What was the Gideon v. Wainwright Supreme Court case about?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The significance of the rationale behind the Gideon vs. Wainwright case is that it was part of Chief Justice Warren's "due process revolution."  The case sequentially followed the pattern of other cases in this configuration in which Chief Justice Warren sought to use the power of the court to broadly reestablish and demarcate the conditions of due process that apply to all persons accused of a crime.  In this instance, the rationale of the case was to examine whether the Constitutional protection of a right to legal representation applies to all individuals.  In this case, Gideon was indigent and was unable to afford legal representation.  Due to his condition, he was forced to represent himself and the results did not turn out to his benefit.  In the case, the rationale sought to explore how the conditions of due process need to apply to all individuals regardless of socio- economic realities.  The Court ruled that wealth and privilege does not play a role in the maintenance of basic conditions of due process.  In doing so, the Court established its own notion of how due process is to be enjoyed by all of America's citizens, reflecting the rationale to redefine and reconceptualize the notion of due process.

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