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Historical Glossary

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Adkins v. Children's Hospital

On 9 April 1923, the Supreme Court struck down (5–3) a 1918 US law allowing the District of Columbia Wage Board to set minimum salaries for women and children, as a price-fixing measure violating the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments' guarantee to negotiate free contracts. On 1 June 1936, in Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo, the Court ruled (5–4) that all minimum wage laws violated due process. West Coast Hotel Company v. Parrish overruled these decisions.

Administration of Justice Act

 (20 May 1774)    Parliament passed this law in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party. In cases where a royal soldier or civil officer was accused of a crime punishable by death in Mass., the trial could be transferred to Britain or another colony if the governor believed public prejudices would not permit a fair trial in Mass. It was dubbed the “Murder Act” in the colonies and considered one of the Intolerable Acts.

Admiralty courts

Under British law, the High Court of Admiralty had jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases concerning foreign trade and the merchant marine. Beyond London, Vice-admiralty courts heard maritime cases. All verdicts were given by a judge sitting without a jury. Vice-admiralty courts were established in the thirteen colonies after 1696; although they had jurisdiction over the Navigation acts, they did not try smuggling cases—which were heard in common law courts with juries—until the Sugar Act.

Advice and Consent

Article II provides that Presidents may nominate judges and high-level executive branch officers and negotiate treaties with the "Advice and Consent of the Senate." The Constitution is clear about what constitutes "consent" (it requires a majority of the Senate to approve a nominee and two- thirds of the Senate to consent to a treaty) but ambiguous on "advice," leading to frequent quarrels with Presidents who acted without consulting with the Senate. The House plays no role in the advice and consent process. Under the Constitution, presidential nominations for executive and judicial posts take effect only when confirmed by the Senate, and international treaties become effective only when the Senate approves them by a two-thirds vote.

affirmative action

This concept originated as a means of eliminating racial prejudice in hiring to comply with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act (1964) either voluntarily or in consequence of a lawsuit. By providing compensatory advantages to disadvantaged minorities or fixing specific goals to hire nonwhites, affirmative action plans sparked complaints that they inflicted reverse discrimination upon whites by hiring according to racial quotas regardless of personal merit. The Supreme Court ruled on this issue in Regents of University of California v.  Bakke, United Steelworkers of America et al. v. Weber, and  Wygant v.  Jackson Board of Education.