Key Supreme Court Cases

  • Marbury vs Madison

    Marbury vs Madison
    This supreme court case had the ruling that William Marbury should not get the job as Justice of the Peace of Columbia, a job he was appointed to by John Adams. Marbury sued James Madison, Jefferson's secretary of state, for his commison, but the lawsuit was dismissed. The supreme court also ruled that the Supreme Court alone had the last word on the question of constiutionality, giving the Supreme Court their tremendous power on American life.
  • Fletcher vs Peck

    Fletcher vs Peck
    This supreme court case ruled that the legislative grant of land in Georgia to private legislatures was a contract, and the state of Georgia could not "impair" this contract or cancel the transcation. . This case protected property rights againist popular pressures.
  • Dartmouth College vs Woodward

    Dartmouth College vs Woodward
    This supreme court case ruled that the originial charter for Darmouth College granted by King George the Third of England must stand, and that the democratic New Hampshire state legislature could not change the charter.
  • McCulloch vs Maryland

    In this supreme court case, the state of Maryland attempted to destroy a branch of the Bank of the United States by imposing a tax on its notes. The supreme court ruled the bank constitutional by invoking the doctrine of implied powers and also denied the right of Maryland to tax the bank.
  • Cohens vs Virginia

    Cohens vs Virginia
    In this supreme court case, the Cohens were found guilty by the Virginia Courts of illegally selling lottery tickets, appealed to the Supreme Court. The supreme court sided with the state of Virginia, but also asserted the right of the Supreme Court to review the decisions of the state supreme courts in all questions involving powers of the federal government.
  • Gibbons vs Ogden

    Gibbons vs Ogden
    This supreme court case grew out of an attempt by the state of New York to grant to a private conern a monopoly of waterborne commerce between New York and New Jersey. The supreme court ruled that only Congress has control of interstate commerce, upholding the soveriegn powers of the federal government.
  • Commenwealth vs Hunt

    Commenwealth vs Hunt
    In this supreme court case, the supreme court ruled that labor unions were not illegal conspiracies, provided that their methods were "honorable" and peaceful". This case helped workers to organize into labor unions and meet management on even terms.
  • Dred Scott vs Sanford

    Dred Scott vs Sanford
    This supreme court case ruled that Dred Scott, a black slave who had lived with his master for five years in Illinois and Wisconsin Territory, was private property and could be taken into any territory and be legally held there in slavery. This case also ruled that Dred Scott was a black slave and was not a citizen, and hence could not sue in federal courts.
  • Ex parte Milligan

    This supreme court case ruled that military tribunals could not try civilians, even in wartime, in areas where the civil courts wre open.
  • Munn vs Illinois

    This supreme court case deal with corporate rates and agriculture. It allowed states to regulate certain businesses within their borders, including railroads, and is considered a milestone in the growth of frederal government regulation. This case was huge for the farmers and working class people in helping to control the monoplies and big businesses.
  • Springer vs United States

    This supreme court case upheld the federal income tax imposed under the Revenue Act of 1864. It was argued that the income tax was a direct tax not divided according to a plan among the states according to the population of each state under
  • Civil Rights Cases

    This was a group of five cases combined into one issue for the Supreme Court to review. The ruling was that Congress lacked the constitutional authority under the enforcement provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment to outlaw racial discrimination by private individuals and organizations, rather than state and local governments.
  • Pollock vs Farmerse Loan and Trust Company

    THis supreme court case ruled that a federal income tax on municipal bonds, established by the Wilson-Gorham Tariff Act of 1894, was an unconstitutional attempt to collect direct taxes. This was a dffierent ruling than in Springer vs United States, which upheld the federal income tax
  • United States vs E. C. Knight Company

    This supreme court case limited the governments power to control monoplies. This court case was heard concerning the Sherman Anti Trust Act, as was a major victory for monoplies and big businesses and was a major loss for the working class people.
  • Plessy vs Ferguson

    Landmark Supreme Court Case which upheld he constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregration. This court case said that "separate but equal" accomidations for whites and blacks are acceptable. However, in the South especially the whites had much better accomidations than the blacks.
  • Wabash vs Illinois

    This court case severly limited limied the rights of states to control interstate commerce. This ruling benefited the railroads tcoons and other big businesses, while it hurt organizations like the Farmers Alliance and the The Grange.
  • Insular Cases

    Insular Cases
    The Insular Cases are a group of Supreme Court Cases concerning the territories acquirred by the United States in the Spanish-American War. The Supreme Court ruled that full constitutional rights did not automatically extend to all areas under American control. Therefore, people living in US territories may have no constitutional rights.
  • Northern Securities Company vs United States

    Northern Securities Company vs United States
    This Supreme Court cases ruled upheld Theodore Roosevelt's antitrust suit and ordered the Northern Securities Company to be dissolved. This angered big businesses and enhanced Roosevelts image as a trust buster. This case was also an example of the Sherman Anti Trust Act being used to break up monopolies.
  • Lockner vs New York

