Jan. 22, 1973 – The Supreme Court Hands Down a Landmark Ruling in Roe vs. Wade
On Jan. 22, 1973 the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Roe vs. Wade, establishing that most abortion laws at the time violated a constitutional right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The ruling overturned all state and federal laws outlawing abortion that were inconsistent with its holdings. Roe vs. Wade quickly became one of the most politically significant cases to have passed through the Supreme Court.
Jan. 21, 1977 – President Carter Pardons All Vietnam Draft Dodgers
On Jan. 21, 1977 during his second day in office, President Jimmy Carter issued a pardon to all Vietnam draft dodgers who had either failed to register for the draft or had left the country in opposition to the war. The pardon applied to civilians convicted of violating the Military Selective Service Act between 1964 and 1973 and not to active duty military personnel that had gone AWOL during the war. Many veterans and critics were angered by the pardon, arguing that it encouraged future defiance of the draft. Carter supporters and amnesty groups applauded the President’s decision.
Jan. 20, 1801 – John Marshall Appointed to Chief Justice of the United States
On Jan. 20, 1801 John Marshall was appointed to the position of Chief Justice of the United States, having been nominated by President John Adams. John Marshall replaced Oliver Ellsworth as Chief Justice and also served as Secretary of State during President Adams’ term.
President Adams had originally nominated ex-Chief Justice John Jay to the position, but the offer was declined. As Chief Justice, Marshall transformed the manner in which the Supreme Court handed down decisions. Instead of each Justice authoring separate opinions, Marshall adopted the practice of handing down one opinion for the entire Court.
Jan. 19, 1999 – Gary Dellapenta Charged With Cyber-Stalking
On Jan. 19, 1999 Gary Dellapenta was charged in California with cyber-stalking after he repeatedly placed ads in a woman’s name soliciting sexual assault. Dellapenta used the internet to post the online ads as revenge for the rejection of his romantic advances. His identity as the perpetrator was found after the victim’s father responded to the ads, thus tracing the origin. Only weeks earlier, California had become the first state to ban cyber-stalking. Gary Dellapenta pled guilty and received a six year prison sentence.
Jan. 18, 1967 – Boston Strangler Sentenced to Life in Prison
On Jan. 18, 1967 Albert DeSalvo was sentenced to life in prison, having confessed to the unsolved murders of 13 women in the Boston area. Although many doubted DeSalvo’s confession, believing that the murders were the work of multiple individuals, he was able to describe the murder scenes in detail to the detectives. He had initially confessed the murders to a fellow inmate who in turn informed his attorney of DeSlavo’s claims. The month following his conviction, Albert DeSalvo escaped from Bridgewater State Hospital, turning himself in the next day. He was transferred to Walpole State Prison where he was found murdered six years later.