Supreme Court Cases

Schenck v. United States (1917)

Justice Oliver Wendell Homes articulated the "clear and present danger" test in which the government has the right to interfere with free speech if it poses a threat to others (Falsely yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater is an example of prohibited speec

Chisholm v. Georgia (1793)

Held that states did not enjoy sovereign immunity from lawsuits brought by residents of other states (Overruled by the 11th Amendment-provides that states may not be sued in federal court by citizens of another state or country without the consent of the

Smith v. Allwright (1944)

The denying of African Americans the right to vote in a primary election was found to be a violation of the 15th Amendment

Wesberry v. Sanders (1963)

Ordered House districts to be near as equal as possible--enshrined the principle of "one man, one vote

Buckley v. Valeo (1976)

The court ruled that giving money to a political campaign was a form of free speech and threw out some stringent federal regulations on fund-raising and election spending

Shaw v. Reno (1993) & Miller v. Johnson (1995)

Race cannot be the sole or predominant factor in redrawing legislative district boundaries. Shaw v. Reno-North Carolina's District 12-racial gerrymandering-invalidated the district because boundaries were neither contiguous nor compact and were drawn with

U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995)

States cannot set term limits on members of Congress

Bush v. Gore (2000)

Florida recount in the election of 2000 was ruled to be a violation of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause

Clinton v. New York City

The Court struck down the line-item veto as unconstitutional delegation of legislative authority to the president (Clinton)

INS v. Chadha (1983)

Congress would write legislation giving the president broad powers to act but reserve to itself the right to void presidential actions by a vote of one or both houses. This legislative veto was declared unconstitutional

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Established judicial review (the right to judge the constitutionality of laws)-under John Marshall, the 4th Chief Justice (a Federalist who worked to increase the powers of the federal government over states)

Fletcher v. Peck (1810)

The first case in which the Court overturned a state law on constitutional grounds. Fletcher established the Court's right to apply judicial review to state laws (previously it had only applied to federal laws)

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

The Court ruled that states did not have the power to tax the national bank (and, by extension, the federal government). This decision reinforced the supremacy clause. Established a precedent of federal courts using judicial review to strike down Congress

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Ruled that the state of New York could not grant a steamship company a monopoly to operate on an interstate waterway, even though that waterway ran through New York. Increased federal power over interstate commerce by implying that anything concerning int

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

Determined that the Bill of Rights restricted the national government but not the states governments. In 1925 this was overturned this ruling, citing the 14th Amendment restrictions on the states

Gitlow v. New York

Concerned freedom of speech and freedom of the press. Ruled that state limits on speech and the press could not exceed the limits allowed the national government. Created the "Bad Tendency Doctrine," which held that speech could be restricted even if it o

Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

Students in an Iowa school were suspended for wearing black armbands to protest the Vietnam war. Ruled that this suspension was unconstitutional, and that public school students do not "shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.

Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)

Gave public school officials the authority to suspend students for speech considered to be lewd or indecent

Hustler Magazine v. Falwell (1988)

Intentional infliction of emotional distress was permissible First Amendment speech--so long as such speech was about a public official, and could not reasonable be construed to state actual facts about its subject

Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Johnson established that burning the American flag is an example of permissible free speech, and struck down numerous anti-flag burning laws

Morse v. Frederick (2007)

Known as the "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" Limited students' free speech rights. Ruled that Frederick's free speech rights were not violated by his suspension over what the majority's written opinion called a "sophomoric" banner

Miller v. California (1973)

Court established a three-part obscenity test: Would the average person, applying community standards, judge the work as appealing primarily to people's baser sexual instincts?; Does the work lack other value, or is it also of literacy, artistic, politica

Near v. Minnesota (1931)

Near established that state injunctions to prevent publication violate the free press provision of the 1st Amendment and are unconstitutional. Selectively incorporates freedom of the press and prevents prior restraint

New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)

If a newspaper prints an article that turns out to be false but that the newspaper thought was true at the time of publication, the newspaper has not committed libel.

New York Times v. United States (1971)

Government can almost never use prior restraint (crossing out sections of an article before publication)-protections for the press were established here. Defense Department employee Daniel Ellsburg leaked some confidential files indicating that the war in

Hazelwood School v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Held that school officials have sweeping authority to regulate free speech in student run newspapers

Thornhill v. Alabama (1940)

Labor union strikes are lawful

Cox v. New Hampshire (1941)

When a group of Jehovah's Witnesses were arrested for marching in New Hampshire without a permit, they claimed that permits themselves were an unconstitutional abridgment of their 1st Amendment freedoms. Court held that cities and towns could legitimately

Lloyd Corporation v. Tanner (1972)

Allowed owners of a shopping mall to throw out people protesting the Vietnam War--key: malls are private spaces, not public

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)

Private organizations' First Amendment right of expressive association allows them to choose their own membership and expel members based on their sexual orientation even if such discrimination would otherwise be prohibited by anti-discrimination legislat

