Supreme Court Cases
Terms in this set (31)
Fletcher v. Peck (1810)
. In 1800, John Peck acquired land that was part of the original legislative grant. He then sold the land to Robert Fletcher three years later, claiming that past sales of the land had been legitimate. Fletcher argued that since the original sale of the land had been declared invalid, Peck had no legal right to sell the land and thus committed a breach of contract. In a unanimous opinion, the Court held that since the estate had been legally "passed into the hands of a purchaser for a valuable consideration," the Georgia legislature could not take away the land or invalidate the contract.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
In 1816, Congress chartered The Second Bank of the United States. In 1818, the state of Maryland passed legislation to impose taxes on the bank. James W. McCulloch, the cashier of the Baltimore branch of the bank, refused to pay the tax. In a unanimous decision, the Court held that Congress had the power to incorporate the bank and that Maryland could not tax instruments of the national government employed in the execution of constitutional powers.
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824), was a landmark decision in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the power to regulate interstate commerce was granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The case was argued by some of America's most admired and capable attorneys at the time. Exiled Irish patriot Thomas Addis Emmet and Thomas J. Oakley argued for Ogden, while William Wirt and Daniel Webster argued for Gibbons.
National Labor Relations Board v. Jones and Laughlin Steel (1937)
National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation was a United States Supreme Court case that declared that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (commonly known as the Wagner Act) was constitutional. It effectively spelled the end to the Court's striking down of New Deal economic legislation, and greatly increased Congress's power under the Commerce Clause.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US (1964)
Heart of Atlanta Motel Inc. v. United States was a landmark United States Supreme Court case holding that the U.S. Congress could use the power granted to it by the Constitution's Commerce Clause to force private businesses to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
United States v. Lopez (1995)
Alfonzo Lopez, a 12th grade high school student, carried a concealed weapon into his San Antonio, Texas high school. He was charged under Texas law with firearm possession on school premises. United States v. Alfonso Lopez, Jr. was the first United States Supreme Court case since the New Deal to set limits to Congress's power under the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution
Printz v. United States (1997)
Printz v. United States was a United States Supreme Court ruling that established the unconstitutionality of certain interim provisions of the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act.
United States v. Morrison (2000)
United States v. Morrison is a United States Supreme Court decision which held that parts of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994 were unconstitutional because they exceeded congressional power under the Commerce Clause and under section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
Buckley v. Valeo was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States struck down several provisions in the 1974 Amendment to a law that limited campaign expenditures, independent expenditures by individuals and groups, and expenditures by a candidate from personal funds. It introduced the idea that money counts as speech, and eliminated any previous restraints on unlimited spending in US election campaigns. The Court upheld the provision which sets limits on individuals' campaign contributions.
Baker v. Carr (1962)
Baker v. Carr was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that retreated from the Court's political question doctrine, deciding that redistricting (attempts to change the way voting districts are delineated) issues present justiciable questions, thus enabling federal courts to intervene in and to decide redistricting cases. The defendants unsuccessfully argued that redistricting of legislative districts is a "political question", and hence not a question that may be resolved by federal courts.
Shaw v. Reno (1993)
Shaw v. Reno was a United States Supreme Court case argued on April 20, 1993. The ruling was significant in the area of redistricting and racial gerrymandering. The court ruled in a 5-4 decision that redistricting based on race must be held to a standard of strict scrutiny under the equal protection clause. On the other hand, bodies doing redistricting must be conscious of race to the extent that they must ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Clinton v. New York City (1998)
Clinton v. City of New York is a legal case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the line-item veto as granted in the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 violated the Presentment Clause of the United States Constitution because it impermissibly gave the President of the United States the power to unilaterally amend or repeal parts of statutes that had been duly passed by the United States Congress.
United States v. Nixon (1973)
A grand jury returned indictments against seven of President Richard Nixon's closest aides in the Watergate affair. The special prosecutor appointed by Nixon and the defendants sought audio tapes of conversations recorded by Nixon in the Oval Office. Nixon asserted that he was immune from the subpoena claiming "executive privilege," which is the right to withhold information from other government branches to preserve confidential communications within the executive branch or to secure the national interest.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
Marbury v. Madison was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court formed the basis for the exercise of judicial review in the United States under Article III of the Constitution. The landmark decision helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
Dred Scott v. Sandford was a landmark decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court held that African Americans, whether slave or free, could not be American citizens and therefore had no standing to sue in federal court and that the federal government had no power to regulate slavery in the federal territories acquired after the creation of the United States. Dred Scott, an African American slave who had been taken by his owners to free states and territories, attempted to sue for his freedom. In a 7-2 decision, the Court denied Scott's request.
