Chisholm v. Georgia
(1793) Citizens of one state have the right to sue another state in federal court.
Marbury v. Madison
(1803, Marshall) The court established its role as the arbiter of the constitutionality of federal laws, the principle is known as judicial review.
Fletcher v. Peck
(1810, Marshall) The decision stemmed from the Yazoo land cases, 1803, and upholds the sanctity of contracts. The court becomes arbiter of the constitutionality of state laws.
McCulloch v. Maryland
(1819, Marshall) The courts ruled that the states cannot tax the federal government, i.e. the Bank of the United States; the phrase "the power to tax is the power to destroy"; federal government is supreme to the states (supremacy clause); confirmed the constitutionality of the Bank of the United States (elastic clause).
Dartmouth College v. Woodward
(1819, Marshall) New Hampshire had attempted to take over Dartmouth Co,lege by revising its colonial charter. The court ruled that the charter was protected under the contract clause of the US Constitution; upholds the sanctity of contracts.
Cohens v. Virginia
(1821) This case upheld the Supreme Court's jurisdiction to review a state courts's decision where the case involved breaking federal laws.
Gibbons v. Ogden
(1824, Marshall) Clarified the commerce clause and affirmed congressional power over interstate commerce.
Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
(1831, Marshall) "The conditions of the Indians in relation to the United States is perhaps that of any two people in existence," Chief John Marshall wrote, "their relation to the United States resembles that of a ward to his guardian...(they were a) domestic dependent nation."
Worcester v. Georgia
(1832, Marshall) Established tribal autonomy within their boundaries, i.e. the tribes were "distinct political communities, having territorial boundaries within which their authority is exclusive."
Charles River v. Warren Bridge
(1837, Taney) THe interests of the communities are more important than the interests of business; the supremacy of society's interest over private interest.
Prigg v. Pennsylvania
(1842, Taney) Fugitive slave law supersedes personal liberty laws; supremacy clause.
Scott v. Sanford
(1857, Taney) Speaking for a widely divided court, Chief Justice Rodger Taney ruled that Dred Scott was not a citizen and had no standing in court; Scott's residence in a free state and territory had not made him free since he returned to Missouri; Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in a territory (based on the 5th Amendment right of a person to be secure from seizure of property), thus voiding the Missouri Compromise of 1820.
Ex Parte Merryman
(1861) A person cannot be denied a writ of habeas corpus if arrested; Lincoln maintained such denial was proper if public safety was threatened.
Ex Parte Milligan
(1866) Ruled that a civilian cannot be tried in military courts while civil courts are available.
Texas v. White
(1869) States cannot secede from the Union.
Civil Rights Cases of 1883
Legalized segregation with regard to private property.
Wabash, St. Louis, and Pacific Railway Co. v. Illinois
(1886) Declared state-passed Granger laws that regulated interstate commerce unconstitutional.
Pollock v. The Farmers' Loan and Trust Co.
(1895) Declared the income tax under the Wilson-Gorman Tariff to be unconstitutional.
U.S. v. E.C. Knight Co.
(1895) Due to a narrow interpretation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act, the Court undermined the authority of the federal government to act against monopolies.
Plessy v. Ferguson
(1896) Legalized segregation in publicly owned facilities on the basis of (separate but equal."
Possessions acquired in the Spanish-American War (specifically the Philippines) were no longer foreign countries but neither were they part of the U.S. They were territories controlled by Congress. Tariffs could be placed on products from these possessions and the peoples did not have the same rights as American citizens ("the Constitution does not follow the flag").
Lochner v. New York
(1905) Declared unconstitutional a New York act limiting the working hours of bakers due to a denial of the 14th Amendment rights.
Muller v. Oregon
(1908) First case to use the "Brandeis Brief"; recognized a 10-hour workday for laundry workers on the grounds of health and community concerns.
Hammer v. Dagenhart
(1918) Declared the Keating- Owen Act (a child labor act) unconstitutional on the grounds that it was invasion of state authority.
Scheneck v. U.S.
(1919) Unanimously upheld the Espionage Act of 1917 which declared that people who interfered with the war effort were subject to imprisonment; declared the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech was not absolute; free speech could be limited if its exercise presented a "clear and present danger."
Schechter v. U.S.
(1936) Sometimes called "the sick chicken case." Unanimously declared the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) unconstitutional on three grounds: that the act delegated legislative power to the executive; that there was a lack of constitutional authority for such legislation; and that it sought to regulate business that were wholly intrastate in character.
Korematsu v. U.S.
(1941) The court upheld the constitutionality of detention camps for Japanese-Americans during WWII.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
(1954, Warren) Overturned Plessy; integrated schools; "separate but equal" unconstitutional.
Mapp v. Ohio
(1961) Illegally obtained evidence is inadmissible in court.
Engel v. Vitale
(1962) No public school prayer.
Baker v. Carr
(1962) Gerrymandering unconstitutional. One man, one vote.
Gideon v. Wainwright
(1963) Extends to the defendant the right of counsel in all state and federal criminal trials regardless of their ability to pay.
Escobedo v. Illinois
(1964) Ruled that defendant must be allowed access to a lawyer before questioning by police.
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
(1964) The court said public officials may not win damages for defamatory statements regarding their official conduct unless they can prove actual "malice" that is, that the statements were made knowing that they were false of with reckless disregard of whether they were true of false.
Griswold v. Connecticut
(1965) Restriction on birth control violates the right to privacy. 9th Amendment.
Miranda v. Arizona
(1966) The court ruled that those subject to in-custody interrogation be advised of their constitutional right to an attorney and their right to remain silent.
New York Times v. United States
(1971) Dissolved an injunction against the NY Times that had restrained the publication of the Pentagon Papers.
Roe v. Wade
(1973) The court legalized abortion by ruling that state laws could not restrict it during the first three months of pregnancy. Based on 4th Amendment rights of a person to be secure in their person.
U.S. v. Nixon
(1974) The court rejected Richard Nixon's claim to an absolutely unqualified privilege against any judicial process.
Bakke v. Regents of the University of California
(1978) Ambiguous ruling by a badly divided court that dealt with affirmative action programs that used race as a basis of selecting participants. The court general upheld affirmative action, but with a 4/4/1 split, it was a very weak decision.
New Jersey v. T.L.O.
(1985) Searching students must only meet the level of reasonable suspicion as opposed to probable cause among the general public.