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How Has the Supreme Court Interpreted the 14th Amendment, Research Paper Example

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Research Paper

Section 1 of the 14th Amendment states that “All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof are citizens of the United States, and of the state wherein they reside; no state shall make or enforce any law which abridge the privilege or immunities of the citizens of the citizens of the United States, nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty or property without due process of law, or deny any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the law” ( Legal Information Institute, 2011). (1) www.law.cornell.edu/constitutional/amendmentxiv  accessed 10/12/11. This law has been adopted since 1868, but how has the United States Supreme Court interpreted it in its rulings since the 1950’s?

The Supreme Court through Plessey v. Ferguson (1896) had upheld the practice of separate but equal until Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka forced it to declare the principle unconstitutional, according to Dye (2010). (2) www.prerrhall.com/hss_dye_politics  accessed 10/13/11  Chief Justice Earl Warren in his first major reading from the bench concluded unanimously that in the field of education the doctrine of separate but equal has no place, and that separate educational facilities are inherently unequal, according to Leadership Conference  (2011). (3) www.civilrights.org/judiciary/supreme-court/key-cases.html accessed 10/13/11

For more than a quarter of a century according to Hasday (2002), the Supreme Court has repeatedly declared that sex base state actions is subject to heightened scrutiny under the Equal protection Clause, but has not been clear about what standards it allows and what it prohibits (Hasday, 2002). (8) www.uchicago.edu/titles/files/35jh_citizenship.pdf accessed on 1012/11

In the case of Virginia Military Institute (VMI); a sole single sex school among Virginia public institution of higher learning in the country, the United States sued Virginia and VMI alleging that the institution exclusively male admission policy violated the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause in United States v. Virginia et al. no. 94 941 which was argued in 1996, according to Cornell University Law School (2011). (10) www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html94/-1941.zs.html , accessed on 10/12/11

The District Court had earlier handed down judgment in favor of VMI, but the Supreme Court on June of the same year reversed the decision and ordered VMI to remedy the constitutional violation of the 14th Amendment. In response VMI proposed a parallel program in the form of Virginia Women’s Institute located at Baldwin College, and this was accepted by both the District and Supreme Court (Cornell University Law School, 2011). (10)  The interpretation of the Supreme Court in this case open greater opportunities for women and upheld the mandates of the 14th Amendment.

The case of Mississippi University for Women et al. v. Hogan, the Supreme Court had to interpret the narrow issue of whether a state that excludes males from enrolling in a state supported professional nursing school violated the Equal Protection Clause embedded in the 14th Amendment (University of Missouri-Kansas, 2011). (4) www.law2.umkc.edu/facility/projects/trials/conlaw/missu.htmk accessed 10/13/11

Joe Hogan worked as a supervisor at a medical center but lacked a bachelor’s degree and applied for admission to MUW in 1871, but was denied admission because he was a male student. He was otherwise qualified, according to University of Missouri-Kansas, (2011). (4)

The petitioner filed action in the Northern District of Mississippi, claiming that the single sex admission policy of Mississippi University for Women School of Nursing violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, and sought injunction, declaratory relief as well as compensatory damage (University of Missouri-Kansas, 2011). (4)

In handing down its ruling, the Supreme Court opined that the university actions in admissions lend credibility to the philosophy that only women should be nurses, and had fallen short of persuasively establishing the justification needed to sustain the gender bias classification that it had embraced. Accordingly, it ruled that Mississippi University for Women School of Nursing policy of denying males the right to enroll for credit in its School of Nursing violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment (University of Missouri-Kansas, 2011). (4)

When American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Louisiana took the Vermillion Parish middle school in Louisiana to the Supreme Court, regarding its decision to place the boys from the girls of Jane and Jill Doe into separate classes in the school’s educational programs and against their parent’s wishes, and thereby violated the Equal Protection Clause, the court ruled in favor of the school (ACLU, 2010). (5) www.aclu.org/newsartchive.php?id#n392  accessed 10/13/11

Lawyers for Jane and Jill Doe argued that placing these children into separate single sex classes led to declines in their academic performances (based on supporting documentary evidence), as well as violated their 14th Amendment rights.

