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Politics of the United States
Important US Supreme Court Cases
Terms in this set (50)
Abington School District v. Schempp (1963)
Establishment Clause; Helf unconstitutional a state law requiring the school day to begin with a reading of a Biblical passage and reciting the Lord's Prayer.
Agostini v. Felton (1997)
Establishment Clause; Helf constitutional a program that send public school teachers to students in parochial schools in order to provide remedial education services.
Bethel School District v. Fraser (1986)
Freedom of Speech; School officials can punish a students for statements made in a speech at school.
Barron v. Baltimore (1833)
Non-Incorporation Doctrine; The Bill of Rights only applied to actions by the federal government, not the states.
Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)
Gay Rights; Consensual homosexual acts performed in a person's home are not protected under the constitutional right of privacy.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
De Jure Segregation; The "separate but equal" doctrine as it applies to public education is unconstitutional; separate schools are inherently unequal.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka II (1955)
De Jure Segregation; Desegregation plans to be developed by local school boards with oversight by federal district courts; desegregation to proceed with "all deliberate speed."
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Freedom of Speech; Upheld the limits on individual contributions to political campaigns in federal election provided for in the 1974 amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act, but declared unconstitutional the limits on expenditures as well as limits on what an individual could contribute on to his/her own campaign.
Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire (1942)
Freedom of Speech; "Fighting words" that are likely to provoke a hostile response are not protected under the First Amendment.
Civil Rights Cases (1883)
Fourteenth Amendment; Held unconstitutional the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of race in places of public accommodations such as hotels, public transportations, and restaurants; Fourteenth Amendment offered protection against state action based on race, not private action. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 addresses discrimination in public accommodations (see Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States).
Clinton v. City of New York (1998)
Article II; Declared the Line-Item Veto Act unconstitutional because it granted the president authority not provided for in the constitution. Such an extension of presidential power requires a constitutional amendment.
Craig v. Boren (1976)
Fourteenth Amendment; To be valid, classifications based on gender must serve an important government objective and must be related to those objectives. This is known as "heightened scrutiny."
Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Dept. of Health (1990)
Right of Privacy; Although the Supreme Court ruled that parents of a comatose patient could not remove life support, the decision recognized that competent individuals could refuse medical treatment or the right to die.
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
Slavery and Property Rights; African Americans were not citizens of the US, and Scott had no right to sue; the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional; slaves were property and protected as such under the Constitution.
Employment Division v. Smith (1991)
Free Exercise Clause; The prohibition against the use of illegal drugs in religious ceremonies is not a violation of the free exercise clause of the First Amendment. Religious observance is not a reason for a person not complying with a valid law.
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
Establishment Clause; Requiring the recitation of a non-sectarian, government-sponsored prayer in the public school violates the principle of the separation of church and state; ban on prayer in the public school system.
Fletcher v. Peck (1810)
Article III; Establishes that the Supreme Court can declare a state law unconstitutional.
Forman v. Georgia (1972)
Eight Amendment; The arbitrary application of the death penalty constituted cruel and unusual punishment; the decision leads to a moratorium on the death penalty until state legislatures rewrite their capital punishment statues. See Gregg v. Georgia (1976).
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Commerce Clause and Supremacy Clause; The decision expanded the Commerce Clause to include almost any interstate business activity.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Sixth Amendment; The right to counsel is fundamental to a fair trial; the state must provide an attorney to poor defendants charged with a felony; the 6th Amendment applies to the states through the 14th Amendment.
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
Freedom of Speech; The First Amendment freedom of speech protection is incorporated/applied to the states through the 14th Amendment; incorporation doctrine.
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
Eighth Amendment; Upheld the death sentence of a person convicted of a double murder, pointing out that capital punishment per se is not unconstitutional.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Right of Privacy; Struck down a state law that made it a crime to provide contraceptive information to married couples on the basis of a constitutionally protected right of privacy.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Establishment Clause; When a law or state action involves religion, it must have a secular purpose; it cannot advance or inhibit religion, or excessively entangle the government with religion; Lemon test.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
Necessary and Proper Clause and Supremacy Clause; Upheld the constitutionality of the First Bank of the US under the "necessary and proper clause," and denied the states the right to tax the Bank, noting that the "power to tax is the power to destroy."
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Fourth Amendment; Evidence that is seized illegally cannot be used as evidence in court; the exclusionary rule is applied to the states.
