John S. Morgan is an attorney in Beaumont, Texas and the Founder of Morgan Law Firm. In the article below, John discusses landmark cases relating to civil law in Texas and other areas of the country.
From empowering women, to giving the press freedom, to guaranteeing the human right to express oneself, some civil trials have changed the nationwide consensus, along with the very fabric of the United States of America.
Historically, John S. Morgan reports that a handful of cases have transformed perspectives and gained a lot of public popularity. Whether it’s the 1989 Texas v. Johnson case or the much more recent Obergefell v. Hodges 2015 case, these landmark civil trials have altered the country and society forever.
John S. Morgan on Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Gregory Lee Johnson took part in a protest during the Republican National Convention in Dallas, Texas in 1984. It was here that Johnson set fire to the American flag, protesting capitalism and the conduct of the government.
Immediately upon igniting the flag, John explains he was arrested by the city’s police department for violating state law. He was fined $2,000 and sentenced to one year in prison.
Johnson appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeals of Texas, stating his action was protected under the First Amendment. The lower court overturned the decision to the Supreme Court.
Attorney John S. Morgan notes that the hearing took place in the Texas Supreme Court on March 21, 1989. Johnson believed the police department had violated his rights to speech and expression.
As a result of the hearing, Johnson found victory. The court’s 5- to -4 decision dictated that his civil and constitutional liberties were violated.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
John S. Morgan explains that a false report about a weapons disturbance led the police to enter a private residence where they found Tyron Garner and John Lawrence participating in a consensual sexual act.
Upon finding the two adult males, the Texas police arrested and convicted them under the state law that forbade two people of the same gender to have sex.
However, the case found its way to the Supreme Court, where they debated whether the couple’s 14th Amendment was violated.
In 2003, the Supreme Court held 6-3 that the state law violated their right to liberty. The Due Process Clause allowed them to engage in such acts without government intervention.
At the time, the outcome was considered a victory for LGBT rights. From this case alone, 14 state laws were overturned throughout the country, giving gay people the same marriage rights as others.
District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
John S. Morgan Attorney in Beaumont Texas reports that a security guard, Richard Heller, carried a gun for work but wasn’t allowed to have a firearm at home due to D.C.’s laws.
He believed that the laws were too restrictive and didn’t allow him to defend himself. Alongside five others, Heller sued, claiming it was a violation of the Second Amendment.
For the first time in 70 years, the Supreme Court ruled that the Second Amendment guaranteed his right to possess an at-home weapon for self-defense.
Eleven years later, former Justice John Paul Stevens stated the above was the worst decision he had made during his 34-year career. He now believes that the Constitution should be amended to overrule the case surprisingly.
Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
John S. Morgan Attorney in Beaumont Texas explains that Citizens United, a non-profit, created a film about Hilary Clinton and wanted to advertise it during the election. However, the Federal Election Campaign Act banned unions and businesses from funding advocacy during elections.
Therefore, Citizens United wasn’t allowed to show the film as it mentioned a presidential candidate. Of course, the organization argued that the ban was unconstitutional.
The case went to the Supreme Court, which ruled that corporations and unions can spend as much as they want to convince people to vote one way or another, provided they’re spending is independent of the candidates says John S. Morgan Attorney in Beaumont Texas. The ruling ensured organizations were protected under the right to free speech.
This one decision transformed U.S. politics. So much so that the 2014 senate elections witnessed outside spending double to $486 million from 2010.
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
The most recent transformative civil trial came about when John Arthur wanted his husband, James Obergefell, on his death certificate, but Ohio state didn’t permit it.
John S. Morgan Attorney in Beaumont Texas reports that together with three other couples, they sued their state, saying their 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause was in breach.
The Supreme Court held 5-4 that the 14th Amendment guarantees the right to marry, regardless of sexuality. Before this case, a whopping 13 states still banned gay marriage, representing a massive change for the country.