Five Hilarious Supreme Court Cases

Five Hilarious Supreme Court Cases

These are the silliest cases to ever be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court

Since 1789 the United States Supreme Court has seen a surplus of cases; some more controversial than others. Cases like Roe v. Wade or Miranda v. Arizona have made a major impact in the present. However, this article is going to put the spotlight on five hilarious cases that have made its way to the highest federal court in the United States.

5. United States v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar

The first case on this list is very special in its own unique way. This Supreme Court case is one of those rare instances when an inanimate object, instead of an actual individual or a group of people. In U.S. v. Ninety-Five Barrels Alleged Apple Cider Vinegar manufacturer, Douglas Packing Company's secret to their apple cider vinegar was dehydrating fresh apples, the manufacturer would then re-hydrate those same apples with pure water, thus producing their vinegar.

The Supreme Court held that apple cider vinegar can be misleading to consumers. What exactly do I mean by this? Well, the label that was issued on said product indicated that the vinegar was made from "selected" apples.

4. Coates v. Cincinnati

In this strange case, the Supreme Court Justices were asked to define the word "annoying." Fast forward to 1956 the city of Cincinnati, Ohio passed local legislation, which states that "It shall be unlawful for three or more persons to assemble, except at a public meeting of citizens, on any of the sidewalks, street corners, vacant lots or mouths of alleys, and there conduct themselves in a manner annoying to persons passing by, or occupants of adjacent buildings "

Many students including the Plaintiff, Mr. Coates found it impossible for the city to determine what one individual might constitute as "annoying," which would make this law extremely broad and unconstitutional as it violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.

The court in Coates stroke down the law and held that “The ordinance before us makes a crime out of what under the Constitution cannot be a crime. It is aimed directly at activity protected by the Constitution. We need not lament that we do not have before us the details of the conduct found to be annoying.”

3. United States v. Causby

Up until 1946 American property owners would live by the phrase, Cuius est solum, eius est usque ad coelumet ad inferos, which is Latin for “whoever owns the soil, it’s theirs, all the way to heaven and hell." Yup, back then old English common law gave property owners the big thumbs up to do numerous things to their property such as mining or drilling for oil.

In U.S. v. Causby Thomas Lee Causby owned a chicken farm near a North Carolina military airstrip. Unfortunately, due to the sound of low-flying planes, many of Causby's chickens were startled, causing many chickens their untimely deaths. After losing 150 of his chickens, Causby was forced to give up his farm, he then turned around and sued the federal government, seeking compensation under the "takings clause" of the Fifth Amendment’s.

The court held that property does not extend indefinitely upward, thus eliminating "ad coelum," holding that "if the landowner is to have full enjoyment of the land, he must have exclusive control of the immediate reaches of the enveloping atmosphere."

Without this ruling, your favorite airline(s) would have to apply for thousands upon thousands of permits just to make those long distance flights. So thank you, Mr. Causby, (sorry about your chickens though).

2. Rowan v. United States Post Office Department

Don't you just hate that pesky junk mail? Don't you just wish you could just remove your name from the recipient list? Well, legally YOU CAN!

In 1967, the Postal Revenue and Federal Salary Act required all businesses to stop sending erotic material to individual households, so long as the recipient requested it. The appellants claimed that this act was a restriction on a businesses freedom of speech. Unfortunately for them, the court thought otherwise.

In Rowan v. U.S. Post Office Dept. the court held (1.) the statute allows the addressee unreviewable discretion to decide whether he wishes to receive any further material from a particular sender; (2.) a vendor does not have a constitutional right to send unwanted material into someone's home, and a mailer's right to communicate must stop at the mailbox of an unreceptive addressee; (3.) the statute comports with the Due Process Clause, as it provides for an administrative hearing if the sender violates the Postmaster General's prohibitory order, and a judicial hearing prior to issuance of any compliance order by a district court; and (4.) the statute does not violate due process by requiring that the sender removed the complaining addressee' name from his mailing lists, nor is the statute unconstitutionally vague, as the sender knows precisely what he must do when he receives a prohibitory order.

