Evolving constitutional timeline

Constitutional Timeline Part II

documenting major events that took place from 1950 to present that changed the constitution which affected education.

Brown v. Board of Education


In the case of Brown v. Board of Education the Separate but Equal doctrine was found as a violation of constitutional rights in regards to the segregation occurring in public schools. The separate schools were not equal in funding, facilities, amenities or quality of education. The court ordered schools to desegregate but it took certain areas a long time to figure out how to do this and some areas simply did not want to integrate their schools. Students were eventually bussed into schools in order to allow for integration.

San Antonio Independent School District v. Rodriguez


In the case of San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez the court must decide if location of a school affects the quality of funding received. The argument was that schools located in areas of lower income received less funding in comparison to schools in higher income areas with higher property tax. A school's location should have no bearing on the amount or type of funding it receives, and all schools within the same area should receive equal funding. In this instance the court decided that the distribution of funding was not a violation of the fourteenth amendment. The court decided that the way funding was handled was not intentionally discriminatory and added that the Equal Protection Clause does not sate that every individual be treated with exact equality.

Plyler v. Doe


This case tackles the issue of providing equal, public education to undocumented children or children who may be considered illegal immigrants living in the United States. The issue at hand was the state of Texas wanted to deny children entry into the public school system unless they could prove U.S. citizenship. The problem with this was there was a large group of students who couldn't necessarily prove they were living in the United States legally; some may have traveled across the Mexico/United States border and others could have been born in the United States but their parents have no documents showing citizenship. There were many reasons the courts did not uphold legislation passed by the state of Texas. The act of denying enrollment in public schools to undocumented children does not do anything to pro-actively stop illegal immigration. This act also weakens the education system; withholding equal education from certain groups of people perpetuates a future nation that is uneducated- a pretty simple concept. The court found this to be a violation of the Equal Protection Act, a part of the fourteenth amendment, on the basis of denying free, public education to undocumented children based on the sole idea that they are immigrants and not citizens of the United States. Another important point made in this case is that the children have no control in this situation, they are simply born and deserve to live a free and equal life despite their circumstances.

Abbott v. Burke


In the case of Abbott v. Burke the Abbott school district of New Jersey was working to gain "thorough and efficient" education for children in all school districts. Strictly speaking on the funding for the schools in low income districts of Jersey. The goal was to obtain "adequate foundational funding, universal pre-school, supplemental or at risk programs/funding and reform of curriculum and instruction." In 1990 the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that the way the state was distributing funds between high and low income school districts was a violation of constitutional law. The unbalanced distribution of education funds was a violation of the constitutions promise of a "thorough and efficient" education system.

Education Law Center. (n.d.). Retrieved June 16, 2017, from http://www.edlawcenter.org/cases/abbott-v-burke/abbott-history.html

Constitutional Timeline Part I

The Continental Congress met for first time

September 5, 1774 - 1781

A group known as the Continental Congress met to discuss national issues and areas of concern with England. This group functioned from before their declaration of independence until 1781 when their independence was won. This group discussed the idea of a constitution during the time at which the Declaration of Independence was being adopted into the nation.

Declaration of Independence Issued


The original 13 colonies had grievances with England and set to declare their independence

United Colonies resolution

July 2, 1776

On this date the "United Colonies" resolution was adopted into the Declaration of Independence. This stated the thirteen colonies to be free and independent states while also being completely free from all british power.

Independence Won


Issues with the Articles of Confederation

1781 - 1787

-Because the states were so powerful and independent they were able to tax items from foreign countries despite any previous negotiations by the national government.
-The national government also had no real control over the defense of our nation; they could declare war but our national government relied on each individual state to supply some type of army or volunteers.
-The national government was also financially dependent upon payments to the national treasury by each state. Many states were unable to make these payments which put our national government in financial crisis
-No real national judiciary system in place

Adoption of Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union


The thirteen colonies adopted the Articles of Confederation which acted as the first, real constitution of the United States. The Continental Congress was replaced with the Confederation Congress which had slightly more authority but lacked the amount of power from the individual states. This issue would be one of many that leads to a new Constitution later on.

Shay's Rebellion


A group of farmers in Massachusetts, led by Daniel Shays, rebel against their government. The state of the economy had the farmers trapped, they could not pay their debts and there were land forfeitures. There was nothing the national government could do to control the rebellion; the farmers had taken over the courts at a local level to prevent them from functioning. Shay's rebellion acted as another stepping stone on the road to a new constitution- the nation could see there was change needed.

