Important Supreme Court Cases

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1868)

Supreme court ruled that segregation public places facilities were legal as long as the facilities were equal

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Decision holding that school segregation was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the 14th Amendment's guarantee of equal protection - marked the end of legal segregation in the United States

Engel v. Vitale (1962)

Prohibited state-sponsored recitation of prayer in public schools by virtue of 1st Amendment's establishment clause and the 14th Amendment's due process clause (Warren)

Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Supreme Court held that criminal suspects must be informed of their right to consult with an attorney and of their right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police (Warren)

Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)

Guaranteed a student's right to protest (wearing armbands) as long as it is not offensive, distracting or inappropriate in a school setting (Warren)

Swan v. Charlotte-Mecklenberg Board of Education (1971)

integrated busing for schools (Burger)

Roe v. Wade (1972)

Using the concept of being "secure in their persons," the Supreme Court ruled that abortions are constitutionally protected. It set up a trimester system allowing unrestricted abortions in the first trimester but regulated abortions during the second trimester and allowed the states to ban abortion during the third trimester unless the mother's or baby's life was endangered. This decision has been most controversial and set the stage for a national debate (Burger)

Bakke v. University of California (1978)

a reverse discrimination case in which the Court declared the University's quota system for minority students to be unconstitutional while it at the same time upheld the legitimacy of affirmative action (but not racial quotas) policies in which institutions consider race as a factor when determining admissions (Burger)

New Jersey v. TLO (1985)

Supreme court case in which it was decided that a student may be searched if there is "reasonable suspicion" for doing so (Burger)

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

States can regulate abortion, but not with regulations that impose "undue burden" upon women; did not overturn Roe v. Wade, but gave states more leeway in regulating abortion (e.g., 24-hour waiting period, parental consent for minors) (Ranquest)

Bush v. Gore (2000)

The court ruled that manual recounts of presidential ballots in the Nov. 2000 election because of issues with voting booths and time zones could not proceed because inconsistent evaluation standards in different counties violated the equal protection clause. In effect, the ruling meant Bush would win the election (Ranquest)

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

A case in which Chief Justice John Marshall and his associates first asserted the right of the Supreme Court to determine the meaning of the U.S. Constitution. The decision established the Court's power of judicial review over acts of Congress, (the Judiciary Act of 1789)

Cohens v. Virginia (1821)

Cohens found guilty of selling illegal lottery tickets and convicted, but taken to supreme court, and Marshall asserted right of Supreme Court to review decisions of state supreme court decisions.

McCullough v. Maryland (1819)

In establishing a national bank, Congress was legally exercising its enumerated powers not specifically mentioned in the Constitution.

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

This case involved New York trying to grant a monopoly on waterway trade between New York and New Jersey. Judge Marshall, of the Supreme Court, sternly reminded the state of New York that the Constitution gives Congress alone the control of interstate commerce. Marshall's decision was a major blow on states' rights.

Fletcher v. Peck (1810)

Supreme Court case which protected property rights and asserted the right to invalidate state laws in conflict with the Constitution

Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)

By construing the Contract Clause as a means of protecting corporate charters from state interventions, Marshall derived a significant constitutional limitation on state authority. Various forms of private economic and social activity would enjoy security from state regulatory policy. Encouraged the emergence of the relatively unregulated private economic actor as the major participant in a growing national economy.

Martin v. Mott (1827)

Upheld Congress delegating to the President the power to call forth a state militia and place it under federal officers.

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