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Civil Rights


Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Upheld separate-but-equal facilities for white and black people on railroad cars.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Said that separate public schools are inherently unequal, thus starting racial desegregation.

Green v. County School Board of New Kent County (1968)

Banned a freedom-of-choice plan for integrating schools, suggesting that blacks and whites must actually attend racially mixed schools.

Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971)

Approved busing and redrawing district lines as ways of integrating public schools.

Women's RIghts


Reed v. Reed (1971)

Gender discrimination violates the equal protection clause of the Constitution.

Craig v. Boren (1976)

Gender discrimination can only be justified if it serves "important governmental objectives" and be "substantially related to those objectives."

Rostker v. Goldberg (1981)

Congress can draft men without drafting women.

United States v. Virginia (1996)

State may not finance an all-male military school.

Privacy and Abortion


Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

Found a "right to privacy" in the Constitution that would ban any state law against selling contraceptives.

Roe v. Wade (1973)

State laws against abortion were unconstitutional.

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)

Allowed states to ban abortions from public hospitals and permitted doctors to test to see if fetuses were viable.

Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

Reaffirmed Roe v. Wade but upheld certain limits on its use.

Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)

States may not ban partial birth abortions if they fail to allow an exception to protect the health of the mother.

Affirmative Action


United Steelworkers v. Weber (1979)

Despite the ban on racial classifications in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, this case upheld the use of race in an employment agreement between the steelworkers union and steel plant.

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

In a confused set of rival opinions, the decisive vote was cast by Justice Powell, who said that a quotalike ban on Bakke's admission was unconstitutional but that "diversity" was a legitimate goal that could be pursued by taking race into account.

Richmond v. Croson (1989)

Affirmative Action plants must be judged by the strict scrutiny standard that requires an race-conscious plan to be narrowly tailored to serve a compelling interest.

Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)

Numerical benefits cannot be used to admit minorities into college, but race can be a "plus factor" in making those decisions.

Gay Rights


Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

State law may not ban sexual relations between same-sex partners.

Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000)

A private organization may ban gays from its membership.

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