Meeting in Annapolis, Maryland


A meeting to discuss commerce issues ended up with Alexander Hamilton presenting an idea that a convention be held to discuss the issues surrounding the Articles of Confederation

The Great Compromise


A compromise between two plans, the Virginia Plan & New Jersey Plan, regarding the amount of representatives each state would have. State representation for the House of Representatives would be based on state population and at the level of the Senate each state would have an equal number of representatives, 2. The national government would also use the formula for deciding representatives to also deal with taxation of the people of the states. This was a big deal because if those who were considered slaves were counted as a part of the states population then the southern states would be paying a lot more in state taxes. There was debate on whether slaves were property or if they should be counted as a part of the states population. If they were counted then the southern states could technically gain more representation at the lower level because of population numbers. The two opposing sides compromised on allowing three-fifths of the "slave population", changing the wording in the Constitution to "other persons", to be counted for both taxation and representation issues. Members of the House of Representatives would be elected by the people of the state and senators would be elected by state legislators.

Influence of the Articles of Confederation


-The Virginia plan suggested a separation of power between legislative, judicial and executive branches within the government. This is a detail the Articles of Confederation did not include simply because they were trying to give almost all control to the states. The three branches would be able to check each other and maintain a balance of power.
-Under the Articles of Confederation the federal government had a difficult time taxing the states so, to combat this in the new constitution, the framers decided that the Great Compromise would aid in both state representation at a legislative level and taxation issues- see the timeline point on "The Great Compromise"
- The Articles of Confederation appointed no true leader of the nation. The national government was powerless concerning military, taxation, judicial issues among many other things. This influenced the delegates involved with the new Constitution to develop a really well thought out plan regarding what the leader of our nation should be like and what responsibilities that person should have. see more under Electoral College point.

Right to vote


The delegates discussed voting rights during the constitutional convention. Early discussion bounced around the idea that voting should be left to landowners, but they knew this would create controversy. In the end, the right to vote was extended to "all free men" which of course excluded any persons considered "not free"

Birth of the Electoral College


The delegates finally decided on the title of our nation to be "President" and were still worried that some might compare our newly forming government to that of a monarchy. It was a difficult decision figuring out how exactly the president would be elected but, after what I'm sure had to be heavy debate, the delegates decided on the electoral college system. This is the way this worked "each state has a number of electors equal to the total number of national Congress members (members of the House and Senate) it possesses." (pg 13)
These are the people that make up the electoral college and they essentially elect the president.

The Constitutional Convention

May 25, 1787 - September 17, 1787

The Constitutional Convention begins in May and lasts through mid September with few breaks in between. During the second day of the convention the governor of Virginia submitted the Virginia Plan; this plan controlled many of the issues the convention would look into. The Virginia Plan was a huge contribution to the current constitution. This plan was to be a revision of the Articles of Confederation but it was more like an idea to replace the Articles with a new constitution which empowered the national government.

United States Constitution is ratified

September 17, 1787

39 Delegates signed, 3 refused regarding what was spoken about during the Constitutional Convention.

States approve the Constitution


States were accepting the new Constitution beginning shortly after it was complete. In July of 1788 every state but Rhode Island had accepted the United States Constitution. The first Electoral College had selected George Washington as the nation's first President.

Judiciary Act of 1789


The Supreme Court of the United States was created with this new Constitution but there also needed to be lower national courts to enforce national law at a state level. This led to state courts being required to enforce national law. Congress then established 13 district courts and 3 circuit courts through the Judiciary Act of 1789

Early Court Era

1789 - 1801

The Early Court had most judicial authority during this time. The role of the Supreme Court was still somewhat unclear and resignations occurred often during this era. A major decision was made stating, "states made be liable in federal court" (p. 39.) This decision inevitably led to the eleventh amendment.

Bill of Rights ratified

December 15, 1791

The Bill of Rights was an idea proposed, originally, during the Constitutional Convention but was not amended into the constitution. This was because the delegates did not think the government had authority over the topics within the Bill of Rights. In 1791 the Bill of Rights would come to pass.

John Adams becomes president


Adams defeats Jefferson in the presidential election

Alien and Sedition Acts


Congress enacted these four laws during this time:
-Registration of "illegal aliens"
-Increased tracking of "illegal aliens"
-the President could "deport aliens deemed dangerous"
-The government could prosecute anyone who spoke ill about the federal or falsely government.
These laws surrounded the conflict the United States was experiencing with France.