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

This cause dealt with state laws intending to give money to religious schools or causes. In deciding whether a law violates the establishment clause a three-part test is used called the Lemon Test: Does the law have a secular, rather than a religious, pur

Engel v. Vitale (1962)

Prohibited state-sponsored recitation of prayer in public schools

Abington School District v. Schempp (1963)

Decided that the Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment forbids state-mandated reading of the Bible, or recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools

Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)

Prohibited states form banning the teaching of evolution in public schools (since such bans were religiously motivated)

Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

Dealt with the Amish community's desire to pull their children from public school before the age of 16 so that they could help with farm and domestic work. The Court sided with the Amish and held that parents may remove children from public school for rel

Employment Division v. Smith (1990)

Case determined that the state could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired for violating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, even though the use of the drug was part of a religious ritual. Stats may accommodate otherwise illegal acts done in

Weeks v. U.S. (1914)

Established the Exclusionary Rule, which held that illegally obtained evidence could not be used in federal court

Powell v. Alabama (1932)

Court ruled that state governments must provide counsel in cases involving the death penalty to those who can't afford it

Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

Extended the Exclusionary Rule to the states, increasing the protections for defendants

Betts v. Brady (1942)

Established that state governments did not have to provide lawyers to indigent defendants in capital cases

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

States may not deprive accused felons of their right to legal counsel. Powerful repudiation of Betts v. Brady. Governments must provide an attorney in all cases for those who can't afford one

Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)

Warren Court: any defendant who asked for a lawyer had to have one granted to him--or any confession garnered after that point would be inadmissible in court

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Warren Court: All defendants must be informed of all their legal rights before they are arrested

Furman v. Georgia (1972)

Found that the imposition of capital punishment was often racist and arbitrary. Court ordered a halt to all death penalty punishments in the nation until a less arbitrary method of sentencing was found

Woodson v. North Carolina (1976)

North Carolina tried to satisfy Court's requirement that capital punishment not be arbitrary, so they made it a mandatory punishment for certain crimes--Court rejected this approach and ruled mandatory death sentences as unconstitutional

Gregg v. Georgia (1976)

Georgia was finally able to convince the Court that it had come up with a fair system for trying capital offenses. Court ruled that under adequate guidelines the death penalty did not, in fact, constitute cruel and unusual punishment. Allowed the resumpti

Atkins v. Virginia (2002)

Forbade the execution of defendants who are mentally retarded

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

Right to privacy was established. Justice William O. Douglas noted that Amendments like the 3rd, 4th, and 9th all case "penumbras and emanations" which showed that the Founder really had intended a right to privacy

Roe v. Wade (1973)

(A subset of the Griswold decision); Established national abortion guidelines by extending the inferred right of privacy from Griswold

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1987)

Gave states more power to regulate abortion

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

A Pennsylvania law that would have required a woman to notify her husband before getting an abortion was thrown out, but laws calling for parental consent and the imposition of a 24 hour waiting period were upheld. States can regulate abortion but not wit

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

Struck down sodomy law that had criminalized homosexual sex in Texas. Previously this had been addressed in Bowers v. Hardwick (1986) where it did not find constitutional protection of sexual privacy. Lawrence overruled Bowers saying that consensual sexua

Plessey v. Ferguson (1896)

Allowed Southern states to twist the Equal Protection clause of the 14th Amendment by allowing "separate but equal" facilities based on race

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)

Unanimous court led by Chief Justice Earl Warren ruled the doctrine of "separate but equal" to be unconstitutional

Brown v. Board 2nd (1955)

Brown II ordered schools to desegregate "with all due and deliberate speed

Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964)

The affirmation of the power of Congress, through the use of the commerce clause, to end segregation by law in the US

Katzenbach v. McClung (1964)

Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places. Established that the power of Congress to regulate interstate commerce extends to state discrimination statutes. Ruling made Civil Rights Act of 1964 apply to virtually all businesses

Regents of University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Alan Bakke was a white applicant who was rejected from medical school because of an affirmative action plan to boost the number of black students. Court ruled that Bakke had been unfairly excluded and that quotas requiring a certain percentage of minoriti

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003) & Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)

University of Michigan Law School & University of Michigan undergraduate school. Both used affirmative action, undergraduate school gave minority applicants a large boost in the score used by officers deciding on admission. Court threw out undergraduate s

South Dakota v. Dole (1987)

Mandated that the 21-year old drinking age by threatening to withhold federal highway funds from all states that did not comply. Said to be constitutional

United States v. Lopez (1995)

Commerce clause of Constitution does not give Congress the power to regulate guns near state-operated schools

Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Ruled that American citizens of Japanese descent could be interned and deprived of basic constitutional rights due to executive order

U.S. v. Nixon (1974)

Congress claimed that there was no such thing as executive privilege as it went after tapes that President Nixon had made of all his conversations in the Oval Office. Court disagreed and allowed for executive privileges however they forbid its usage in cr