AP Government and Politics- My Picks for Replacing Roe v. Wade

Julius Olavarria | June 11, 2024

edweek.org

College Board’s AP Government and Politics had to drop Roe v. Wade as one of the 15 required Supreme Court cases following its reversal. In a 6-3 decision, Dobbs v. Jackson remanded abortion laws to the state. College Board now has to choose which case to replace Roe, and I have three top picks. As a student, these cases would serve their purpose and would teach students not just constitutional and judicial processes but moral and ethical codes and how the law shapes our government and country.


Chisholm v. Georgia is one of my top three picks. Decided in 1792, this was essentially the first Supreme Court case to matter. This case not only led to the addition of the 11th Amendment but established the way we view “state sovereignty”- the concept that each state in the union has unique and indivisible control over their citizens and weight in the union. Not just four years later, the Articles of Confederation loosely bound individual and autonomous states together, each functioning like 13 separate countries with different currencies, laws, taxes, and governments. National unity was nonexistent. Following the ratification of the Constitution, the gradual expansion of power to the federal government was underway, but as seen in the Chisholm decision, lines had to be drawn. We couldn’t give the federal government too much power. Similarly, we couldn’t give citizens too much power. Over time, it was proven that this case was necessary to create a functioning union.


Chisholm reaffirmed suits against the states, which led to the addition of the 11th Amendment. The dissenting opinion in this 4-1 decision provided that each state was sovereign, immune to suits from citizens unless explicitly allowed by the states. This is a principle known as sovereign immunity. 


This case would require students to dive deep into this principle, something that is vastly important and integral to our Constitution and government. This case would prompt a deep dive into what federalism actually means, something that adults today struggle to understand. They will also have to discover in what cases, and why, a state would allow citizens to sue. 


This would also require students to understand a basic principle- that justices interpret the laws differently, and that each justice is unique. The dissent was most important- it forces students to look at all opinions, even those not in the majority, weighing each consideration and interpretation with equal value and importance. In 1795, two years after Chisholm, the 11th Amendment reversed the decision. Understanding this case means one understands the role and balance of states and citizens, the concepts of sovereign immunity and federalism, and our early Supreme Court’s influence. 


Mapp v. Ohio is the second Supreme Court case that is worth considering. This redefined the Exclusionary Rule of the 4th Amendment, which states that all evidence obtained unconstitutionally manner is inadmissible in court. 


The decision in Mapp is a textbook example of “selective incorporation,” or the application of the Bill of Rights to the states. This key concept is not only evident in the decision in Mapp but in several other cases, which further builds student understanding. 


Criminal proceedings are vastly important- it is every citizen’s job to know their rights and freedoms. This case teaches American citizens their rights, the purpose of search warrants, and the 4th Amendment. It also compels students to dive deeper into the text of the Constitution, every clause and line is important and contains indivisble rights. 


It is also important to note that this was a very contested case at the time, even if the right seems obvious. If a police officer blunders in obtaining evidence (given that the officer’s case doesn’t fall under the “plain view” doctrine), then criminal evidence is nullified in court. They essentially get away with a crime because of a misstep in police procedure. 


Today, Clarance Thomas calls for a setback in the Exclusionary Rule, voicing his opinion in Collins v. Virginia in 2018. This may be held as extreme, though. He states that the rule is not constitutionally required, proving that there are alternate opinions to even the most basic of rights. 


Similarly, Miranda v. Arizona can be used in Mapp’s place. I consider this to be interchangeable with Mapp. This set rights for those being detained and questioned by officers. Ernesto Miranda confessed, upon being what was then legally pressured, to several crimes. He argued that he didn’t know his 5th Amendment rights, especially the right to remain silent and wait for legal counsel. 


4 judges dissented for what seems like a given, natural right, that one deserves to know his rights in a legal process. It shows that, in order to obtain the truth, we must balance between the defendant’s rights and the prosecution’s ability to fairly prosecute. 


Finally, New Jersey v. T.L.O is my third pick. This is a landmark case that students all across the country should know. The holding in New Jersey establishes that one should expect reduced privacy in schools, especially if there’s reasonable suspicion that a school code (or state law) is being violated. With majorities and dissents, students can make up their minds on how far their rights extend in their places of learning. 


T.L.O (Tracy Lois Odem) was reported by school staff to police officers, where she was charged with possessing and selling marijuana on school grounds. There is no doubt this is illegal, but does the Exclusionary Rule apply to this case? The principal and staff that searched her did not have a warrant. 


She sued the school and the case made it all the way up to the Supreme Court, where she was found guilty of her crimes. Her 4th Amendment rights were not infringed. 


The “reasonableness” standard was applied here, state courts now have to use this to determine if a student commits a crime in public schools. Yes, the 4th Amendment not only applies to law enforcement officers but public school officials too, both are extensions of the state. But, in situations when a school code is being violated, juveniles lose access to their 4th Amendment rights. In this case, the school officials acted reasonably.


In conclusion, these 3 cases serve unique functions. All of these cases would sufficiently and fully give students important lessons on fundamental rights, our Constitution, and American values. Ultimately, it’s up to the College Board to decide. I am eager to see what replaces Roe in the future. 


sources

oyez.org