Youngstown Sheet & Tube Company postcard.
Almost a century after Dred Scott, the Court’s right to judicial review allowed for a massive expansion of rights for Americans. In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court was asked to consider whether segregation in schools was permissible under the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. Under Chief Justice Earl Warren, the Court unanimously decided that the “separate but equal” conditions that existed in segregated schools directly violated the 14th Amendment, and as a result, districts across the nation were ordered to integrate their student bodies. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice Warren chose to use language that was simpler and more direct that typical written opinions, as he felt that the Court’s decision was one that all Americans should be able read and understood.
More recently, 2012’s United States v. Alvarez serves as an example of how the Court could simultaneously impact both the Legislative and Executive branches with a single decision. In 2005, Congress passed the Stolen Valor Act, which sought to punish individuals who falsely claim to have been awarded high military honors. In United States v. Alvarez, the Court was asked to decide whether Xavier Alvarez’s First Amendment rights were being violated when he was charged with two counts of misrepresenting himself under the Stolen Valor Act. In a 6-3 decision, the Court ruled that the Stolen Valor Act was written too broadly, and that Congress had no right to impose criminal punishment for the type of speech made by Alvarez. Shortly following the Court’s decision, the President (supported by the Pentagon) established a database of medal citations to help verify who had rightfully received military honors. Following the creation of that database, Congress amended its original Act with the Stolen Valor Act of 2013, remedying the sections of the 2012 Act that violated the Constitution.