Nguyen v. Immigration & Naturalization Service

Key Facts– A US statute determining whether or not the child of one US citizen parent and one non-US citizen parent was a US citizen imposed different requirements depending upon whether the mother or father was a US citizen.

Issue– Does this violate Equal Protection?

Holding– No

Result– Law affirmed

Reasoning– It’s easy to be certain of who a child’s mother is. It is much more difficult to be certain of paternity, especially when the parents are unmarried. From a practical biological standpoint, there are very real reasons for a legal difference in treatment.

Palmore v. Sidoti

Key Facts– A Florida court made a ruling divesting a mother of custody of her infant child, because she remarried to a person of a different race.

Issue– Is private racial bias and the possible injury it might inflict on a child a permissible consideration in removing an infant from its mother’s custody?

Holding– No

Result– Mother’s custody restored

Reasoning– The Constitution does not tolerate prejudice. While it cannot eliminate private prejudices, the law must never give it effect.

Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972)

Key Facts– Massachusetts convicted Baird for distributing contraceptives to people not married, and without being a pharmacist or doctor.

Issue– Is Massachusetts’ distinction between married and unmarried couples based on rational grounds?

Holding– No

Result– Law struck down

Reasoning– The law cannot be intended to deter premarital sex, because that would make fornication punishable by pregnancy, and also because this would have barely any effect on the desired goal. Also, the right to contraceptive access must be the same for married and unmarried people. The right to privacy belongs to everyone.

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

Key Facts– Connecticut had a statute prohibiting the use of contraceptives. Griswold worked with Planned Parenthood in disseminating contraceptives. After Griswold was arrested and fined, she appealed.

Issue– Is there a right to contraceptive use?

Holding– Yes

Result– Law overturned.

Reasoning– Rights guaranteed in the Bill of Rights have additional implications, “penumbras.” The Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments each create certain privacy rights, from which other rights may be inferred. Here, Connecticut violates a married couple’s right to privacy through its law.

Griswold
Griswold
Connecticut
Connecticut

Michael H. v. Gerald D. (1989)

Key Facts– Under California law, children born to married women living with their husbands are presumed to be children of the marriage. Michael H. had an affair with a woman married to Gerald D., and Michael H. now sues for the right to establish his paternity of the child he fathered with the wife.

Issue– Are parental rights guaranteed when one alleges paternity of a child born to a married couple?

Holding– No

Result– California law held to apply to the case.

Reasoning– California law provides an assumption of paternity for the husband. Historically, the interests of men in Michael’s situation have not been protected through any special measures. To have Due Process protection, a right must be fundamental, rooted in tradition and conscience. Since no such right exists here, state law shall apply.

Stanley v. Illinois (1972)

Key Facts– Under Illinois law, the children of unwed fathers became wards of the state upon the death of their mother. This happened to Peter Stanley’s children when Joan Stanley died.

Issue– Is a regulation automatically taking children from their parents constitutionally permissible?

Holding– Of course not.

Result– Law overturned.

Reasoning– The integrity of the family is protected by Due Process. There is no way of categorically saying all unwed fathers are unfit to have custody of children. This statute runs roughshod over family rights, and it cannot stand.

Zablocki v. Redhail (1978)

Key Facts– Wisconsin had a law requiring that people who fell into some category (being behind on child support) get a special court order prior to getting a marriage license. It essentially made it impossible for Redhail to get married.

Issue– Is this sort of regulation constitutionally permissible?

Holding– No

Result– Law overturned.

Reasoning– Marriage is a fundamental right, and laws that make it more difficult to get married should be strictly scrutinized. This law effectively makes it impossible for some people to marry, particularly the indigent.

Loving v. Virginia (1967)

Key Facts– Virginia had a law that prohibited interracial marriage. Loving and his wife married outside of the state and then returned to Virginia.

Procedural History– Trial court sentenced the couple to one year in jail, suspended for twenty-five years. Trial judge noted “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.” Supreme Court of Appeals upheld constitutionality of the law, but modified the sentence. Supreme Court grants well-deserved certiorari.

Issue– Is a law prohibiting interracial marriage constitutional?

Holding– No.

Result– Law overturned.

Reasoning– This violates the Equal Protection Clause. Marriage is a basic civil right. This law should not still exist in 1967, especially given that Heart of Atlanta was three years before this case (my reasoning).

Interracial marriage, back when it was a novel concept (depiction of Othello)
Interracial marriage, back when it was a novel concept (depiction of Othello)