The Supreme Court - Essay Prowess

The Supreme Court


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1. The Supreme Court often makes final judgments on a wide variety of cases. How does their decision

affect the legislative review of the law or statute that was involved in the final decision? Discuss some of

the ramifications of this decision based on other social issues occurring at the time. When researching

and analyzing the issue of past judicial review; related to history of the court protecting the rights of the

mentally ill.  It was apparent that there as very little done health revise legislature related to this issue.

The earliest court involvement in this matter took place in the 1970’s; At this time there was substantial

lawmaking efforts initiated. The purpose of this initiative was “securing the liberties of persons in the

mental health process”. However, as of recent there has been very little accomplished by the US

legislature and regulatory agencies in behalf of this effort. This has left the responsibility of providing

equality and justice for matters pertaining to the mentally disabled (local state and federal court


The issue is,  though there are various unspecified provisions outlined in the US Constitution, the major

basis for court decision, has been individual interpretation of the US Constitution, examination of

evidence and the outcome of other litigations.  Because of this fact , the application of caselaw; has

been influential in  the creation of federal statutes and regulations. In addition, many trial cases appear

to have undergone appellate review. The data reviewed, is inclusive of federal courts of appeal and state

supreme courts.

A case that is pertinent to this debate is O’Connor v. Donaldson, this case was decided by the

Supreme Court in 1975, and was  the first “civil” mental case to reach the Court on the merits. “All

previous cases involved persons who had first been involved in the criminal process, and then been

diverted to the mental health system either because of incompetency to stand trial or commitment

after conviction to a “therapeutic,” rather than punitive, but decided them on procedural grounds or

summarily denied review or affirmed.” (U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit – 493 F.2d 507 (5th Cir.

1974)).  Another case that can be referenced is  The Kenneth Donaldson case of 1957  due to the fact

the that it emphasizes; the right to treatment. In this case the plaintiff Kenneth Donaldson, was

committed to Chattahoochee State Hospital in Florida and released 141/2 years later after filing for

release. To summarize, suit was filed on the grounds that he was reported as being denied treatment,

this right is implied but not specified by the 14th amendment of the US Constitution. “The Fifth Circuit

affirmed in a Far reaching opinion which elaborated a constitutional theory of the right to treatment.”

(493 F.2d 507 (5th Cir. 1974)).

The result was that the court declined to acknowledge the right-to-treatment issue; hence

this is why there is a need for the revision of legislation, related to mental health treatment provisions.

This type of situation, has been an ongoing issue since the 50’s and it deserves more attention from the

federal and state government. The failure of The Supreme Court, review more cases pertaining to that

of mental illness and make decisions that will contribute to case law research; which will be valuable to

argue the need for legislative revisions. Because of this failure on behalf of the judicial system, cases

such as that of Matthew Adjibade and Tony Lester reflect the future of community and judicial relations without the proper legislation.

In both cases, these individuals were  mistreated, neglected and killed within the legal system. This is  

indicative of the current dissatisfactory state of progress in relation to this matter.  The judicial system

and proof of the detriment of the mentally ill, points back at the hands of the judicial/legal system.

There must be more done now! To protect this underserved population and the civil rights of these

individuals. The implementation of legislature can only be accomplished and enforced with the help of

the judicial system. The pros of this implementation will be the reduction of the following:

·          risk of suicide 

·         risk for both psychiatric and medical hospitalization 

·         Exacerbation of physical problems

·         Alcohol and/or drug abuse or dependence

·         Wrongful Incarceration or inappropriate punishment for crimes

·         Homelessness

·         Use of excessive force when detaining indivduals

·         Mistreatment of inmates with mental illness

·         Refusal of medical services and health management

·         Improper Restraint and Documentation procedure

The Cons are that the implementation of legislature, revised policies and procedures and mental health screening process and community education. Will require more manpower and time. This may decrease operational production. But it will save lives.