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Brief synopsis of major Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history. These have been included in past AP exams, so you probably should know them.

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Supreme Court case in which the court asserted the power of judicial review in finding that a congressional statute extending the Court's original jurisdiction was unconstitutional.

McCullouch v. Maryland (1819)

Case in which the Supreme Court upheld the power of the national government and denied the right of a state to tax a national bank. The court's broad interpretation of the "necessary and proper" clause paved the way for later rulings upholding expansive federal powers

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Case where the Supreme Court upheld broad Congressional power to regulate interstate commerce.

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

Case in which the Supreme Court ruled that the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment did not apply to the actions of states. This decision limited the Bill of Rights to the actions of Congress alone.

Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

Case in which the Supreme Court concluded that the U.S. Congress lacked the constitutional authority to bar slavery in territories because slaves were considered property. This decision narrowed the scope of national power, while enhancing power of the states.

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that "separate but equal" accommodations did not violate the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment.

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, KS (1954)

Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson "separate but equal" ruling. The supreme Court ruled that school segregation is unconstitutional because it violates the 14th amendment's guarantee of equal protection, marking the end of segregation in the United States.

Brown v. Board of Education II (1955)

Laid out the process for school desegregation and established the concept of dismantling segregationist systems "with all deliberate speed."

U.S. v. Lopez (1995)

The Supreme Court ruled that regulating guns did not fall within the scope of the commerce clause, and therefore was not within the power of the federal government. Only states have the authority to ban guns in school zones.

Kimel v. Board of Regents (2000)

Supreme Court ruled that states are immune from suits by individuals alleging age discrimination in state government employment, because age may impact ability to effectively do the tasks associated with the job.

Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010)

The Supreme Court ruled that corporations and unions can't be banned from spending money on a political campaign. Citing the First Amendment, the Supreme Court says corporations and unions have the same rights as individuals.

Shaw v. Reno (1993)

Supreme Court case that ruled racial gerrymandering is unconstitutional. Race cannot be the sole or predominant factor in redrawing legislative boundaries; majority-minority districts.

Bush v. Vera (1996)

Supreme Court case that determined redistricting plans in Texas were claimed to be racial gerrymandering. The Supreme Court ruled that the plans were in violation of the 14th Amendment and the Voting Rights Act.

U.S. v. Nixon (1974)

In a case involving President Richard M. Nixon's refusal to turn over tape recordings of his conversations, the Supreme Court ruled that executive privilege does not grant the president an absolute right to secure all presidential documents.

Baker v. Carr (1962)

Watershed case establishing the principle of one person, one vote, which requires that each legislative district within a state have the same number of eligible voters so that representation is equitably based on population.

New York Times Co. v. United States (1971)

The Court ruled that the US government could not prevent newspapers from publishing portions of the Pentagon Papers (classified documents) that revealed how the US had become in the Vietnam War. Stated that an attempt by the government to prevent expression carried a heavy presumption against its constitutionality.

Martin v. Hunter's Lessee (1816)

Supreme Court ruling stating that the Supreme Court can review the decisions of the highest state courts if they involve a federal law or the federal Constitution.

Abington School District v. Schempp (1963)

The Court ruled that state mandated Bible reading or recitation of the Lord's prayer in public schools was unconstitutional.

Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)

Supreme Court ruled that speech that does not call for illegal action is protected, and even speech that does call for illegal action is protected if the action is not "imminent" or there is reason to believe that the listeners will not take action. Established the imminent lawless action test for free speech.

Buckley v. Valeo (1976)

a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States upheld federal limits on campaign contributions and ruled that spending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech. The court also stated candidates can give unlimited amounts of money to their own campaigns.

Chisholm v. Georgia (1793)

The Court interpreted its jurisdiction under Article III, section 2, of the Constitution to include the right to hear suits brought by a citizen of one state against another state.

Bush v. Gore (2000)

Case that ordered the counting of disputed ballots in Florida must stop, effectively deciding the 2000 presidential election in favor of George W. Bush.

District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)

The Supreme Court ruled that D.C's ban on handgun ownership was unconstitutional. Ruled that individuals have the right to possess a firearm.

Engel v. Vitale (1962)

The Supreme Court ruled that the recitation of prayer in school classrooms was unconstitutional and a violation of the establishment clause.

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that a defendant in a felony trial must be provided a lawyer free of charge if the defendant cannot afford one.

Gitlow v. New York (1925)

Incorporated free speech clause of first amendment, ruling that states were not completely free to limit forms of political expression.

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)

The Court struck down the University of Michigan's undergraduate point system, which gave minority applicants automatic points because they were minorities.

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

Established the Constitution's implied right to privacy.

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)

The Supreme Court voted to uphold the University of Michigan Law School's affirmative action policy, which gave preference to minority students.

Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Supreme Court decision that upheld as constitutional the internment of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent in encampments during World War II. Very well known example of judicial restraint.

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

Overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and declared a state law banning consensual sexual relations among homosexuals to be an unconstitutional intrusion on the right to privacy.

Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

The Court determined that direct government assistance to religions schools is unconstitutional. In the majority opinion, the court created the Lemon Test, which is used to decide if a law is in violation of the establishment clause.

Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

Incorporated a portion of the 14th Amendment by establishing that illegally obtained evidence may not be used in a trial.

Miranda V. Arizona (1966)

The court determined that through the Fifth Amendment, individuals that are arrested have to be advised of their right to remain silent and to have counsel present.

Near v. Minnesota (1931)

The Supreme Court incorporated the free press provision of the First Amendment.

New York Times Co. v. Sullivan (1964)

In this case, the Supreme Court ruled that simply publishing a defamatory falsehood is not enough to justify a libel judgement. "Actual Malice" must be proved to support a finding of libel against a public figure.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992)

Upheld Roe v. Wade. A state may place reasonable limits that do not place an undue burden on a women's right to have an abortion (24 hour waiting period and require parental consent for minors is allowable).

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Banned the use of race-based quotas for college admissions but allowed race to be considered as a fairly weighed element in the selection process.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

Determined that a woman's right to an abortion was protected by the right of privacy that could be implied from specific guarantees found in the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment.

Schenk v. United States (1919)

Supreme Court case which said freedom of speech could be revoked if it posed "a clear and present danger" to the nation. Established "clear and present danger" test.

Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Supreme Court ruled that burning the American flag is protected by the first amendment.

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District (1969)

The Court upheld students' rights to express themselves by wearing black armbands symbolizing protest to the Vietnam War. Established that students' rights did not stop at school gates.

Powell v. Alabama (1932)

The Supreme Court ruled here that the right to counsel was required by law in death penalty trials.

Miller v. California (1973)

Supreme Court decision that avoided defining obscenity by holding that community standards be used to determine whether material is obscene in terms of appealing to a "prurient interest" and being "patently offensive" and lacking in value

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. States may accommodate otherwise illegal acts done in pursuit of religious beliefs, they are not required to do so though.

National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sibelius (2012)

Case in which the Supreme Court upheld most of the provisions of the Affordable Healthcare Act (Obamacare) as Constitutional.

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