Fifty years later, Warren’s attitude toward the role of the court would still be at issue. In the confirmation hearings of Justice Samuel Alito, Alito told the Senate that he believed in the “rule of law” not judicial activism. (Babington A01). Alito said a judge "can't have any preferred outcome in any particular case. " (Babington A01). Warren would have disagreed. He successfully argued for the rights of the populace, no matter what the rule of law. In another landmark case, Miranda v. Arizona, Warren again wrote the majority opinion for the court.
He wrote, “the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination. " (“Landmark Cases” Miranda v. Arizona). In yet another decision disputed to this day, the Warren Court also held that mandatory school prayer was a violation of students’ right to freedom of religion. “For many years, a particular ritual marked the beginning of each school day all across America.
Teachers led their students through the Pledge of Allegiance, a short prayer, the singing of "America" or "The Star-Spangled Banner," and possibly some readings from the Bible. The choice of ritual varied according to state law, local custom and the preferences of individual teachers or principals. ” (“Introduction to Engel v. Vitale” 1) Warren did not right the opinion of the court in this case, but he did vote with the majority, saying that even a non-denominational prayer violated the “establishment” clause of the First Amendment and that schools could not require a prayer at the beginning of the school day.
Other controversial cases involving the Warren court abound, including a redistricting case that took power away from rural voters and ascertained the idea of one man, one vote and a Texas case that allowed Mexican-Americans to serve on juries (Cray 107-142). The Warren Court greatly expanded the interpretation of the U. S. Constitution to the broadest possible terms and the expansionism of the power of the Court.
Historically, the court had rarely been used to change social policy, but in Brown v. the Board of Education, the court took a prominent role in changing American society. In other cases before the Warren Court, they established the previously unknown right to privacy claiming that the rights assured in the Bill of Rights were examples, not a laundry list of the only rights available to citizens (Warren 204). The Warren Court also established the role of the Supreme Court as the supreme law of the land including investigational authority when Warren was named to head up the commission investigating the assassination of John Kennedy.
And, on a personal level, the rulings of the Warren court demonstrated a man’s ability to change his perspective with time and see the Constitution as an every-changing document to be interpreted with the times. In his memories, Warren wrote that he regretted his role in the internment of Japanese-Americans and that he believed it was a violation of their civil rights, but he acknowledged that times had changed. During the war, America was not ready for equal rights for everyone, even though they were guaranteed them (Warren 215). In short, probably no single man has had such a great influence on the interpretation of the U. S. Constitution in the 20th century as Earl Warren. He stepped out of the narrow lines of strict constructionalism and moved to judicial activism and the concept of the Constitution as a living, breathing document. He wanted the Constitution to adapt to the needs of a nation going through growing pains and so he made it do what he wanted.
Babington, Charles and Amy Goldstein. “Alito Stresses ‘Rule of Law’ in opening Statement” Washington Post, January 10, 2006; Page A01 Cray, Ed. Chief Justice: A Biography of Earl Warren. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1997. “History of the Supreme Court”