With the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the United States can finally turn a page on 50 years of a broke, indefensible, ahistorical Supreme Court decision casting a pall over our national conscience.
But this isn't the first time that the Supreme Court has acted to overturn one of its own garbage decisions. In fact, the Court has many times over the course of its history moved to strike down earlier decisions that should never have come to pass in the first place.
- Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka: This 1954 decision, among the most celebrated in the Supreme Court's history, ruled that schools throughout the country could not segregate black and white student under the banner of "separate but equal." Brown overturned the earlier ruling Plessy v. Ferguson which had ruled in favor of that loathsome doctrine.
- Mapp v. Ohio: In 1961 the Court established the "exclusionary rule" by which evidence gathered by law enforcement in violation of the Fourth Amendment—what the Court called "evidence unlawfully seized"—could not be used in criminal proceedings. An absolutely indispensable aspect of U.S. civil rights, Mapp overturned 1949's Wolf v. Colorado, a decision which largely permitted unlawful evidence to be presented in court.
- Brandenburg v. Ohio: One of the great free-speech decisions in the Court's history, this 1969 ruling established very strong boundaries around American free speech rights, instituting the "imminent lawless action" standard that still reigns today. This ruling overturned several other earlier decisions, most notably the loathsome Schenck v. United States.
- Citizens United v. FEC: This 2010 decision held that the government could not restrict American free speech rights merely because Americans chose to exercise those rights via corporations, unions and other collective organizations. The court in Citizens United deep-sixed the 1990 ruling in Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce.
- Janus v. American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees: This mouthful of a decision, which was handed down just a few years ago in 2018, held that mandatory union fee extractions from public-sector workers violated the First Amendment. Janus struck down 1977's Abood v. Detroit Board of Education.
You always love to see the Supreme Court get it right, even if it takes a while!
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