Marbury v. Madison (1801)
Article III; The decision established the principle of judicial review; the Supreme Court has the power to declare a law passed by Congress unconstitutional.
Miller v. California (1973)
Freedom of Speech and Press; Outlines a test to define obscene materials that are not protected under the First Amendment. Community standards were included as were LAPS--a work is obscene if it has no "literary, artistic, political, or scientific" value.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
First Amendment; Prior to questioning by the police, a person must be informed of the following: his or her constitutional rights to remain silent, that anything said can be used against him or her, that he/she/they has a right to have an attorney present during questioning, and to have an attorney appointed if he/she/they cannot afford one; Miranda Warning.
Near v. Minnesota (1931)
Freedom of Press; States cannot ban offensive publications; First Amendment freedom of press protections apply to the states.
New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)
Freedom of Press; Public figures are bound by a higher standard in libel cases than ordinary citizens; they not only have to show that what was printed was false, but also that the media knew it was false and published it anyway showing complete disregard for the truth.
New York Times v. United States (1971)
Freedom of Press; The Supreme Court refused to prevent the publication of "The Pentagon Papers," a classified documentary history of US involvement in Vietnam, on national security grounds; prior restraint.
Nix v. Williams (1984)
Fourth Amendment; Questionable evidence can be used at trial if it can be shown that it would've been "inevitably discovered" by legal means; "inevitable discovery" exception to the exclusionary rule.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
Right of Privacy; States can regulate abortion as long as an "undue burden" is not placed on women. A 24-hour waiting period, counseling on alternatives to abortion, and parental consent for minors were constitutional restrictions on the right to an abortion.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Fourteenth Amendment; Segregation by race was constitutional provided the facilities are equal; Separate but Equal doctrine.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
Affirmative Action; Setting up a rigid quota system for admission to medical school is prohibited, but race can be taken into account in the admissions process because the goal of a diverse student body is valid; reverse racism.
Reno v. ACLU (1997)
Freedom of Speech; Ruled unconstitutional the attempt to control the content of the Internet through the Communications Decency Act. The provisions of the statute regarding "indecent transmission" and "patently offensive displays" violate the First Amendment.
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Right to Privacy; Women have an absolute right to an abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy based on a constitutionally protected right of privacy; the state can impose restrictions in the second and third trimesters.
Roth v. United States (1957)
Freedom of Speech and Press; Obscenity is not protected under the First Amendment; the decision recognized the validity of community standards in a test to determine if materials were obscene.
Schenck v. United States (1919)
Freedom of Speech; Freedom of speech is not absolute; the decision established the clear and present danger test as a constitutional restriction of free speech; you cannot yet "fire" into a crowded theater.
Shaw v. Reno (1993)
Fourteenth Amendment; The Supreme Court determined that race cannot be the predominant factor in drawing congressional district lines just to ensure the election of an African American representative; the oddly shaped district in North Carolina was a racial gerrymander.
South Dakota v. Dole (1987)
Federalism; Upheld a stature that required states to raise their minimum drinking age to 21 years of age or risk losing a portion of their federal highway funds.
Swann v. Charolotte-Mecklenburg County Board of Education (1971)
Fourteenth Amendment; Remedies for past racial discrimination in public education include racial quotas for both students and teachers, redrawing school district laws, and busing.
Sweatt v. Painter (1950)
Fourteenth Amendment; Found that the separate but equal doctrine could not be applied to professional schools, in this case, separate law schools for African Americans and white people in Texas.
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Freedom of Speech; The burning of the American flag is symbolic speech and is protected under the First Amendment.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
Freedom of Speech; The wearing of arm bands by students to protest the war in Vietnam is protected speech and cannot be prohibited by school officials; students do not give up their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse door.
United States v. Leon (1984)
Fourth Amendment; Evidence obtained through a faulty search warrant can be admitted if the authorities acted in "good faith" in getting the warrant; "good faith" exception to the exclusionary cause.
United States v. Lopez (1995)
Federalism and Commerce Clause; Congress doesn't have the power to prohibit guns in an area around a school under the Commerce Clause; gun regulation in this sense is a function of the states or local governments.
U.S. Term Limits v. Thornton (1995)
Federalism; The states cannot impose term limits on members of Congress.
Vacco v. Quill (1997)
Right of Privacy and Fourteenth Amendment; Upheld a state law that banned physician-assisted suicide (euthanasia).
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