Latinos and American Law

Latinos and American Law

CARLOS R. SOLTERO
Copyright Date: 2006
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7560/713109
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    Latinos and American Law
    Book Description:

    To achieve justice and equal protection under the law, Latinos have turned to the U.S. court system to assert and defend their rights. Some of these cases have reached the United States Supreme Court, whose rulings over more than a century have both expanded and restricted the legal rights of Latinos, creating a complex terrain of power relations between the U.S. government and the country's now-largest ethnic minority. To map this legal landscape,Latinos and American Lawexamines fourteen landmark Supreme Court cases that have significantly affected Latino rights, fromBotiller v. Dominguezin 1889 toAlexander v. Sandovalin 2001.

    Carlos Soltero organizes his study chronologically, looking at one or more decisions handed down by the Fuller Court (1888-1910), the Taft Court (1921-1930), the Warren Court (1953-1969), the Burger Court (1969-1986), and the Rehnquist Court (1986-2005). For each case, he opens with historical and legal background on the issues involved and then thoroughly discusses the opinion(s) rendered by the justices. He also offers an analysis of each decision's significance, as well as subsequent developments that have affected its impact. Through these case studies, Soltero demonstrates that in dealing with Latinos over issues such as education, the administration of criminal justice, voting rights, employment, and immigration, the Supreme Court has more often mirrored, rather than led, the attitudes and politics of the larger U.S. society.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79575-4
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    Latinos and American Lawdiscusses the historical significance of some landmark cases of the country’s highest court involving Latinos/Hispanics. Of interest are not only the rulings themselves, but also the interaction between Latino/Hispanic individuals and communities in the United States and the American legal system. Through areas such as education, the administration of criminal justice, voting rights, employment, and immigration, those legally trained as well as non-lawyer readers will gain a greater appreciation of the subtle complexities of the issues facing Latinos and their interactions with the American legal system. Relatively few books have addressed how the legal system has...

  5. A. THE FULLER COURT (1888–1910)
    • 1 Botiller v. Dominguez (1889), Mexican Land Grants, and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo
      (pp. 9-16)

      Nemecio Dominguez and Domingo Carrillo, Mexican citizens, obtained a land grant dated October 1, 1834, from the Mexican government over a tract of land in Los Angeles County known as Rancho Las Virgenes. The land title transferred to Apolonio Dominguez, who died and left the ranch to his daughter, Dominga Dominguez. Sixty-five years after the initial land grant, Ms. Dominguez fought at the United States Supreme Court to keep the land she had inherited from her ancestors in the landmark case involving Latinos in the American legal system,Botiller v. Dominguez(1889).

      In 1889, the United States celebrated the centennial...

  6. B. THE TAFT COURT (1921–1930)
    • 2 Balzac v. Porto [sic] Rico (1922), the Insular Cases (1901), and Puerto Rico’s Status in the American Legal System
      (pp. 19-34)

      On July 25, 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the United States Navy invaded Puerto Rico. The United States has owned Puerto Rico ever since. United States troops met minimal resistance when invading Puerto Rico. Some referred to it as a “military picnic.”¹ The Treaty of Paris, signed on December 10, 1898, formally and legally ended the Spanish-American War and ceded Puerto Rico to the United States.² Unlike the Philippines, Puerto Rico saw comparably little or no “guerilla” warfare after the invasion.

      From the U.S. perspective, the most serious and bloodiest chapter in America’s decisive, successful, and bloody military history, the...

  7. C. THE WARREN COURT (1953–1969)
    • 3 Hernandez v. Texas (1954) and the Exclusion of Mexican-Americans from Grand Juries
      (pp. 37-47)

      In 1954, the Supreme Court, under the leadership of Earl Warren, whom President Eisenhower appointed as Chief Justice in 1953, rendered its most significant opinion of the twentieth century,Brown v. Board of Education.Brownheld that separate, segregated public schools could not be equal and that state-sponsored segregated schools violated the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. This chapter focuses on the case that literally and physically precedesBrownin the official Supreme Court reporter,Hernandez v. Texas(1954). LikeBrown,Hernandezinvolved an equal protection challenge, and likeBrownthe Court spoke unanimously through Chief Justice Warren.