The judges interpreted the sexual segregation act as not being harmful despite the programs being implemented wrongfully with the use of faulty data, and ordered the school to immediately make the necessary modifications to ensure compliance with the 14th Amendment (ACLU, 2010). (5)

In appealing the decision the legal director of ACLU contend that law require that all children should have equal access to educational programs of their sex, and the schools in implementing the sexual segregation policy are limiting opportunities for boys and girls (ACLU, 2010). (5)

ACLU legal team believed the Supreme Court erred in its interpretations in applying the correct legal standard under constitution, despite the modification order issued to the school. They went further to remark that the program still remain unlawful because it was rooted using faulty data and discredited theories (ACLU, 2010). (5)

The year 1988 saw the Supreme Court being presented with the case of Grove City College et al. v. Bell, Secretary of Education et al. to decide firstly whether Title.1X applies to this institution which makes it a policy to accept no direct government assistance, but enroll students that receive federal grants that must be used for educational purposes (Google Scholar, 2011). (6) www.scholar.google.com/scholar_case!case4332416657209656272&hl=sdt=2dasvis=1&01=scholar , accessed on10/13/11

Should the court find Grove City College in violation of Title1X, it has to find which program or activity and terminate it would be violating the Department of Education regulation of which require adherence to the Assurance of Compliance under Title 1X. Additionally, it would also have to interpret Grove City College actions to reject applications for admission infringes the First and Fourteenth Amendments on its part and on the part of the students (Google Scholar, 2011). (6)

Section 901 (a) of Title 1X of Education Amendments of 1972, Publ.92 318 Stat.373.20 USC ξ 1681 (a), according to Google Scholar (2011), prohibits sexual discrimination in any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance, and Section 902 directs agencies that are awarding recipients to ensure they adhere to the  prohibition.

Grove City College , according to Google Scholar (2011), refused to comply with the Department of Education regulations and took its case as far as the Supreme Court after rejecting District Court rulings kin November 1983, and the court ruled in February 1984 the  students that enters the college only on BEOG, has caused the institution to be classified as having received Federal financial assistance, but the Department of Education could not terminate these students funding on the basis of Grove City College’s failure to execute an Assurance of Compliance. (6)

The interpretations of the Supreme Court was rejected by the defendant and an appeal came back to the ruling body as Grove City College v. Harris 500 F Supp. 253 (1980, and it decided that Title1X in this case could be likened to non earmarked funds allocated by the Federal Government which will eventually go towards students educational program, and the institution could condition funds upon execution of an Assurance of Compliance.     The Supreme Court also reiterated the Board of Education had acted properly in terminating the financial assistance to the student as well as Grove City College, according to Google Scholar (2011), although there was no evidence of discrimination. (6)

It took an appeal by the defendant to cause the Supreme Court to change its interpretation, issue Certiorari 457 US.1199 (1983) , and grant judgment to the Education Department  authorizing it to terminate BEOG  payments receive by Grove City College and the students in order to induce compliance to the Assurance of Compliance by the educational institution (Google Scholar, 2011). (6)

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) in tandem with WRP took a class action suit to the Supreme Court in 2008, to force the Kentucky School District to change its policy of segregating students by sex and exposing them to a learning environment that is fundamentally unequal, and in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, Title1X, the Equal Opportunity Act, as well as the Kentucky Sex Equity Law, in the case A.N.A. v. United States Department of Education (ACLU, 2010). (5)

Judge Simpson denied the motion to dismiss the case when Breckinridge the submission, and ordered the case to be tried, but the defendant took the motion to the Supreme Court for a final ruling, according to ACLU (2010). (5)

The case was amended by the Supreme Court to read A.N.A. v. Breckinridge County Board of Education, after the judges ruled that The United States Board of Education was not an appropriate defendant in a lawsuit (class action) of this nature, according to Buzuvis and Newhall (2009). It also concluded that the plaintiff cannot rely on Title 1X as a basis to make claims against the Department of Education because the statute only allows private actions submitted by private defendants and not the government (Buzuvis, Newhall, 2009). (7) www.title.-1X.blogspot.com/2009/court-discourse-department-of-education.html , accessed on 10/13/11

