Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
The Supreme Court held that the right to legal counsel, protected by the Sixth Amendment, was a right essential to justice. The decision ruled that any needy person accused of a felony must be given an attorney at the public’s expense. This case also applied the right to counsel to the actions of state governments through the doctrine of incorporation. Justice Hugo Black called the right to counsel “fundamental” and necessary for a fair trial.
The case touched on constitutional principles including due process, and civic values including individual efficacy and responsibility.