Today’s Throwback Thursday commemorates three major Supreme Court decisions, all of which were levied on June 26th in years past.
The first of these decisions came down on June 26, 1997. In this, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Communications Decency Act violated the 1st Amendment to the Constitution. The CDA — also known by some as Congress’s response to the “great cyberporn panic of 1995” — was an attempt to regulate internet porn by stiffening regulations about indecency that could be available to children and obscenity. It was through the case of Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union that the CDA was tested in the court. The case was argued on March 19, 1997, with the June 26 decision striking down the law as unconstitutional.
Then, on June 26, 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Lawrence v. Texas that gender-based sodomy laws are unconstitutional. In this case, a 6-3 ruling meant that same-sex sodomy prohibitions in Texas, and by extension, those in 13 other states, were quashed. In short, the court held that intimate consensual sex acts were protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment, no matter the gender of the participants.
Finally, just one year ago, on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The case at hand, United States v. Windsor, concluded that DOMA was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the 5th Amendment. The 5-4 decision is still a topic of wide debate — and while it represented a landmark move celebrated by equal rights advocates nationwide, the ruling did not in fact forbid states from maintaining same sex marriage laws. Rather, the Court ruled that the federal government could not treat state-sanctioned heterosexual marriages differently than state-sanctioned same-sex marriages. The ruling affirmed state autonomy, equal protection and due process.
Other notable happenings on June 26 include FDR’s signing of the Federal Credit Union Act in 1954, and the announcement that scientists had completed the first survey of the entire human genome in 2000.