The interpretation of the Supreme Court was that the petitioner should look to another avenue for review of the Education Department regulations under Title IX as the present approach was already expressly implied in the statute and enabled the same institution to challenge its regulations (Buzuvis, and Newhall, 2009). (7)

The statute also limits future judicial review in situations where the court could have provided relief for similar actions taken by the department or other agencies on other grounds, according to Buzuvis, Newhall, 2009). (7)

A dilemma was presented by these rulings by the Supreme Court in that the United States Department of Education may not allow the defendant in this case to perhaps use its limited financial and legal resources to defend its regulations, as defeat may establish a precedent that can have far reaching financial consequences. Secondly, in presenting its ruling the legislative entity did not attempt to distinguish other cases from the one they were giving arguments on, in terms of how the right of action of  Title 1X was interpreted in the application of suit against the agency (Buzuvis, Newhall, 2009). (7)

The ruling therefore presented a difficulty perhaps deliberately, in that future petitioners facing similar challenges on sexual segregation in education, may have  learnt nothing to guide their case presentations, and the ACLU in presenting the case was poorly advised to combine Title 1X, the 14th Amendment violation as well as the Equal Educational Opportunities Act in a class action law suit against the Department of Education, without not researching if there were precedent to an approach that was too broad in scope.

In Canon v. University of Chicago, 331 US 677-Supreme Court 1979, an issue was presented to the Supreme Court to decide whether as the petitioner alleged that her admission to the University of Chicago Medical School was denied on the basis that she was a woman (Google Scholar, 2011). (9) www.scholar.google.comscholar_case?case8238388399487274790&hi=en&as_vis=1&01scholar , accessed on 10/13/11

The Supreme Court accepted the allegations as the truth behind the decision, and pointed out that the educational programs of the university were receiving Federal financial assistance at the time the petitioner application was rejected. However, according to Google Scholar (2011), the respondent motion to dismiss the complaint on the failure of the petitioner to establish that there was a violation of Section 901 (a) of Title 1X of the Education Amendment of 1972 was accepted. (9)

The reason for the Supreme Court dismissing the motion on this count was that although Section 681 of the same title inferred that no person in the United States shall on the basis of sex be excluded from participation in and be denied benefits or else subjected to discrimination under educational program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance, section 683 does not expressly authorize private rights of action by a person injured by violation of Section 901 according to Google Scholar (2011). (9)

The Supreme Court interpretation in this case seems unjustified in the sense that the law has no provisions for remedy towards individuals who are discriminated against based on their sexuality, regardless of the extremity of the issue, and the only way to gain justice would be from a class action approach. The petitioner would have to spend considerable time seeking other individuals who had been similarly treated by the medical institution in order to get the Supreme Courts attention.

However, it could also be argued that the prevalence of several petitioners in class action suits would not only indicate consistency in terms of discriminations on the part of defendants, but also greater possibility for petitioners to achieve favorable rulings in outcomes from the Supreme Court, in terms of its legal interpretations.

A connection seems to exist in several of the cases being submitted to the Supreme Court during the period from 1950 to the present regarding sexual segregation in education, in that the petitioners presented are alleging that their Fourteenth Amendments Rights, Title 1X, as well as protection under the  Equal Educational Opportunities Act are being violated.

Consistency in interpretation in some cases seems lacking in this period base on the number of reversals in decisions as well as the number of unique positions taken by the court, especially with the case of Grove City College v. Harris and A.N.A. v. Breckinridge County Board of Education. Grove City College as defendant were not found guilty of any form of discrimination, yet the court ruled that in intent it had violated the Fourteenth Amendment and  the Board of Education was corrected in terminating its BEOG at the time.

In the case of A.N.A. v. Breckinridge County Board of Education the court ruled that The United States Board of Education could not be a defendant in the class action case due to what was written and implied in the statues, while in the case of Canon v University of Chicago, the discriminated petitioner could not as an individual seek remedy form the university medical school for denying her admission on account of her being a woman.

