Precedents

154 ABA Journal Precedents articles.

March 7, 1859: Court confirms abolitionist’s conviction

Hearing that escaped slave Joshua Glover was being held in Milwaukee, Sherman Booth recruited a mob of abolitionist sympathizers who stormed the prison, freed Glover and placed him in hiding. Glover would later be transported to Canada, but for Booth the legal implications were only beginning.

May 4, 1970: Guardsmen kill 4 students at Kent State

The Vietnam War was not going well on April 30, 1970, when President Richard Nixon announced on national television that he had ordered American troops into Cambodia to destroy North…

April 8, 1952: Truman seizes steel mills

In November 1951, as the Korean War raged, steelworkers sought a new contract with the domestic industry. The industry, in turn, sought government approval for steep price increases, ostensibly to pay for new labor costs. Talks stalled.

Feb. 23, 1923: Justices hear a challenge to ‘English-only’ laws

On a May afternoon in 1920, a county prosecutor showed up at a one-room parochial school in rural Nebraska to watch a 10-year-old boy take part in a crime. The crime evolved from the fact that the boy was reading aloud in class in German. The boy’s teacher, Robert Meyer, was later charged with violating Nebraska’s Siman Act, for which he could face jail time and a fine.

Jan. 19, 1988: Woman wins the right to be homeless

Joyce Patricia Brown’s case had provoked national debate on the moral and ethical boundaries of dealing with homelessness and mental illness: Was the object to help the mentally ill or to clear affluent neighborhoods of human nuisance?

Dec. 17, 1798: The Senate convenes the first impeachment

Sen. William Blount was confronted in the Senate chambers with an extraordinary letter that detailed a plot devised by him and several other land speculators to help Britain gain control of Florida and Louisiana, then held by Spain.

Nov. 20, 1998: Kevorkian’s last suicide

On a Sunday evening in 1998, viewers of the perennially popular CBS news program 60 Minutes witnessed a videotaped death. Whether in horror or fascination, as many as 22 million…

Oct. 29, 1929: The Great Stock Market Crash shakes the nation

On Tuesday, Oct. 29, 1929, as much as $9 billion was lost on a volume of more than 16 million shares on the New York Stock Exchange alone. So much…

Sept. 24, 1964: Warren Commission reports on John F. Kennedy’s death

Conspiracy theories have not undermined the Warren commission report on John F. Kennedy’s death.

Aug. 10, 1964: Gulf of Tonkin resolution begins the Vietnam War

Flawed naval intelligence in 1964 leads to increased, prolonged U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

July 28, 1868: The 14th Amendment is ratified
After the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, the burden of rehabilitating a war-ravaged nation fell on Andrew Johnson. Though a Southern Democrat, Johnson had been tapped as Lincoln's running mate in…
June 8, 1968: James Earl Ray is captured
Shortly before noon on June 8, 1968, a British policeman stood at the passport desk at London's Heathrow Airport. Before him was an ordinary-looking middle-aged man in horn-rimmed glasses and…
May 8, 1973: American Indian Movement surrenders at Wounded Knee after 71-day standoff
By February 1973, unrest among Lakota residents of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota was coming to a boil. Though in office barely a year, the tribe's elected chief,…
April 16, 1947: Deadly ship explosions lead to first class action
Even before the end of World War II, the U.S. began to repurpose its wartime manufacturing for peacetime, and one of the first industries targeted was munitions production. As early…
March 14, 1984: The savings and loan crisis begins
On the morning of March 14, 1984, a team of federal regulators arrived at an inconspicuous strip mall in the eastern Dallas suburb of Mesquite to seize control of what…

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