Gideon Vs Wainwright Federalism

analytical Essay
1051 words
1051 words

According to Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet, federalism is “the independence of the states in our federal system of government” (Lewis 89). In other words, federalism is the state’s power to make decisions for itself rather than the federal government making decisions for every state. The fate of federalism is discussed in the Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright. In this case, Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested for burglary in Florida. When Gideon was tried, the court did not grant him a lawyer because, according to Florida state law, lawyers are only given in capital cases. Because Gideon believed he was not protected under the sixth amendment, he brought his case to the Supreme Court so that it can be decided if or if not all …show more content…

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that federalism is the state's power to make decisions for itself rather than the federal government making decisions.
  • Argues that federalism was not damaged in the decision of gideon v. wainwright, but it has been damaged by a definitive law that says everyone must have the right to counsel.
  • Explains that federalism was hindered by the decision in gideon v. wainwright because it reinforced the supreme court's authority over criminal procedure in all states.
  • Explains that the decision in gideon v. wainwright hindered federalism because it gave more rights to the individual people rather than the state government.

Wainwright was because it reinforced the Supreme Court’s authority over criminal procedure in all states. Before Gideon v. Wainwright, the Supreme Court’s decision in Powell v. Alabama established the Supreme Court’s power to apply to state criminal procedures. In Powell v. Alabama, nine black kids, the Scottsboro boys, were accused of raping two white women. In their trials, all of the children were sentenced to death. However, the attorneys representing them did not even consult with the children to truly represent them in the case. Therefore, many debated if the children were treated correctly under the Due Process Clause of the fourteenth amendment, giving the right to fair procedures for everyone. When Powell v. Alabama came to the Court in 1932 to see if the boys were given their constitutional rights, the Court voted 7-2 in favor of the idea that the boys were not given their constitutional rights. By making this decision, the Supreme Court “was doing something it had never done before--setting aside a state criminal conviction because the procedure used to obtain it was unfair” (Lewis 219). Powell v. Alabama started the hindering of federalism when it allowed the federal court system to make a counsel required for all cases involving the death penalty. However, when the Supreme Court decided Gideon v. Wainwright, its jurisdiction was established and federalism’s presence in the criminal justice …show more content…

Wainwright also hindered federalism because it gave more rights to the individual people rather than the state government. After the Gideon v. Wainwright decision, Tobias Simon, a lawyer from the Florida Civil Liberties Union that offered to represent Gideon the second time the case was tried, reflected on the fact that “‘in the future, the name “Gideon” will stand for the great principle that the poor are entitled to the same type of justice as are those who are able to afford counsel’” (Lewis 239). Rather than before where the states decided what an accused person’s fate is when deciding if he or she should have a counsel, the power is shifted to the individual: it is his or her decision if he or she wants a lawyer. Furthermore, it is guaranteed to every individual, regardless of identity. Because “the poorest and least powerful of men--a convict with not even a friend to visit him in prison-- can take his cause to the highest court in the land and bring about a fundamental change in the law”, the state courts’ authority to determine right from wrong is diminished because any individual can fight it by bringing it to the Supreme Court’s attention, just like Clarence Earl Gideon did (Lewis 218). Every individual now has the power to address a problem created by the courts and the power to determine if they want a lawyer to help them, which, in turn,

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