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Warren Court Important Cases

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
Racial Segregation
*, (1954),[1] was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court that 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. Handed down on May 17, 1954, the Warren Court's unanimous (9-0) decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As a result, de jure racial segregation was ruled a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution. This ruling paved the way for integration and the civil rights movement.[2]
Bolling v. Sharpe
Racial Segregation
, (1954), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case which deals with civil rights, specifically, segregation in the District of Columbia's public schools. Originally argued on December 10-11, 1952, a year before Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was reargued on December 8 and 9, 1953, and was unanimously decided on May 17, 1954, the same day as Brown. The decision was supplemented in 1955 with the second Brown opinion, which ordered desegregation "with all deliberate speed." did not address school desegregation in the context of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, which applies only to the states, but held that school segregation was unconstitutional under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In *, the Court observed that the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution lacked an Equal Protection Clause, as in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Court held, however, that the concepts of Equal Protection and Due Process are not mutually exclusive.
Cooper v. Aaron
Racial Segregation
*, (1958), was a landmark decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, which held that the states were bound by the Court's decisions, and could not choose to ignore them.
Gomillion v. Lightfoot
Racial Segregation
*, (1960), was a United States Supreme Court decision that found an electoral district created to disenfranchise blacks violated the Fifteenth Amendment.
Griffin v. County School Board of Prince Edward County
Racial Segregation
, (1964), is a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States in which it ruled that the to close all public schools and provide vouchers to attend private schools was a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
In light of the court's holding in Brown v. Board of Education, Virginia initiated a coordinated policy known as massive resistance to maintain segregationist policies. Numerous public schools had been closed through the tactics of massive resistance, but Prince Edward County took the unusual and extreme measure of closing all of its public schools after being ordered to integrate the public schools under its jurisdiction in June 1959.
Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
Racial Segregation
, (1968) was an important United States Supreme Court case dealing with the freedom of choice plans created to comply with the mandate in Brown II. The Court held that 's freedom of choice plan did not constitute adequate compliance with the school board's responsibility to determine a system of admission to public schools on a non-racial basis. The Supreme Court mandated that the school board must formulate new plans and steps towards realistically converting to a desegregated system.
Lucy v. Adams
Racial Segregation
*, 350 U.S. 1 (1955), was a U.S. Supreme Court case that successfully established the right of all citizens to be accepted as students at the University of Alabama.
The case involved black citizens Autherine Lucy and Polly Anne Myers, who were refused admission to the University of Alabama solely on account of their race or color.
The Supreme Court affirmed the lower court decision, saying that it enjoins and restrains the respondent and others designated from denying these petitioners, solely on account of their race or color, the right to enroll in the University of Alabama and pursue courses of study there.
Loving v. Virginia
Racial Segregation
*, 388 U.S. 1 (1967),[1] was a landmark civil rights case in which the United States Supreme Court, by a 9-0 vote, declared Virginia's anti-miscegenation statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, thereby overturning Pace v. Alabama (1883) and ending all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the United States.
Baker v. Carr
Voting, redistricting, and malapportionment:
*, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that retreated from the Court's political question doctrine, deciding that reapportionment (attempts to change the way voting districts are delineated) issues present justiciable questions, thus enabling federal courts to intervene in and to decide reapportionment cases. The defendants unsuccessfully argued that reapportionment of legislative districts is a "political question," and hence not a question that may be resolved by federal courts.
Reynolds v. Sims
Voting, redistricting, and malapportionment:
*, 377 U.S. 533 (1964) was a United States Supreme Court case that ruled that state legislature districts had to be roughly equal in population.
Voters from Jefferson County, Alabama, had challenged the apportionment of the Alabama Legislature. The Alabama Constitution provided that there be at least one representative per county and as many senatorial districts as there were senators. Ratio variances as great as 41 to 1 from one senatorial district to another existed in the Alabama Senate (i.e., the number of eligible voters voting for one senator was in one case 41 times the number of voters in another).
Having already overturned its ruling that redistricting was a purely political question in Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186 (1962), the Court went further in order to correct what seemed to it to be egregious examples of malapportionment which were serious enough to undermine the premises underlying republican government. Before *, urban counties were often drastically underrepresented.
Wesberry v. Sanders
Voting, redistricting, and malapportionment:
*, 376 U.S. 1 (1964) was a case involving congressional districts in the state of Georgia, brought before the Supreme Court of the United States. The Court issued a ruling on February 17, 1964 that districts have to be approximately equal in population.
House districts of rural over-representation in the chamber came to an end in the mid- to late 1960s. These abrupt changes were the direct result of a historic decision by the Supreme Court in 1964. In *, the Court held that the population differences among Georgia's congressional districts were so great as to violate the Constitution.
In reaching its landmark decision, the Supreme Court noted that Article I, Section 2 of the United States Constitution declares that representatives shall be chosen "by the People of the several States" and shall be "apportioned among the several States...according to their respective Numbers...." These words, the Court held, mean that "as nearly as practicable one man's vote in a congressional election is to be worth as much as another's."
