreme Court cases. The first case we will study is Regents
of the University of California versus Bakke. In 1973, Alan Bakke applied to the Medical School of the University of California at Davis. The Medical School admitted 84 regular students, and 16 minority students, per year. The minority students were allowed to have lower grade point averages and test scores than the regular students. Bakke, who was a white applicant had a grade point average slightly lower than the regular applicants, but his test scores were much higher. Both his grade point average and test scores were higher than the minority students. When Bakke was denied admission twice he sued the University for acceptance to the Medical School. California’s Superior Court found that the special admissions program for minorities violated the US Constitution, the California State Constitution and
the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but they did not order the school to admit Bakke. Bakke appealed his case to the California Supreme Court and they agreed with him, using the 14th amendment as evidence, the court ordered the University of
California’s Medical School to admit him. The Medical School appealed their case to the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court ruled that using a racial quota system violated the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. They agreed that race could be
used as a factor in college admission, but it could not be the only factor. They ordered the Medical School to admit Bakke. The second case we will study
today is Miranda versus Arizona. In 1963 Ernesto Miranda was arrested at his home in Phoenix Arizona on suspicion of kidnapping and rape. He was taken to the police station for questioning, but was not advised of his Fifth Amendment right to an attorney, or his right to remain silent. After two hours of interrogation, he signed a written confession and was later found guilty. He appealed the decision to the United States Supreme Court, the Supreme Court agreed that a person accused of a crime should be informed of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent, and have an attorney present. The legacy of this case are what we today called the Miranda rights. Before questioning a suspect, police officers informed the accused that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can and will be used against them in a court of law, that they have the right to an attorney, and if they cannot afford an attorney one will be provided for them.

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