July 7, 1986: A Supreme Court decision gives schools the right to punish obscene speech
In Bethel School District v. Fraser, the Supreme Court upheld the punishment given by a Washington school to a student for the content used in a school speech. On April 26, 1983, Matthew Fraser gave a speech nominating a classmate for class president. The speech was filled with sexual innuendo, prompting school administration to take disciplinary action. Fraser was suspended for three days and prohibited from speaking at the school graduation ceremony. In the resulting lawsuit Fraser brought against the school, the court ruled in his favor, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated. However, after the school district asked the Supreme Court to hear the case, a judgment was passed that reversed the previous court's decision, finding that the action taken by the school toward disruptive behavior did not violate the First Amendment.
July 6, 1983: The Supreme Court upholds the death sentence for a racially motivated murder
In Barclay v. Florida, the Supreme Court agreed with a Florida court's decision to sentence a person to death for a racially motivated crime. The Court agreed that the combination of circumstances — the defendant's criminal record and the exceptionally sadistic nature of the crime — warranted the death penalty.
July 5, 1935: President Roosevelt signs the National Labor Relations Act into law
The National Labor Relations Act, also called the Wagner Act, allows for the protection of workers to form labor unions, engage in collective bargaining and participate in strikes. In addition, the National Labor Relations Board was established to investigate charges of unfair labor practices and organize elections by which workers could decide if they wanted to be represented by a union.
July 4, 1919: Congress approves the 19th Amendment
The 19th Amendment, approved July 4, 1919, gave women the right to vote under Constitutional protection. In 1918, President Wilson announced his support of the amendment, yet the proposal failed to receive enough support from the Senate in an October vote. However, after the 1919 elections resulted in a heavily pro-suffrage Congress, the amendment passed and was ratified Aug. 18, 1920.
July 3, 1989: The Supreme Court imposes restrictions on abortion assistance
The Supreme Court's decision July 3, 1989, in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services upheld a Missouri law that restricted state funds and facilities assisting with or counseling on abortions. Many felt the decision compromised abortion rights set by Roe v. Wade. A federal district court had overruled the Missouri law, but Missouri’s attorney general appealed the prohibition of its enforcement, leading to the Supreme Court ruling.