What is Most Significant for Promoting Social Justice?

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Interesting post.  Why do you think this is the most significant? i

There is no single right answer to this question.  Here’s my take on which of these cases were most significant for promoting social justice in our present day.  I list the in order of significance (in my opinion).

 1)  Texas v. Johnson (1989)

I know that this might surprise people.  I did not pick this case because of flag burning.  I picked it because it reinforced the 1st Amendment right of the people to protest against the government and to do so in non-conventional ways.  Even if it is using symbols rather normal speech and even if most people find it offensive. 

It was the 1st Amendment right of free speech that protected civil rights protestors (certainly one of the most important social justice movements of our time) and anti-Viet Nam war protestors.  It is the right that will continue to protect those crying out for social justice in the future even if the message and the means are painful for some to hear

2) Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Requiring the state to provide an attorney to anyone charged with a felony “evened the playing field” for those charged with serious crimes.  None of the rights in the Bill of Rights would be worth much without having an attorney to ensure they are protected.

3) Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Requiring all people in custodial interrogation to be notified of their rights helped to ensure defendants understood the protections afforded by the Constitution and that the state would pay for them to have an attorney to protect them.  Built upon the breakthrough of Gideon.

4) Mapp v Ohio (1961)

Eliminated widespread abuse of the 4th Amendment by police.  Gave police an incentive to observe 4th Amendment requirements.  Not fully realized until after Gideon and Miranda as those without a lawyer might not know that they could challenge an illegal search.

5) Terry v. Ohio (1968)

Terry did not promote social justice so much as it validated a law enforcement tool.  The contribution to social justice was that it spelled out the criteria for “stop and frisk” and made clear that police must be able to articulate the circumstances that gave them reasonable suspicion.

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