Brady v. Maryland
Criminal procedure
*, 373 U. S. 83 (1963), [1] was a United States Supreme Court case in which the prosecution had withheld from the criminal defendant certain evidence. The defendant challenged his conviction, arguing it had been contrary to the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Maryland prosecuted and a companion, Boblit, for murder. admitted being involved in the murder, but claimed Boblit had done the actual killing. The prosecution had withheld a written statement by Boblit confessing that he had committed the act of killing by himself. The Maryland Court of Appeals had affirmed the conviction and remanded the case for a retrial only of the question of punishment.
The court held that withholding exculpatory evidence violates due process "where the evidence is material either to guilt or to punishment"; and the court determined that under Maryland state law the withheld evidence could not have exculpated the defendant but was material to the level of punishment he would be given. Hence the Maryland Court of Appeals' ruling was affirmed.
Mapp v. Ohio
Criminal procedure
*, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), 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 criminal prosecutions in state courts, as well as federal courts.
Miranda v. Arizona
Criminal procedure
* 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court. 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. This had a significant impact on law enforcement in the United States, by making what became known as the Miranda rights part of routine police procedure to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. The Supreme Court decided Miranda with three other consolidated cases: Westover v. United States, Vignera v. New York, and California v. Stewart.
Gideon v. Wainwright
Criminal procedure
*, 372 U.S. 335 (1963), is a landmark case in United States Supreme Court history. In the case, the Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state courts are required under the Sixth Amendment of the Constitution to provide counsel in criminal cases for defendants who are unable to afford their own attorneys.
Escobedo v. Illinois
Criminal procedure
*, 378 U.S. 478 (1964),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case holding that criminal suspects have a right to counsel during police interrogations under the Sixth Amendment. The case was decided a year after the court held in Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) that indigent criminal defendants had a right to be provided counsel at trial.
Katz v. United States
Criminal procedure
*, 389 U.S. 347 (1967), is a United States Supreme Court case discussing the nature of the "right to privacy" and the legal definition of a "search". The Court's ruling adjusted previous interpretations of the unreasonable search and seizure clause of the Fourth Amendment to count immaterial intrusion with technology as a search, overruling Olmstead v. United States and Goldman v. United States. Katz also extended Fourth Amendment protection to all areas where a person has a "reasonable expectation of privacy".
Terry v. Ohio
Criminal procedure
*, 392 U.S. 1 (1968), was a decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that the Fourth Amendment prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is not violated when a police officer stops a suspect on the street and frisks him without probable cause to arrest, if the police officer has a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and has a reasonable belief that the person "may be armed and presently dangerous." (392 U.S. 1, at 30.)
New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
Free Speech
*, 376 U.S. 254 (1964),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case which established the actual malice standard which has to be met before press reports about public officials or public figures can be considered to be defamation and libel; and hence allowed free reporting of the civil rights campaigns in the southern United States. It is one of the key decisions supporting the freedom of the press. The actual malice standard requires that the plaintiff in a defamation or libel case prove that the publisher of the statement in question knew that the statement was false or acted in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity. Because of the extremely high burden of proof on the plaintiff, and the difficulty in proving essentially what is inside a person's head, such cases—when they involve public figures—rarely prevail.
Brandenburg v. Ohio
Free Speech
*, 395 U.S. 444 (1969), was a United States Supreme Court case based on the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. It held that government cannot punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite imminent lawless action. In particular, it overruled Ohio's criminal syndicalism statute, because that statute broadly prohibited the mere advocacy of violence. In the process, four prior Supreme Court decisions were invalidated
Yates v. United States
Free Speech
*, 354 U.S. 298 (1957), was a case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States involving free speech and congressional power. It ruled that the First Amendment protected radical and reactionary speech, unless it posed a "clear and present danger."
Roth v. United States
Free Speech
*, 354 U.S. 476 (1957), along with its companion case, Alberts v. California, was a landmark case before the United States Supreme Court which redefined the Constitutional test for determining what constitutes obscene material unprotected by the First Amendment.
Jacobellis v. Ohio
Free Speech
*, 378 U.S. 184 (1964), was a United States Supreme Court decision handed down in 1964 involving whether the state of Ohio could, consistent with the First Amendment, ban the showing of a French film called The Lovers (Les Amants) which the state had deemed obscene.
Nico Jacobellis, manager of the Heights Art Theatre in the Coventry Village neighborhood of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was convicted and fined $2500 by a judge of the Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas for exhibiting the film, and his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Ohio.
Memoirs v. Massachusetts
Freedom of Speech
*, 383 U.S. 413 (1966), was the United States Supreme Court decision that attempted to clarify a holding regarding obscenity made a decade earlier in Roth v. United States (1957).
