Day-By-Day Walk Through US Legal History: November

1 November 1765 – The commencement date of the British Stamp Act, which was the first attempt by the British Parliament to impose direct tax duties on the American colonies. The tax was to help pay for soldiers stationed in North America, although Americans claimed that the presence of the soldiers was unnecessary.

2 November 1951 – President Truman signed into law the ‘Boggs Act’, which amended the Narcotic Drugs Import and export Act and set a minimum federal sentence for drug offences.

3 November 1964 – President Lyndon B. Johnson was elected President in his own right. He defeated Republican candidate Barry Goldwater, winning 61.1% of the popular vote.

4 November 2008 – Barack Obama was elected the 44th President of the United States. He went on to serve two terms and was the first black President of the US.

5 November 1872 – The women’s rights activist Susan B. Anthony voted illegally in the New York Congressional district election. At that time, women did not have the right to vote. She was taken before a court and fined $100 after a directed verdict.

6 November 1917 – A constitutional amendment was passed in the state of New York that was to give women the right to vote.

7 November 1973 – Congress passed the War Powers Resolution, overriding the veto of President Nixon. The Act was in response to the Vietnam War and aimed to clarify the roles and powers of the Executive and the Legislative branches to deploy troops in times of conflict.

8 November 1960 – John F. Kennedy, the Senator for Massachusetts, defeated Vice President Richard M. Nixon and became President of the United States.

9 November 1970 – In the case Massachusetts v Laird, the supreme Supreme Court decided to hear the case of Massachusetts’s anti-draft law. The law had permitted its citizens, even if they had been drafted, to refuse to fight in a war that had not been declared. The 1st Circuit found the law unconstitutional, and the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

10 November 1919 – In Abrams v United States the Supreme Court ruled that during wartime the United States federal government could criminalize speech if it tended towards harmful results, for example resisting the war effort in WWI.

11 November 1889 – Washington becomes the 42nd state in the Union.

12 November 1999 – The Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 is enacted and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The Act undid laws from the depression era that prohibited commercial banks, investment banks, security firms and insurance companies from consolidating.

13 November 1956 – The Supreme Court in Browder v Gayle struck down laws in Montgomery, Alabama that segregated people using public buses based on race, finding that they were unconstitutional.

14 November 1995 – Conflicts between President Bill Clinton and the Republican Congress came to head and the government shut-down after Clinton vetoed a spending bill that Congress sent him. Non-essential services were suspended until 19 November, and the government operated with the minimum number of staff.

15 November 1777 – The Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union are created. All thirteen original states in the U.S.A were to agree to the Articles and they were to serve as the countries first Constitution.

16 November 1973 – President Nixon authorized the construction of the controversial Alaskan Pipeline when he signed the Trans-Alaska Authorization Act. The Act also halted legal challenges, mostly environmental, that had been filed against the Pipeline.

17 November 1777 – The Articles of Confederation were submitted to the states for ratification.

18 November 2003 – The highest court in Massachusetts in Goodridge v Department of Health declared that barring a person from the benefits of civil marriage based on them wanting to marry a person of the same sex violated the Massachusetts Constitution. The first marriage licenses were issued to same sex couples in May 2004.

19 November 1794 – US Chief Justice John Jay and the British foreign secretary, Lord Grenville, sign the Jay Treaty. Under the treaty the British forces were to pull out of the Northwest Territory.

20 November 1925 – Robert F. Kennedy was born. He went on to become Senator for New York and the US Attorney General, and was assassinated during his campaign for the presidency in 1968.

21 November 1620 – The Mayflower Compact was written and signed by the new settlers in New Plymouth after crossing the Atlantic on the Mayflower. It was the first document to govern Plymouth Colony, and set the basis for laws in the New World.

22 November 1963 – President John F. Kennedy was assassinated whilst in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as his replacement, and the 36th President of the United States, later that day.

23 November 1921 – President Harding signs into law the Willis-Campbell Act, which prohibited doctors from prescribing beer of liquor to patients for medicinal purposes.

24 November 1784 – Zachary Taylor was born. He went on to become the 12th President of the United States.  

25 November 2003 – The Senate gave its final approval to a bill to change Medicare to include a new prescription drug benefit and control costs before the Baby Boomers reached the age of retirement.

26 November 1942 – President Franklin D. Roosevelt orders gasoline rationing across the nation so as to limit the driving time of US citizens and thus save rubber – a scarce resource at the time – from wearing out on car tires.

27 November 1973 – The US Senate votes 92-3 to confirm Gerald Ford as Vice-President of the United States. This was the first time the 25th Amendment to the Constitution was invoked, as it established proceedings for replacing the Vice-President.

28 November 1871 – The South Carolina Klu Klux Clan trials begin before a US Circuit Court in Columbia. The charges included conspiracy to prevent blacks from voting, and conspiracy to oppress, threaten and intimidate blacks who had exercised their right to vote in 1870.

29 November 1963 – President Lyndon Johnson named a commission – ‘The Warren Commission’ – headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren to investigate the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

30 November 1993 – The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act was signed into law by President Bill Clinton. The Act mandated federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the US and imposed a waiting period of five-days for purchases.