1. Nix v. Hedden

Ah, the million dollar question - "tomato: fruit? or a vegetable?" Now you can hear good reasons as to why a tomato is one and not the other, but according to this 1893 case tomatoes legally are considered "vegetables" under the Tariff Act of 1883.

Back during the 1880s, the Port of New York placed a tax on tomatoes as vegetables. The Nix family, who were known to import a surplus of tomatoes, sued to reclaim all the money they lost from the taxes they’d paid. The Nix family argued that a tomato was in fact, a fruit, with the textbook definition of fruit as one of the many pieces of evidence to prove their argument.

The court held that "the passages cited from the dictionaries define the word 'fruit' as the seed of plants, or that part of plants which contains the seed, and especially the juicy, pulpy products of certain plants, covering and containing the seed. These definitions have no tendency to show that tomatoes are 'fruit,' as distinguished from 'vegetables,' in common speech."

Popular Right Now

The Dangers Of Ideology And The Importance Of Free Speech & Debate

Universities are currently policing thought, indoctrinating students into a radical egalitarian ideology, and crushing dissenting opinion.

It’s truly amazing to consider how quickly the culture on college campuses has changed over the last several years. Once staunch defenders of speech and academic freedom, modern universities are quickly turning into ideological echo chambers, indoctrinating students into a radical left-wing egalitarian worldview, while crushing dissenting opinion.

The disturbingly Orwellian trend to quell free expression on campuses can best be illustrated by an event that unfolded last year at James Madison University’s freshman orientation, when “student leaders” distributed a list of 35 things that incoming students should avoid saying, including phrases such as “you have a pretty face,” “love the sinner, hate the sin,” “we’re all part of the human race,” “I treat all people the same,” “people just need to pick themselves up by their bootstraps,” among other expressions.

You might find yourself laughing this off as nonsense, an isolated set of events perpetuated by a select group of fringe radicals. Unfortunately, I can assure you that this is not an isolated incident. In addition to the slew of protests that erupted at universities last year in response to conservative speakers being invited to campus, these kinds of events are indicative of a larger, and more pernicious attempt by the radical left to control the linguistic territory.

At universities across America, the campus left now demands that people accept certain preconditions for discussion. Not the kind of reasonable preconditions such as “treat people with respect,” or “don’t resort to personal attacks.” Rather, It is demanded that you accept a neo-Marxian worldview, rooted in the notion that the world is nothing more than a power struggle between two groups of people: those who oppress and those who are oppressed. They demand that people accept notions like white-male privilege as axiomatic – not to be debated – and force people to acknowledge how they've been privileged by the current socio-economic structure.

Refusing to accept these presuppositions not only bars someone from participating in the discussion. To challenge an idea, such as white privilege, is to reject the fact that racism and bigotry exist in our society. To challenge the notion that being white necessarily means you must be more privileged than a person of color is akin to blasphemy. To push against the idea that certain classes of people in America are ‘victims of systemic oppression’ is to deny the humanity and individual experiences of people of color, women, and other minority groups.

The campus left emphatically espouse the notion that “the personal is political.” Thus they believe, unequivocally, that the primary responsibility of the University should be to ensure students from “diverse cultural backgrounds” feel safe – and by safe they mean “not having their identities challenged;” and by identities they are referring to their belief systems – the lens by which they perceive the word.

From the perspective of a radical leftist, to participate in debate is not seen as merely engaging in criticism of some abstract idea. To challenge an idea is to challenge someone’s identity, and to challenge someone’s identity is to debate their humanity.

And that is one of the axiomatic rules of the campus Left – you cannot debate someone’s humanity.

Indeed, with more than a fifth of college undergrads now believing its okay to use physical force to silence a speaker who makes “offensive or hurtful statement,” the future of the First Amendment itself is currently uncertain.

What exactly is so dangerous about this movement?

For starters, the freedom of speech has wrongly been construed as just another value that we in the West hold in high regard. But it is more than a Right that we share as citizens of this nation. It is, ultimately, the mechanism by which keep our psyches and societies functioning.

See, most people just aren’t that good at thinking. I don't mean this as a sleight against anyone, but we’re all insufficient and we have limited awareness of most things because we just can’t know everything. We rely on communication with one another to facilitate the process of learning about things outside our realm of knowledge. Often we have to, first, stumble around like the blithering idiots we are, espousing our biased beliefs in a public forum, and subjecting our ideas to criticism before we can properly orient our thoughts.