Since the Roth ruling, to be declared obscene a work of literature had to be proven by censors to: 1) appeal to prurient interest, 2) be patently offensive, and 3) have no redeeming social value. The book in question in this case was Fanny Hill (or Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, 1749) by John Cleland and the Court held in Memoirs v. Massachusetts that, while it may fit the first two criteria (it appealed to prurient interst and was patently offensive), it could not be proven that Fanny Hill had no redeeming social value. The judgment favoring the plaintiff continued that it could still be held obscene under certain circumstances — for instance, if it were marketed solely for its prurient appeal.
Memoirs v. Massachusetts led to more years of debate about what was and was not obscene and the conferring of more power in these matters to proposers of local community standards.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District
Freedom of Speech
, 393 U.S. 503 (1969) was a decision by the United States Supreme Court that defined the constitutional rights of students in U.S. public schools. The test is still used by courts today to determine whether a school's disciplinary actions violate students' First Amendment rights.
Engel v. Vitale
Establishment Clause
*, 370 U.S. 421 (1962), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case that determined that it is unconstitutional for state officials to compose an official school prayer and require its recitation in public schools.
Abington Township School District v. Schempp
Establishment Clause
(consolidated with Murray v. Curlett), 374 U.S. 203 (1963),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case argued on February 27-28, 1963 and decided on June 17, 1963. In the case, the Court decided 8-1 in favor of the respondent, , and declared school-sponsored Bible reading in public schools in the United States to be unconstitutional.
Sherbert v. Verner
Free Exercise Clause
*, 374 U.S. 398 (1963),[1] was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment required that government demonstrate a compelling government interest before denying unemployment compensation to someone who was fired because her job conflicted with her religion.
The case established the Sherbert Test, requiring demonstration of such a compelling interest in Free Exercise cases. This test was eventually all-but-eliminated in Employment Division v. Smith 494 U.S. 872 (1990). However, it was resurrected by Congress in the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993, but the Court in City of Boerne v. Flores, 521 U.S. 507 (1997) and Gonzales v. O Centro Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006), limited its application to federal laws only.
Griswold v. Connecticut
Right to Privacy
*, 381 U.S. 479 (1965),[1] was 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".
Although the Bill of Rights does not explicitly mention "privacy," Justice William O. Douglas wrote for the majority that the right was to be found in the "penumbras" and "emanations" of other constitutional protections. Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote a concurring opinion in which he used the Ninth Amendment to defend the Supreme Court's ruling. Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote a concurring opinion in which he argued that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice Byron White also wrote a concurrence based on the due process clause.
Trop v. Dulles
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
*, 356 U.S. 86 (1958), was a federal case in the United States in which the Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, that it was unconstitutional for the government to revoke the citizenship of a U.S. citizen as a punishment.
The ruling's reference to "evolving standards of decency" is frequently cited precedent in the court's interpretation of the Eighth Amendment's prohibition on "cruel and unusual punishment."
Robinson v. California
Cruel and Unusual Punishment
*, 370 U.S. 660 (1962)[1], was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States held that the use of civil imprisonment as punishment solely for the misdemeanor crime of addiction to a controlled substance was a violation of the Eighth Amendment's protection against cruel and unusual punishment.
Curtis Publishing Co. v. Butts
*, 388 U.S. 130 (1967)[1], was a case in which the Supreme Court of the United States established the standard of First Amendment protection against defamation claims brought by private individuals.
The decision held that, while news organizations were protected from liability when printing allegations about public officials under the Supreme Court's New York Times Co. v. Sullivan decision (1964), they may still be liable to public figures if the information they disseminate is recklessly gathered and unchecked.[2]
The damages awarded in the suit accelerated the decline of the Saturday Evening Post and Curtis Publishing Company.[citation needed
Associated Press v. Walker
* concerns dispatch reports of rioting that occurred on the campus of the University of Mississippi on September 30, 1962. The dispatches, authored by a correspondent on the scene, reported that Edwin A. Walker, a private citizen and political activist, had personally led a violent crowd attempting to prevent federal marshals from enforcing the court- ordered enrollment of an African-American. Walker denied the report, and filed a libel suit in the state courts of Texas. A jury found in Walker's favor, but the judge in the case refused to award punitive damages, finding that there was no malicious intent. The judge also specifically noted that New York Times was inapplicable. On appeal, the Texas Court of Civil Appeals agreed. The Supreme Court of Texas declined to hear the case.
McGowan v. Maryland
*, 366 U.S. 420 (1961),[1] was a United States Supreme Court case in which the court held that laws with religious origins are not unconstitutional if they have secular purpose.
Wolf v. Colorado
*, 338 U.S. 25 (1949) was a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held 6-3 that the Fourth Amendment was applicable to the States through the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, however, the exclusionary rule was not.[1] The Court specified no redressive measures for those whose rights were violated. The Court would address that in the landmark case Mapp v. Ohio (1961).