      The Warren Court...

    • 4 Katzenbach v. Morgan (1966) and Voting Rights of Puerto Ricans with Limited English Proficiency
      (pp. 48-60)

      The right to vote in elections and participate in electing representatives is a hallmark of citizenship in the United States. The history of voting rights in the United States can fairly be characterized as a slow expansion of including the categories of people entitled to full and equal status to participate in American democracy. Remarkably, there have only been twenty-seven amendments to the Constitution since its enactment in 1789, over two hundred years ago. Of those twenty-seven amendments, eight relate to voting issues,¹ three of which were necessary to establish as part of the fundamental, constitutional law of the land...

    • 5 Miranda v. Arizona (1966) and the Rights of the Criminally Accused
      (pp. 61-74)

      Miranda v. Arizona(1966), or at least its central holding, is the most widely known Supreme Court opinion featured in this book. Anyone having seen a movie or television series depicting an arrest after 1966 has probably heard what has become widely known as the “Mirandawarnings”: the arrested person has the right to remain silent, anything the arrested person says can and will be used against that person in a court of law, the arrested has the right to an attorney, and if that person cannot afford one, the state will provide one. Apart from the warnings themselves,Miranda...

  8. D. THE BURGER COURT (1969–1986)
    • 6 San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez (1973) and the Search for Equality in School Funding
      (pp. 77-94)

      Rodriguez v. San Antonio Independent School District(1973) involves a constitutional challenge to inequitable public school financing in Texas. Unlike most other cases in this book,Rodriguezis frequently taught in law school constitutional law classes because of its central holdings that (1) poor people or people discriminated against on the basis of absence of wealth are not an identifiable class and (2) education is not a “fundamental right” for equal protection purposes.

      Rodriguezappeared before the Court in 1973, almost two decades afterBrown. Although the Court had been dealing with numerous school cases on how to implementBrown,...

    • 7 Espinoza v. Farah Mfg. Co. (1973) and “National Origin” Discrimination in Employment
      (pp. 95-106)

      On July 19, 1969, Cecilia Espinoza, a lawfully admitted resident alien born in Mexico who resided in San Antonio, Texas, with her husband, Rudolfo Espinoza, a United States citizen, sought employment as a seamstress at the San Antonio division of Farah Manufacturing Co., headquartered in El Paso, Texas, known for manufacturing pants and other clothes. At the time she applied for the job at Farah, she was a Mexican citizen, although she lived in Texas in full compliance with immigration laws. Farah rejected Ms. Espinoza’s employment application on the basis of a longstanding company policy against employing aliens. She decided...

    • 8 United States v. Brignoni-Ponce (1975), Law and Order on the Border
      (pp. 107-117)

      “Racial profiling” became a popular phrase and politically charged issue in the late 1990s throughout the United States. For Mexican-Americans living in border areas, as well as other Latinos and Americans, “racial profiling,” or the notion that law enforcement personnel use a person’s physical appearance as it relates to stereotypical perceptions of an ethnic or racial group as a basis for deciding likelihood of illegal activity, had been in practice long before the 1990s. Prior to 1924, immigration laws in the United States were limited, as were enforcement and exclusion. In fact, large numbers of people living in the United...

    • 9 Plyler v. Doe (1982) and Educating Children of Illegal Aliens
      (pp. 118-132)

      The controversialPlyler v. Doe(1982) case resulted from a convergence of factors during the 1970s and early 1980s. At its core,Plylerraised the question of who should pay to educate children whose parents migrated to the United States “illegally,” without proper immigration documents or compliance with federal immigration laws. First, beginning with FDR’s New Deal, and accelerating in the post–World War II era, particularly after LBJ’s “Great Society,” benefits or “entitlements” that the federal government and state governments became obligated to provide to citizens and those legally residing in the United States increased dramatically. Foremost among those...