When the open exchange of ideas is allowed, you get the opportunity for multiple people to put forward their biased oversimplifications and engage in debate that raises the resolution of the particular question and answer at hand. Ideas are hit with hammers, combed for contradictions, inadequacies and even falsehoods. On an individual level, this kind of scrutiny sharpens the schema you use to navigate the world because other people can tell you things you can’t know by yourself.

Maybe it’s an opinion espoused, or a behavior that manifests itself, or a misconception you hold- in any event, subjecting your beliefs to criticism is, in the short term sometimes painful because we often learn things about the world and ourselves that are uncomfortable; but, in the long term, it is the only way method we have for moving closer towards something that more closely resembles truth – and if not anything true, at least something less wrong. As a result, the lens by which you look at the world becomes clearer.

Further, it is also through a collective process of dialectic that we identify problems in our societies, formulate solutions, and come to some sort of consensus.

Thus the right to say what you believe should not just considered as "just another value." It's a conical value, without which all the other values we hold dear, that people have fought so hard, in such an unlikely manner, to preserve and produce all disappear.

Without it, there can be no progress. Without it, individuals abdicate their responsibility to engage in the sacred process of discovery and renewal. Without it, we can’t think. Without it, there can be no truth. Without it, there can be nothing but nihilistic psychopathology. The end result is a populist that is not only afraid to say what they think, but that doesn't even know what they think because they haven’t been allowed to stumble around in the dark to find some tiny fragment of light.

Therefore, when we consider placing restrictions on the freedom of speech we must do so with the most extreme caution. By setting ridiculous preconditions for discussion, the campus left not only makes the process by which we solve the problems with our society more difficult, but also, if taken to its extreme, it can lead to totalitarianism.

In the wake of dozens of campus protests last year, universities are now in a position where they have to choose between two incompatible values: truth or social justice. The former will lead us to a greater understanding, while the latter can only divide.

Cover Image Credit: Teen Vogue

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Being An English Speaker Is A Privileged Status

Multi-lingual is the way to go

English is not the official language of the United States of America. But even if it was, a country apparently founded on the idea of valuing every citizen as a free individual could do a much better job welcoming people who do not speak English.

While it is natural that one language became the most common, and that this has simplified many processes, this same simplification is not afforded to those who do not speak the language.

Language barriers can reduce one’s job opportunities, meaning that even if one has degrees and plenty of experience, many jobs are simply not available. Many employers are unfortunately unaccepting of those who do not speak English fluently, and some even discriminate against those who do not natively speak English.

Education becomes extremely complex for non-English-speakers. On the student side, while many schools offer English as a Second Language programs, which is wonderful, it should be acknowledged that these students face more work and less support than students who are native English speakers. To add to this, if parents do not speak English, communication from the school or with teachers becomes harder to access.

One of the greatest privileges of English speakers lies in healthcare. They can be sure that they will find a doctor who speaks their language and can clearly explain their medical situation in that language. The same goes for psychologists, social workers, and others in the health professions.

This becomes especially complicated for those who speak languages that are not commonly studied.

A friend of mine who teaches was mentioning recently that while there are many students and families in her district who speak Arabic, there are so few people working in psychology, social work, or other support services who speak the language that for the district to access them is not only difficult but expensive.

This too often means that schools fail to offer students and parents speaking these less-commonly studied languages sufficient aid.

So what is the answer? To adopt English as an official language would be so wrong in our country full of diverse and wonderful languages, backgrounds, and cultures. Instead of attempting to make English more and more widespread, we should focus our efforts on ensuring that people in this country who do not speak English can receive all of the same support as those who do speak English.

Some of this lies in ensuring that systems and institutions offer resources in several languages and that employers will not discriminate against those who are not native English speakers.

Much of the solution, however, is on us, especially if we are students entering a people-oriented profession. In fact, in all professions, becoming multi-lingual does not merely open doors for us but creates a society where more people have access to the services they need.

Cover Image Credit: Maialisa

Related Content

Facebook Comments