153 ABA Journal Precedents articles.

May 14, 1969: The Spectacular Fall of Abe Fortas
March 9, 1916: Pancho Villa’s Battle of Columbus
Nov. 18, 1883: US railroads enact standard time zones

The Providence & Worcester Railroad wreck was one of 11 major railroad accidents that killed 121 people in 1853. For decades after the P&W disaster, notions of time and timetables remained local and, for the most part, chaotic. By 1883, railroads were using 56 different time standards to schedule trains nationwide. A new system, designed on a time set by the U.S. Naval Observatory, took effect Nov. 18, 1883.

Oct. 2, 1780: John Andre executed

John Andre, a British army major during the American Revolution, was held in esteem as an officer and a gentleman, though he would be sentenced to death—with great regret—as a spy.

Aug. 6, 1890: First execution by electric chair

As an opponent of capital punishment, Thomas Edison had no interest in pursuing capital electrocution. Still, Edison found a way to benefit.

June 18, 1923: Marcus Garvey convicted of mail fraud

Marcus Mosiah Garvey Jr. was certainly a radical—but one of his own peculiar brand. Neither anarchist nor Bolshevik, Garvey was drawn to Booker T. Washington’s self-reliance philosophy, which he sought to merge with Pan-Africanism and the “Back to Africa” movement.

May 9, 1960: FDA approves first birth control pill

When the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was asked to approve Enovid for contraception, the “birth control pill” had already proved highly effective. But with legal and moral objections, a regulatory storm was gathering.

April 6, 1841: John Tyler inaugurates precedential succession

On the death of President William Henry Harrison, Vice President John Tyler set a precedent when he made it clear that he planned to fully assume the office.

March 28, 1978: Supreme Court weighs in on judicial immunity, reluctantly

Linda Sparkman learned years later that she had been sterilized at age 15. The U.S. Supreme Court faced a constitutional question in hearing the case against the judge that authorized the procedure.

A tale of two silver markets—and two disasters

Rivalry between gold and silver touched off the Panic of 1893. Speculation roared back in 1980, when the billionaire Hunt brothers nearly cornered the silver market.

Dec. 2, 1892: Grand jury indicts Lizzie Borden

In November 1892, Fall River, Massachusetts, was an unremarkable New England mill town with a very remarkable problem: What to do with Lizzie Borden?

Nov. 22, 1926: The first Teapot Dome criminal trial begins

Albert B. Fall, secretary of the Interior under Warren G. Harding, was acquitted on charges of conspiracy to defraud the government, along with oilman Edward Doheny and his son, Edward Doheny Jr.

Oct. 6, 1949: ‘Tokyo Rose’ convicted of treason

Wartime radio propagandist Iva D’Aquino was pardoned by President Gerald Ford in 1977. She died in 2006 at age 90.

Sept. 19, 1952: US pushes Charlie Chaplin into exile

Charlie Chaplin was the subject of intense FBI scrutiny, public attacks by influential politicians, defamatory press accounts, national boycotts by citizenship groups, and criminal charges tied to his relationship with a young actress.

Aug. 22, 1984: Flag Burning Tests the Law

Justice Antonin Scalia joined Justice William Brennan’s majority opinion in a case that probed tensions between free speech and patriotism.

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