THE SUPREME COURT OF THE 1960S
Throughout the 1960s, the Supreme Court was active in the changes that brought about more American freedom and responsibility:
- Engel v. Vitale (1962): In this case, the court ruled that officials can't require prayers and Bible-reading in public schools because these activities may go against the beliefs of some of the students.
- New York Times v. Sullivan (1964): In this case, the court held that news media could be sued for libel only if they wrongly attacked a public official out of malice, thus completing a long chain of free-press decisions that went back to the Peter Zenger case before the American Revolution.
- Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Roe v. Wade (1973): With these cases, the court made birth control and abortion legal. Row v. Wade continues to be controversial but has withstood legal challenges to this day.
Kennedy's peacemaking initiative
- Reynolds v. Sims (1964): In this case, the court ordered that state legislatures regularly redraw their voting districts to reflect changes in population, thus taking power away from rural counties and giving it to the places where people actually lived. This redistricting can be subject to gerrymandering as politicians try to draw districts that will let them continue to hold power.
- Miranda v. Arizona (1966): In this case, the court ordered police departments to read defendants their rights to remain silent and be represented by an attorney when they are arrested. Although controversial at the time, the concept of rights for suspects has now spread to much of the democratic world.
Widespread quoting of the Miranda warning in police TV shows and movies has led people in other countries to demand to be read their rights when they're arrested. They sometimes find out the hard way that they don't have American rights yet, but what other countries see in the widespread U.S. media helps spread social ideas.