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
Gitlow v. New York was a decision by the United States Supreme Court decided on June 8, 1925, which ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution had extended the reach of certain limitations on federal government authority set forth in the First Amendment—specifically the provisions protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press—to the governments of the individual states. It was one of a series of Supreme Court cases that defined the scope of the First Amendment's protection of free speech and established the standard to which a state or the federal government would be held when it criminalized speech or writing.
Everson v. Board of Education (1942)
Everson v. Board of Education was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court which applied the Establishment Clause in the country's Bill of Rights to State law. This was the first Supreme Court case incorporating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as binding upon the states through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The decision in Everson marked a turning point in the interpretation and application of disestablishment law in the modern era.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
Lemon v. Kurtzman was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Pennsylvania's 1968 Nonpublic Elementary and Secondary Education Act (represented through David Kurtzman), which allowed the state Superintendent of Public Instruction to reimburse nonpublic schools (most of which were Catholic) for the salaries of teachers who taught secular material in these nonpublic schools, secular textbooks and secular instructional materials, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. The decision also upheld a decision of the First Circuit, which had struck down the Rhode Island Salary Supplement Act providing state funds to supplement salaries at nonpublic elementary schools by 15%. As in Pennsylvania, most of these funds were spent on Catholic schools.
Schenck v. United States (1919)
Schenck v. United States is a United States Supreme Court decision concerning enforcement of the Espionage Act of 1917 during World War I. A unanimous Supreme Court, in a famous opinion by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., concluded that defendants who distributed leaflets to draft-age men, urging resistance to induction, could be convicted of an attempt to obstruct the draft, a criminal offense. The First Amendment did not alter the well established law in cases where the attempt was made through expressions that would be protected in other circumstances.
Near v. Minnesota (1931)
Near v. Minnesota was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision that recognized the freedom of the press by roundly rejecting prior restraints on publication, a principle that was applied to free speech generally in subsequent jurisprudence. The Court ruled that a Minnesota law that targeted publishers of "malicious" or "scandalous" newspapers violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment).
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District was a decision by the United States Supreme Court that defined the constitutional rights of students in U.S. public schools. The Tinker test is still used by courts today to determine whether a school's disciplinary actions violate students' First Amendment rights. (Black Armbands to protest Vietnam War)
NAACP v. Alabama (1958)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People v. Alabama, 357 U.S. 449 (1958), was an important civil rights case brought before the United States Supreme Court. Alabama sought to prevent the NAACP from conducting further business in the state. After the circuit court issued a restraining order, the state issued a subpoena for various records, including the NAACP's membership lists. The Supreme Court ruled that Alabama's demand for the lists had violated the right of due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
Mapp v. Ohio was a landmark case in criminal procedure, in which the United States Supreme Court decided that evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which protects against "unreasonable searches and seizures," may not be used in state law criminal prosecutions in state courts, as well, as had previously been the law, as in federal criminal law prosecutions in federal courts.
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
Gideon v. Wainwright is a landmark case in United States Supreme Court history. In it the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases to represent defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys. The case extended the identical requirement that had been explicitly imposed on federal courts under the Fifth Amendment and Sixth Amendment.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Miranda v. Arizona was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court which passed 5-4. The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them. (Miranda rights)
Plessy v. Ferguson
Plessy v. Ferguson is a landmark United States Supreme Court decision in the jurisprudence of the United States, upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in public facilities under the doctrine of "separate but equal".
Korematsu v. United States (1944)
Korematsu v. United States was a landmark United States Supreme Court case concerning the constitutionality of Executive Order 9066, which ordered Japanese Americans into internment camps during World War II regardless of citizenship. In a 6-3 decision, the Court sided with the government, ruling that the exclusion order was constitutional.
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)
Brown v. Board of Education was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court declared state laws establishing separate public schools for black and white students unconstitutional. The decision overturned the Plessy v. Ferguson decision of 1896, which allowed state-sponsored segregation, insofar as it applied to public education.
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)
Regents of the University of California v. Bakke was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States. It upheld affirmative action, allowing race to be one of several factors in college admission policy. However, the court ruled that specific quotas, such as the 16 out of 100 seats set aside for minority students by the University of California, Davis School of Medicine, were impermissible.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
Griswold v. Connecticut is a landmark case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution protected a right to privacy. The case involved a Connecticut law that prohibited the use of contraceptives. By a vote of 7-2, the Supreme Court invalidated the law on the grounds that it violated the "right to marital privacy".
Roe v. Wade (1973)
Roe v. Wade is a landmark decision by the United States Supreme Court on the issue of abortion. The Court ruled 7-2 that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women's health. Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the trimester of pregnancy.