  9. E. THE REHNQUIST COURT (1986–2005)
    • 10 INS v. Cardoza-Fonseca (1987), Refugees, and Political Asylum
      (pp. 135-144)

      As discussed in the introductory chapter, the Latino/Hispanic classification includes a diverse group of people with diverse backgrounds and issues. The number of people considered as Latino/Hispanic has increased not just through birth rates inside the United States, but also through migration from Latin American countries. Prior to 1980, the largest ethnic groups comprising Latinos in the United States were Mexican-Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans. Migration from Mexico continues and has been discussed extensively elsewhere and in sections in this book involving alien issues (legal, resident aliens and “illegal” aliens; Chapters 7–9); Mexican immigration involves complex issues, but the...

    • 11 U.S. v. Verdugo-Urquidez (1990) and Limits to the Applicability of the Bill of Rights Geographically and as to Only “The People”
      (pp. 145-156)

      Throughout the 1980s violent crime in the United States and drug smuggling into the country was on the rise.¹ Increasing drug prosecutions, the “war on drugs,” and the proliferation of all types of guns, including semi-automatic weapons, in urban centers and in schools, altered public perceptions of crime. Congress responded by federalizing more crimes, as through the passage of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1993.² As one senator said:

      Americans are sick and tired of a criminal justice system that is not working. They want to know why a murderer is on the streets and not...

    • 12 Hernandez v. New York (1991) and the Exclusion of Bilingual Jurors
      (pp. 157-170)

      In 1954, a Mexican-American named Pete Hernandez successfully challenged exclusionary and discriminatory practices against Mexican-Americans in the selection of grand juries inHernandez v. Texas(1954) (Chapter 3). Almost forty years later, Dionisio Hernandez (no relation) raised the issue of allegedly discriminatory practices against Hispanics in the selection of “petit” juries before the United States Supreme Court in a markedly different context and environment. InHernandez v. New York(1991), the Supreme Court considered whether a prosecutor’s intentional exclusion of bilingual Latino jurors because of their ethnicity/national origin and/or Spanish-speaking ability violated the Equal Protection Clause.

      Just twenty years prior...

    • 13 Johnson v. DeGrandy (1994), Cuban-Americans, and Voting Rights in the American Legal System
      (pp. 171-184)

      Miguel DeGrandy and other Hispanic voters filed suit in a federal court in Miami on the first day of Florida’s 1992 legislative session, complaining that Florida officials (including the speaker of the house at the time, Bolley Johnson, the senate’s president, and Governor Lawton Chiles) had malapportioned the voting districts in state elections in Florida. Mr. DeGrandy and his co-plaintiffs sought to maximize the influence of Cuban-American and other Hispanic voters in Florida to elect as many representatives from different districts to the Florida Senate and Florida House of Representatives. At oral argument before the Court, C. Allen Foster, counsel...

    • 14 Alexander v. Sandoval (2001), Title VI, and the Court’s Refusal to Consider the Validity of English-Only Laws or Rules
      (pp. 185-194)

      Although English is the language of the United States, consistent with the concept of a limited federal government, the United States Constitution (written in English) is silent with respect to a government-mandated “official” language. States and other jurisdictions subject to United States control and rule (e.g., Puerto Rico) have had official languages over the last 230 years. At various times, English-language orthodoxy has been viewed as synonymous with, or at least a necessary component of, being “American” or a patriotic American. For instance, during the World War I and post–World War I eras, the anti-German sentiment throughout portions of...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 195-200)

    Landmark decisions are generally those that significantly change existing law. Another sense of “landmark” involves features of land, such as monuments or other markers setting up boundaries or having historical significance. This book has dealt with both senses of the term “landmark.” Within the larger category of landmark cases that have significantly changed existing law, the focus has been on those that either directly involved Latinos/Hispanics (e.g.,Miranda) or established the markers by which Latinos/Hispanics have been categorized and treated in the American legal system.

    InBotiller v. Dominguez(1889), the Fuller Court (1888–1910) effectively ruled that good title...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 201-216)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 217-222)
  13. List of Cases
    (pp. 223-228)
  14. Cases Mentioned
    (pp. 229-232)
  15. General Index
    (pp. 233-240)