The Warren, Burger and Rehnquist Supreme Courts

Compare and Contrast Paper

Words 1,200

Summary

This paper compares and contrasts the Warren, Burger and Rehnquist Supreme Courts and looks at one major decision each court made and the decision’s impact on the legislative and executive powers as well as how it affects states governments’ accountability to its citizens or states’ rights.

From the Paper

In the early 1950s, America was becoming a place concerned with social change and freedom. During the same period, the Warren Supreme Court (1953-1969) reflected these changes. The next court, the Burger Court (1969-1986) upheld and built on the change that had already begun. Both courts subscribed to a new idea, that the United States Constitution was a living, breathing document, meant to change with the times. In 1986, a new court emerged the Rehnquist Court. This court went back to the idea that the way the founding fathers drafted the Constitution was not only relevant in the early years of the United States, but relative and valid in the 20th and 21st centuries.

This paper compares and contrasts these courts and looks at one major decision each court made and the decision’s impact on the legislative and executive powers as well as how it affects states governments’ accountability to its citizens or states’ rights.

The Warren Court

The Warren Court 1953-1969 was the court most concerned with social change. Authors such as Harvard Professor Morton J. Horowitz in his book, The Warren Court and the Pursuit of Justice states that it is “increasingly recognized as a unique and revolutionary chapter in American Constitutional history (5).” He says this because the Court “regularly handed down opinions that have transformed American constitutional doctrine and, in turn, profoundly affected American society.” The transformation began with Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which declared racial segregation as unconstitutional. Other important cases were Engel v Vitale (1962) and Abington School District v. Schempp (1963). These cases called on the First Amendment’s Establishment clause—“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” to extend not only to Congress but to any governmental authority, creating a wall of separation between church and state.

In writing for the Law Journal (2001). E. Joshua Rosenkranz writes in an op-ed piece that Justice Brennan states that the 1962 landmark case Baker v. Carr, was one of the most powerful case that said that a voter could bring constitutional challenge under the equal protection clause, to a state’s legislative districting with different populations in order to “increase the voting power of some communities at the expense of others.”

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