Twelfth Amendment adopted


Allowed for separate votes for President and Vice President.

Prohibition of import of slaves

January 1, 1808

Congress prohibits the importation of slaves which, unfortunately, does not end slavery at this point.

Marshal Court era

1808 - 1836

Adams was up for re-election but lost again Jefferson. Adams nominated Federalist John Marshall to be chief justice of the Supreme Court. During this era the national government started to gain more authority over the states. many things evolved in this era including:
- based on Marbury v. Madison we came about with Judicial Review: the Judicial branch is the final authority when it comes interpretation of law and constitutional rights
-based on McCulloch v. Madison individual states could not tax state banks

Taney Court era

1836 - 1865

During this era Roger Taney was chief justice and court preferred authority switched from national to state level. One major court case was Dred Scott v. Sanford in 1856, in which The Supreme Court decided slaves to be property who had no constitutional rights. Judicial review was used to determine that slavery was a state issue instead of a national one.

Reconstruction era

1867 - 1877

The nation was in a state of reconstruction after the civil war. At this point there was a great role-reversal in which the national government was gaining the power it needed to function properly and the state governments were taking a step back from this power. There were particular amendments adopted into the U.S. Constitution which were referred to as the "Reconstruction Amendments".
Reconstruction Amendments:
-Thirteenth Amendment- 1865- forbidding slavery
-Fourteenth Amendment- 1868- section 1- "every state shall extend to all persons due process and equal protection of the law" (pg. 40)
-Fourteenth Amendment also allows Congress to "power to enact legislation to enforce its mandates" which proved important for the Civil Rights Act (pg. 40)
-Fifteenth Amendment- 1870- "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude."
Many of the southern states were no interested in the ratification of the 13th and 14th amendment but were almost bribed into it. Congress made it clear that if a state did not participate in the ratification of these two amendments they would be denied state representation

Pre- New Deal era

1877 - 1930

This is the era existing in the time between the Reconstruction era and the New Deal era. During this period the courts were using the fourteenth amendment to "limit the power of the state's to regulate interstate commerce" (pg. 40) During this period it's important to recognize that the tenth amendment helped to balance the control the federal government had over interstate commerce as to not step on the toes of the state. Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), an important court case during this era, was an example of the fourteenth amendment not being used to protect the rights of particular citizens. This case produced the "separate but equal" doctrine in which there were "separate yet equal accommodations" for different ethnicities. This was an obvious violation of rights and the case was taken to the Supreme Court for conflicting with the thirteenth and fourteenth amendment. However, this case did not hold up in favor of Mr. Plessy at the Supreme Court level. The court decided that the separation of a particular person based on racial background does not mean that person is inferior to the other. Following Plessy v. Ferguson there were a number of "restrictive legislation decisions based on race" and this would not stop until Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka in 1954.

The New Deal era

1930 - 1953

Roosevelt was President during this time and he was trying to revive the economy with "New Deal" measures but the Supreme Court wasn't fully on board. The New Deal measures were in response to The Great Depression.

Warren Court era

1953 - 1969

Warren Court was influential in the Civil Rights Movement & it helped to end to racial segregation.
-Brown v. Board of Education- The banned of segregation of public schools.
-Roe v. Wade- The legalization of abortion.
-Terry v. Ohio- To give the police power to stop and check people that they have reason to believe are in possession of a weapon.
-Gideon v. Wainwright- Prevents the prosecutors from using illegal seized evidence from a person to prosecute them. People who are accused of a crime can receive a public defender.
-Miranda v. Arizona- People who are accused of crimes still enjoyed constitutional protection rights under the law. Rights must be read to those in violation of the law.

Burger Court era

1969 - 1986

A very conservative time in the Supreme Court three major cases were:
- School busing program to be constitutional in Keyes v. School District No. 1, Denver, Colorado (1973).
- Race and equal employment opportunity law in Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (1971)
-Obscenity in a motion picture, Carnal Knowledge Jenkins v. Georgia (1974)

Rehnquist Court era

1986 - 2005

Chief Justice Rehnquist wrote the majority opinion that confirmed the right of Congress to name independent counsels to "investigate and prosecute high government officials". He also presided over laws concerning rape as a crime motivated by gender and medical marijuana.