American Government: Famous Court Cases

Created by jrsherman18 

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Civil Liberties

The personal guarantees and freedoms that the federal government cannot abridge by law, constitution, or judicial interpretation

Civil Rights

The government-protected rights of individuals against arbitrary or discriminatory treatment

Gitlow v. New York

The court ruled that States are not completely free to limit forms of political expression (1925): Free Speech

Near v. Minnesota

The court ruled that limiting a media outlets' ability to create scandal out of the news is unconstitutional (1931): Press

Palko v. Connecticut

The court ruled that protection against being tried twice for the same crime was not a fundamental right (1937): Double Jeopardy

Engel v. Vitale

The court ruled that a brief recitation of a nondenominational prayer in classrooms is unconstitutional (1962): Free Exercise

Lemon v. Kurtzman

The court rules on a three tiered system for judging whether state-sponsored religious activity is constitutional or not stating 1) Secular Purpose, 2) Neither Advances nor Inhibits Religion, 3) No Excessive Entanglement (1971): Prayer in Schools

Schneck v. U.S.

The court creates guidelines to distinguish between protected and unprotected speech, stating that the "words" used must bring about a "clear and present danger of eminent evils" (1919): Protected Speech

New York Times v. U.S.

The court rules that the releasing of top-secret Department of Defense papers to the New York Times was constitutional (1971): Government Press

Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District

The court ruled that high school students had the right to wear black armbands protesting the Vietnam War on school grounds (1969): School Speech

Miller v. California

The court rules on a three part test to determine obscenity before the court stating, 1) whether the work depicts, in a patiently offensive way, sexual conduct under state law, 2) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious artistic or literary merit, and 3) based on contemporary community standards, whether the work is in the prurient interest (1973): Obscenity

DeJonge v. Oregon

The court upheld that the right to peaceable assemble is a fundamental right (1937): Assembly

Dred Scott v. Sandford

The court ruled that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional (1857): State's Rights

D.C. v. Heller

The court rules that the 2nd Amendment protects an individual's right to own a firearm (2008): Right to Bear Arms

Habeas Corpus

A court order in which the judge requires authorities to prove that a prisoner is being held lawfully and that allows the prisoner to be freed if the judge is not persuaded by the government's case

Ex Post Facto Laws

A law that applies to actions committed before the law was passed.

Miranda v. Arizona

The court rules that those who are arrested of a felony or misdemeanor must know their rights upon incarceration, stating you must know you have the 1) the right to an attorney, 2) the right to remain silent, and that 3) anything the person says may be used against him/her in court (1966): Self-Incrimination

Weeks v. U.S.

The courts rule that anything seized in an investigation without a warrant cannot be used against the accused in court, creating the exclusionary rule (1914): Searches and Seizures [Upheld in Mapp v. Ohio (1961)]

Gideon v. Wainwright

The court overturns decision in Betts v. Brady, stating that every man/woman occurred has the right to an attorney with having to prove "special circumstances" (1963): Right to an Attorney

Furman v. Georgia

The court ruled that capital punishment is in violation with the 8th and 14th Amendments and therefore is classified as "cruel and unusual punishment" (1972): Cruel and Unusual Punishment

Griswold v. Connecticut

The court rules that the Connecticut statute preventing the sale of contraceptives to be unconstitutional because it violates Marital Privacy (1965): Abortion

Row v. Wade

The court ruled that women's right to privacy has been violated by the Texas State Law criminalizing abortion, but the court set up distinct guidelines for the abortion process stating, 1) In the 1st Trimester, the woman has an absolute right to her privacy, 2) In the 2nd Trimester, the state could intervene with a pregnancy to protect the woman's health, and in 3) The 3rd Trimester, the state's interests overrule the woman's privacy (1973): Abortion

Lawrence v. Texas

The court ruled that the Texas law criminalizing private sexual behavior was unconstitutional (2003): Privacy

Jim Crow Laws

Laws enacted by southern states that discriminated against blacks by creating "whites only" schools, theaters, hotels, and other public accommodations

Plessy v. Ferguson

The court ruled that separate, but equal accommodations didn't violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment (1896): Equal Protection

Brown v. Board of Education

The Supreme Court holds that school segregation is inherently unconstitutional because it violates the 14th Amendment equal protection clause (1954): Due Process

Civil Rights Act

In 1964, the Civil Rights Act was passed by Congress which outlawed discrimination in most facets of daily life

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