    Lockner vs New York
    This supreme court case invalidated a law establishing a ten-hour workday for bankers. This was a loss for progressives who wanted to establish maximum workday hours for all workers in America, including bankers.
  • Muller vs Oregon

    Muller vs Oregon
    This supreme court case involved attorney Louis D. Brandeis persuading the Supreme Court to accept the constitutionality of laws protecting women workers by presenting evidence of the harmful effects of factory labor on women's weaker bodies. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Louis D. Brandeis and was hailed by an achievement by many progressives.
  • Standard Oil Company of New Jersey vs United States

    Standard Oil Company of New Jersey vs United States
    In this supreme court case, the supreme court found Standard Oil Company guilty of monopolizing the oil industry through abusive and anticompetitive actions. The Standard Oil company was broken up, and was another instance of the Sherman Anti Trust Act being used to break up monopolies.
  • Debs vs United States

    Debs vs United States
    This supreme court case upheld the Espionage Act of 1917 and sentenced Eugene Debs to ten years in prison and a loss of his citizenship. The supreme court ruled that as Debs had intentionally obstructed the recruitment of the draft he was guilty under the Espionage Act.
  • Schenck vs United States

    Schenck vs United States
    This supreme court case upheld the Espionage Act, similar to Debs vs United States, because speech that posed a "clear and present danger" is not protected and that people whose speech poses a "clear and present danger" to the United States can be arrested and sent to prison
  • Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti

    Trial of Sacco and Vanzetti
    Two men, Sacco and Vanzetti were charged with killing two men. Sacco and Vanzetti were anarchists, draft dodgers, and Italian immigrants. They were convicted of murder on limited evidence and executed. This was not a supreme court case but angered people on how these two men were found guilty perhaps due to bias againist the kind of people that they were.
  • Adkins vs Childrens Hospital

    This supreme court case reversed the decision in Muller vs Oregon which had declared women to be deserving of special protection in the workplace and also invalidated a minimum wage law for women. The reasosing was that as women were now legal equals of men they could no longer be protected by special legislation.
  • Scopes Trial

    Scopes Trial
    John Scopes was charged with teaching evolution in Tennessee, which was made illegal by the Butler Act of 1925. William Jennings Bryan headed the prosecution while Clarence Darrow headed the defense. Darrow was able to embarrass Bryan, the self proclaimed expert on the Bible, but the jury ruled againist John Scopes. This was not a Supreme Court Case but was a case about religion versus science, and in a sense the South versus the North.
  • Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States

    Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States
    This supreme court case said that Congress could not delegate legislative powers to the executive and that control of interstate commerce could not apply to intrastate commerce. This decision was designed to reduce FDR's power in the US government.
  • Korematsu vs US

    Korematsu vs US
    This supreme court case upheld the constitutionality of the Japanese relocation camps that resulted in these Japanese Americans in losing millions of dollars in property and earnings.
  • Sweatt vs Painter

    Sweatt vs Painter
    Supreme Court case in which Thurgood Marshall wurng from the Supreme Court a ruling that separate professional schools for blakcs failed to meet the test of equality.
  • Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas

    Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
    Supreme Court case in which it was ruled that segregation in the public schools was "inherently unequal" and thus unconstitutional. This court decision reversed the court's earlier decision in the Plessy vs Ferguson supreme court case of 1896.
  • Engel vs Vitale

    Engel vs Vitale
    In this supreme court case, the supreme court voted againist required prayers and Bible readings in public schools. This ruling was based on the first amendment, the seperation of church and state. This decision was also reflected in the 1963 supreme court case of School District of Abington Township vs Schempp.
  • Gideon vs Wainwright

    Gideon vs Wainwright
    This supreme court case said that all defendents in serious criminal cases were entitled to legal counsel, even if they were too poor to afford it.
  • New York Times vs Sullivan

    New York Times vs Sullivan
    In this supreme court case the supreme court ruled that public figures sued could sue for libel only if they could prove that "malice" had motivated their defamers.
  • Reynolds vs Sims

    Reynolds vs Sims
    This supreme court case ruled that the state legislatures, both upper and lower houses, would have to be reapportioned according to the human population of each state. Cows could not count as population in states, according to the principle of the one-man-one-vote.
  • Griswold vs Connecticut

    This supreme court case struck down a Connecticut state law that prohibited the use of contraceptives, declaring a "right of privacy" that the state of Connecticut was in conflict with.
  • Miranda vs Arizona

    Miranda vs Arizona
    This supreme court case ensured the right of the accused to remain silent and enjoy the other protections when accused of a crime. This decision was also relfected in the supreme court case Escobedo vs Illinois in 1964.
  • Roe vs Wade

    Roe vs Wade
    This supreme court case gave a ruling that prohibited states from making laws that interfered with a woman's right to an abortion during the early months of her pregnancy.