The variations and unique positions taken by the Supreme Court, it could be argued, may be due to the poor levels of preparations by the legal counsels for the petitioners, as well as their lack of experience, as the judges can only evaluate and make decisions on what has been submitted to them for their final rulings

Sexual Segregation in education will continue it seems to challenge members of society as well as institutions that has had their Fourteenth Amendment Rights as well as Title1X, Educational Protection Clause and First Amendment Rights, due to the power of the Supreme Court to make those decisions, its inconsistencies, the lack of cases that could be used as precedent in some instances, and the traditional philosophy of institutions like Virginia Military Institute, Grove City College and the University of Chicago Medical School that insist of maintaining the status quo in terms of male or female exclusivity or independence from federal financial funding  which demands complying to the Board of Education’s Assurance of Compliance.

Reference

Legal Information ( 2011) Fourteenth Amendment , Cornell University Law School

Dye , Thomas, R. (2011) Politics and Civil Rights: Politics in America 5th edition Prentice Hall (2010)

The Leadership Conference (2011). Key Supreme Court Cases for Civil Rights

University of Missouri-Kansas City (2011). Mississippi University for Women

American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (2010). ACLU Challenges Louisiana School Sex Segregation Program before Federal Appeals Court

Google Scholar (2011) Grove City College Bell, 465 US555-Supreme Court 1984

Buzuvis, Erin, E., Newhall, Kristine, E. Newhall (2009) Court Dismisses Department of Education Single Sex Education Suit – A.N. A. v. Breckinridge County Board of Education

Hasday, Jill, Elaine (2002)., Chicago Public Law and Legal Working Paper No.35

Google Scholar, (2011). Canon v. University of Chicago 441US 677-Supreme Court 1979

Cornell University Law School (2011). United States v. Virginia et al.518 US515 (1996

Annotated Bibliography

Legal Information Institute (2011)

This entity is a division of Cornell University Law School which provides no cost access to current American and International legal research sources online at www.lawcornell.edu. was founded in 1992. It a reliable source of legal information

Thomas, R. Dye is Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Florida State University. He is the author of numerous books and articles on American Government and Public Policy. Two of these are “The Iron of Democracy” and Politics in America which is in its 5th He is also listed in Heritage Foundation Guide Public Policy Expert, and is a competent source of information on the United States Constitution

Legal Information Institute (2011). Is the Nation premiere civil and human rights coalition. The entity is comprised of diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations, and has promoted civil and human rights for all persons in the United States since 1950. It is a reputable source on civil rights issues.

University of Missouri-Kansas City (umkc.edu) is one of four University of Missouri campuses and is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate. Founded in 1929, it has 120 academic programs and is an authoritative source in Supreme Court case rulings on civil rights.

American Civil Liberties Union (2011), (aclu.org) is a US non-profit and non-partisan organization that is dedicated to defend and preserve individual rights and liberties. It was founded in 1920 and has a long history of fighting in the courts to protect the rights and freedom of people throughout the United States.

Google Scholar (1011) (googlescholar.com). The entity provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literatures across many disciplines. Its legal opinions are solely for informational purposes and should not be used as legal advice in the courts. Information are ranked on the same basis as other global research organizations

Buzuvis, Erin, is Associate Professor of Law at Western New England. She also writes on gender discrimination in sports, racial discrimination, interrelation of law and culture.

Newhall, Kristine, is a Ph. D. candidate in Women Studies at the University of Iowa. Here areas of interest are gender and sports, especially issues of discrimination, oppression and equity in institutionalized and recreational sports, as well as exercise and fitness. (www.title-1x.blogspot.com )

Hasday, Jill, Elaine (2002), is professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and teaches and writes in the fields of anti-discrimination law, constitutional law, family law, legal history and national security

Cornell University Law School (lawschool.edu ) is a leading law school that combines inspired teaching with cutting edge scholarship in a close knit and collegial intellectual community. It is part of one of the world’s leading great research university and is a reliable source in all legal questions and advice.

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