The Supreme Court has now officially overruled Roe v Wade, allowing states to restrict the rights of pregnant people. When was the last time the Supreme Court came to a decision that reduced the rights of the people? Would like both a small example (e.g. the classic "yelling fire in a movie theater") example and a more impactful one (such as Plessy v Ferguson).

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    This is going to be opinion based as you are going to have people disagreeing about the rulings and if they limit civil liberties or not.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 14:42
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    I would downvote this loaded question if I could. Even though I'm pro-choice, you could easily argue that they were protecting pre-born people's right. Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 14:44
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    Most rulings do both, so it is hard to determine this.
    – Obie 2.0
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 14:56
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    I disagree, while you are saying that Roe v Wade is overturning civil liberties others are saying it upholds the civil liberties of unborn children. No matter how you look at it opposing sides of a ruling will see the results in a different light.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 15:08
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    The subject of "right to abortion" falls under human-rights, but the question asks about "civil liberties of people". Freedom of speech is human rights, while Plessy v Ferguson was civil rights. I think some clarification is in order.
    – Rick Smith
    Commented Jun 24, 2022 at 15:24

1 Answer 1


[As I had expected someone to have posted something by now, but I see nothing...] "Small examples" aren't going to be hard to find. Morse v. Frederick (2007) limited students' (1st amendment) rights to raise semi-funny "drug talk" posters on the opposite boardwalk of a school-sponsored event. (C-SPAN is usually as boring as it gets but in this case it's a lot more entertaining than Wikipedia's coverage. And "limited" here means that students can be [constitutionally] disciplined by the school, e.g. by suspension, for doing that.)

And since some commenters have dwelled on this: in US legal jargon "civil rights" and "civil liberties" are not synonymous. According to one viewpoint, free speech is a "civil liberty" but not a "civil right" (even though, ironically, some of the former are enumerated in the Bill of Rights.) In that vein, "civil rights" is a narrower notion that prohibits discrimination on a fairly narrow set of characteristics. And other than agreeing that they are not same notion, US legal compedia seem to even disagree what exactly "civil rights" are. On an alternative view, they include civil liberties.

  • Perhaps this isn't what the OP is looking for, but I would think the question is looking for "rights that were clearly and unambiguously recognized before, that were then revoked". Would this fit that, or is this just a refinement/clarification of a right which had never been specified as protecting this particular form of action? Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 14:39
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    @zibadawatimmy: the Q doesn't seem to me to make this narrowing that you see. Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 14:44
  • Out of curiousity, though, would this fit? Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 14:50
  • @zibadawatimmy: I see now that phoog has suggested in a comment (under the Q) that the Q be narrowed to the sense that you see. Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 15:11
  • @zibadawatimmy: Whether prior SCOTUS rulings created an expectation that that action would be constitutional is debatable. The ACLU argued (p.11) that it did so via Terminello (1949 -- a speech that resulted in a street riot was found protected) and Tinker (1969), although the supreme justices ultimately disagreed that Tinker could be interpreted... Commented Jun 25, 2022 at 18:58

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