Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Supreme Court created for itself the power of judicial review when it declared a section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional
McCulloh v. Maryland (1819)
Decision upheld the right of Congress to create the National Bank using the elastic clause and further ruled that a state did not have the consitutional right to tax a branch of the bank in its state
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
This case involving a state monopoly to a steamboat company solidified the federal government's power to have exclusive control over interstate commerce
Schecter Poultry Corp v. U.S. (1935)
Declared the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional because the federal government had exceeded its authority under the interstate commerce clause. This decision, along with the Butler ruling declaring the AAA unconstitutional, triggered FDR to propose his "Court Packing Plan."
National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel (1937)
Ruled that Congress could use the interstate commerce clause to regulate labor relations by upholding the Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act). Decision signaled a change in Court's attitute toward support of New Deal
West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937)
Upheld the Washington state minimum wage statute. Another decision showing change in Court's attitude.
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
Roger Taney decision that ruled that Congress did not have the authority to ban slavery anywhere in the territiories. Also stated that African-Americans, whether slave or free, were not citizens.
Civil Rights Cases (1883)
Ruled that the 14th Amendment does not compel private citizens to refrain from discrimination.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
Ruled that the segregation was allowed when the court upheld a Louisiana Jim Crow law regarding railroads. The principle of "seperate but equal" was established.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
Landmark case which overturned Plessy and ruled that segregation in public schools is inherently unequal and therefore a violation of the 14th Amendment
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964)
this decision overturned Civil Rights Cases by upholding that Congress could outlaw segregation in private facilities with the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Regents of the University of Cali v. Bakke (1978)
Landmark case involving the concept of affirmative action in which the Court took a middle ground by upholding the general concept of affirmative action but ruling that the specific type of quota system used was unconstitutional violation of the 14th Amendment
Schenck v. U.S. (1919)
Court ruled that Schenck's freedom of expression was not protected in this case because his position against the draft during WWI presented a "clear and present danger." This case is considered particularly damaging to the cause of free speech because the opinion was written by one of the most liberal justices of the time of Oliver Wendell Holmes
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
Landmark symbolic speech case in which the Court protected burning the American flag as form of symbolic speech
Griswold v. Conn. (1965)
Although the facts of this case dealt with a state law banning the sale of contraceptives its significance lies in the fact that the Court ruled that the right of privacy does exist even though it is not explicitly stated in the Constitution.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
extended the exclustionary rule (evidence obtained illegally cannot be used against a defendant at a criminal trial) to state as well as federal cases
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
if a person is not informed of their rights anything they say can not be used against them at trial
Engle v. Vitale (1962)
Court ruled that a New York State Board of Regents prayer could not be used in public school even though it was non denominational and voluntary; still violated establishment clause.
N.Y. Times v. U.S. (1971)
this case stemmed from the publication of the Pentagon Papers, a secret study of the Vietnam War, that was given to the times by an employee of the Pentagon. The Court refused to allow an injunction against publication taking a strong stand against prior restraint and arguing that the government had not proven that publication would harm national security.
Baker v. Carr (1962)
The Court ruled that federal courts do have jurisdiction over state legislative reapportionment. In 1964, the Court furthered this decision in Wesberry v. Sanders by establishing the principle of "one man, one vote." These two cases made it a requirement that House of Representative districts be drawn so that each representative represented the same number of people.
U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
This case was a result of the Watergate Scandal, specifically whether Nixon had to turn over to Congress tapes of conversations in the Oval office. Although accepting the principle of executive privilege, the Court ruled that it did not apply in this matter because investigation was part of a criminal Prosecution.
Tinker v. Des Moines (1969)
Landmark case involving a student protest of the Vietname by wearing an armband. The Court ruled that neither students nor teachers lose their rights at the schoolhouse gate.