Landmark Decisions of the Supreme Court

On this day in 1803, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in the Marbury v. Madison case. In it, the Court determined that the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional and therefore void. In doing so, it established the basis for judicial review and solidified the role of checks and balances in American government.

To learn more about the Supreme Court and its history, try the following resources:


Celebrate Presidents' Day

To learn more about the presidency and the executive branch, try the following resources:


Presidential Elections that Shaped America

According to a national survey just released by the University of Louisville’s McConnell Center, the election of 1860 was the most significant in American history. The most controversial? The election of 2000 which pitted Vice President Al Gore against Texas Governor George W. Bush and taught the nation about "butterfly ballots" and "hanging chads." The full results of the survey, which polled 53 scholars considered experts on the U.S. presidency, campaigns, and elections, can be found here.


The Long Walk of Nelson Mandela

On this day in 1990, South Africa's Nelson Mandela was released after spending 27 years in prison. Mandela, who became a symbol of the anti-apartheid movement, was originally opposed to violence. However, following a massacre of unarmed black South Africans, he began to advocate for acts of sabotage against the government. After several arrests, in 1964 he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison. Mandela spent the next 18 years at the notorious Robben Island Prison before being moved to another location, where he lived under house arrest.

In the 1980s, international pressure calling for the Mandela's release built. Finally, in 1989, F.W. de Klerk was elected president of South Africa and began the work to end apartheid and transform the nation into a multi-racial democracy. In February 1990, he ordered Mandela's release from prison. Three years later, the two were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to "break the vicious circle that their country was caught up in."

The following year, in South Africa's first multi-racial election, Nelson Mandela won 62% of the votes. On May 10, 1994, he was inaugurated as the country's first black president.

To learn more about Nelson Mandela & the end of apartheid in South Africa, try the following resources:

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