McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
The Constitution's "necessary and proper" clause permits Congress to take actions when it is essential to a power that Congress has.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
The Constitution's commerce clause gives the national government exclusive power to regulate interstate commerce.
United States v. Lopez (1995)
The national government's power under the commerce clause does not permit it to regulate matters not directly related to interstate commerce(in this case, banning firearms in a school zone).
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
The Supreme Court says the First Amendment applies to states.
Palko v. Connecticut (1937)
The Supreme Court says that states must observe all "fundamental" liberties.
Schenk v. United States (1919)
Speech may be punished if it creates a clear-and-present-danger test of illegal acts.
Chaplinksy v. New Hampshire (1942)
"Fighting words" are not protected by the First
New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)
To libel a public figure, there must be "actual malice."
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
Public school students may wear armbands to class protesting against America's war in Vietnam when such display does not disrupt classes.
Miller v. California (1973)
Obscenity defined as appealing to prurient interests of an average person with materials that lack literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
There may not be a law to banning flag-burning.
Reno v. ACLU (1997)
A law that bands sending "incident" material to miners over the Internet is unconstitutional because "incident" is to vague and broad of a term.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Evidence illegally gathered by the police may not be used in a criminal trial.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1964)
Persons charged with a crime have a right to an attorney even if they cannot afford one.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Court describes ruling that police must give to arrested persons.
United States v. Leon (1984)
Illegally obtained evidence may be used in a trial if it was gathered in good faith without violating the principles of the Mapp v. Ohio decision.
Rasul v. Bush and Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)
Terrorist detainees must have access to a neutral court to decide if they are legally held.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Found a "right to privacy" in the Constitution that would ban any state law against selling contraceptives.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
State laws against abortion were unconstitutional.
Reed v. Reed (1971)
Gender discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
In a confused set of rival opinions, the decisive vote was cast by Justice Powell, who said that a quota-like ban on Bakke's admission was unconstitutional but that "diversity" was a legit goal that could be pursued by taking race into account.
Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)
Numerical benefits cannot be used to admit minorities into college, but race can be a "plus factor" in making those decisions.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003)
State law may not ban sexual relations between same-sex partners.
Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)
A private organization may ban gays from its membership.
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Held that a law limiting contributions to political campaigns was unconstitutional but that one restricting a candidate's expenditures of his or her own money was not.
McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2002)
Upheld a law prohibiting corporations and labor unions from running ads that mention candidates and their positions for over 60 days before a federal general election.
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
Though the president is entitled to receive confidential advice, he can be required to reveal material related to a criminal prosecution.
Nixon v. Fitzgerald (1982)
The president may not be sued while in office.
Clinton v. Jones (1997)
The president may be sued for actions taken before he became president.
U.S. v. Harris (1954)
The Constitution protects the lobbying of Congress, but the government may require information from groups that try to influence legislation.
Near v. Minnesota (1931)
Freedom of the press applies to state governments, so that they cannot impose prior restraint on newspapers.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Upheld judicial review on congressional acts
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)
The president does not have the authority to seize private steel mills even in wartime.
Union Electric Co. v. Environmental Protection Agency (1976)
EPA rules must be observed without regard to their cost or technological feasibility.
Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council (1984)
States should comply with EPA decisions, even if not explicitly authorized by statute, provided they are reasonable efforts to attain the goal of the law.
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
The Supreme Court upheld property rights over human rights. Slaves were considered "property."
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Separate but equal facilities were allowed and did not violate the "equal protection clause" in the Constitution.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson and the "separate but equal" doctrine & that separate schooling of the races was unconstitutional and demanded that schools desegregate with "all deliberate speed"
Lemon v. Kurzman (1971)
Struck down state funding for private religious schools.
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
Outlawed prayer in state-sponsored public schools.
Clinton v. City of New York (1998)
The Line-item Veto violates Article II of the Constitution and only governors retain the right to line-item veto.
Smith v. Allwright (1944)
Since political parties select candidates for public office , they may not exclude blacks from voting in their primary election.
Korematsu v. United States (1944)
Sending Japanese Americans to relocation centers during WWII was based on an acceptable military justification.
Reynolds v. U.S. (1878)
Restricted and banned polygamy
Wallace v. Jaffree (1985)
Moments of silence are unconstitutional
Oregon v. Smith (1990)
Restricted drug use in religious ceremonies
Weeks v. U.S. (1914)
"Exclusionary rule" for illegally gained evidence in federal courts.
Roper v. Simmons (2005)
Execution of children under 18 violates the 8th amendment.
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
Upheld Georgia death sentence of execution of 18 year-olds.
Baker v. Carr (1962)
All districts must be contiguous and touching.
Westberry v. Sanders (1964)
One person, one vote. All districts must be equal in POPULATION not AREA or SIZE.