Key Supreme Court Cases

  • Marburry v. Madison

    Marburry v. Madison
    This case 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.
  • Fletcher v. Peck

    Fletcher v. Peck
    \The entire state legislature of Georgia was bribed, so Georgia transferred a large amount of land to frauds(called the Yazoo Land). The people of Georgia were outrages, so they elected an entire new legislature.They invalidated that transfer before the new legislature came inHowever, the fraudsters sold some of this land to Peck(who did not know what he was doing was bad) with a contract. Georgia tries to get the land back but the Surpeme Court says they can't because of the contract.
  • Dartmouth College v. Woodward

    Dartmouth College v. Woodward
    The state of New Hampshire wanted to get rid of the trustee’s at Dartmouth because they were getting to radical(education was humanistic). New Hampshire wanted to make Dartmouth a state college, so the Dartmouth trustee’s sued. The Supreme Court said that the Dartmouth College and trustee’s were made by a contract and you cant break, ignore, or violate that contract.
  • McCulloch v. Maryland

    McCulloch v. Maryland
    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

    Gibbons v. Ogden
    A New York state law gave two individuals the exclusive right to operate steamboats on waters within state jurisdiction. In this case a steamboat owner who did business between New York and New Jersey challenged the monopoly, which forced him to obtain a special operating permit from the state to navigate on New York waters. The Court ruled that the New York Law was invalid due to the Supremecy Clause (the New York Law went against the Constitution- the Supreme Law of the Land.
  • Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

    Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
    The Cherokee challenged Georgia when the state forced the Cherokee out of the state, and deprived them of rights within their boundries. The Surpreme Court said that the Cherokee nation is a foreign nation, and therefore could not sue the state of Georgia.
  • Worcester v. Georgia

    Worcester v. Georgia
    Worcester and other non-native Americans were found residing in Cherokee land without a license and without having taken the oath to support the constitution of Georia. These men were then convicted. Worcester argued that the state could not maintain the prosecution because the statute violated the Constitution and former treaties. The Supreme Court rules that prior treaties between U.S. and Cherokee nation clearly establish tribal sovereignty over land sought by Georgia.
  • Prigg v. Pennsylvania

    Prigg v. Pennsylvania
    This case ruled that returning slaves was an aboligation of the national government, and the local government did not have to.
  • Lemmon v. The People

    Lemmon v. The People
    A women brought her 8 slaves from Virginia in New York City, and they were going to Texas. New York freed the slaves because slavery was illegal in New York. This was brought to the Supreme Court, but the Supreme Court never decided this case because New York paid slaveholder a lot of money and she took it.
  • Dred Scott v. Sandford

    Dred Scott v. Sandford
    The Supreme Court made a huge decision in 1857 in the case, Dread Scott v. Sanford, when Dread Scott, a slave, applied for freedom. After many years, the Supreme Court heard Scott’s case, and the decision shocked many. The Supreme Court ruled that because Scott was an African American, he could not sue, and therefore he could not gain his freedom. This case also declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional and provided that Congress had no right to prohibit slavery in territories.
  • Abelman v. Booth

    Abelman v. Booth
    The Supreme Court held that state courts cannot issue rulings that contradict the decisions of federal courts, overturning a decision by the Supreme Court of Wisconsin. The Supreme Court held that under the Constitution, the federal courts have the final power to decide cases under the Constitution, and that the states do not have the power to overturn federal court decisions. Therefore, Wisconsin did not have the authority to nullify federal judgments or statutes.
  • Texas v. White

    Texas v. White
    The Court ruled that although the Union was indissoluble and secession was legally impossible, the process of Reconstruction was still constitutional.
  • States regulating interstate commerce and the Supreme Court

    States regulating interstate commerce and the Supreme Court
    During the 1870s, farmers and small buisness owners were caught in the middle of railroad conflicts. They were "stung" by high rates and "secret kickbacks". Farmers and small buisness owners then went to state governments for help. State legislatures responded in the midwest by outlawing rate discrimination. At first, this was upheld by the Supreme Court, but in the 1880s the Supreme Court declared that states could not regulate interstate commerce.
  • Slaughterhouse Cases

    The Supeme Court began to chip away at the Foureenth Amendment. The cases involved a buisness monopoly rather than freedmen's rights, but they provided an oppurtunity to interpret the amendment narrowly. The SUpreme Court created a doctrine of "dual citizenship".
  • Munn v. Illonois

    Munn v. Illonois
    The Grange was an institution that offered information and emotional support for farmers. Granger laws designed to give legislative assistance to the farmers.The railroads practices crushed farmers, and the Grange lobbied state legislatures to pass laws adjusting the maximum rates for freight shipments. In Munn v. Illinois, the railroads appealed to the Supreme Court declaring these “Granger Laws” unconstitutional. The Court rejected the railroads appeal, and declared that the government will regulate business interests used for public good. In addition, the Supreme Court supported an Illinois law setting a maximum rate for grain storage.
  • Civil Rights Cases

    Civil Rights Cases
    The Civil Rights Act of 1875 outlawed racial discrimination on juries, and in public places (hotels, theaters, railroads, and streetcars). In the Civil Rights Cases, the Supreme Court declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The Court ruled that the Fourteenth Amendment only protected citizens from "governmental infringement of their civil rights", and not from acts of private citizens.
  • Wabash v. Illinois

    Wabash v. Illinois
    In Wabash v. Illinois, the Supreme Court reversed its position previously stated in Munn v. Illinois. It prohibited states from regulating interstate railroad rates. This ruling hurt farmers, but helped big buisness. After this decision, Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act, giving the Federal Government the power to oversee railroad activities. It also created a new agency, The Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate railroads to ensure fair rates and eliminate rate discrimination.
  • In re Debs

    In re Debs
    Eugene Debs led the American Railway Union on strike against the Pullman Car Company. Debs was eventually arrested, but in the 1895 case, In re Debs, the Supreme Court upheld Debs's prison sentence. In addition, the use of injuctions against labor unions was legalized. The Supreme Court gave buisness a huge "weapon", which was to restrain labor organizers.
  • Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust

    Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust
    Congress has authorized an income tax in an 1894 tariff act, but in Pollock v. Farmers' Loan and Trust the Supreme Court had not only ruled this measure unconstitutional, but also blasted it as "communistic". This ruling, denounced by populists and then by progressives, had spurred the campaign for a consitutional amendment.
  • U.S. v. E.C. Knight

    U.S. v. E.C. Knight
    The Supreme Court interpretted the Sherman Anti-Trust Act in a ways sympathetic to big buisness. In 1895, the federal government "brought suit against" the sugar trust. This case, U.S. v. E.C. Knight Company argued that the Knight company, which owned ninety percent of American sugar refining, was involed in trade of illegal restraint. The Supreme Court threw out this suit, declaring that manufacturing was not interstate commerce. This decision was against Unions, and supported big buisness.
  • Plessy v. Ferguson

    Plessy v. Ferguson
    The case Plessy v. Ferguson started when Homer Plessy boarded a white railroad car in Louisiana. The Court upheld a Louisiana law requiring segregated railroad cars. The Court ruled that segregation was constitutional if there were equal facilities for each race. This Court created the "separate but equal" doctrine. The South took this "blessing" from the Supreme Court and created segregated facilities, and the white facilities were better then the black facilities.This case was appealed in1954
  • Northern Securities Case

    Northern Securities Case
    After Theodore Roosevelt's 1902 State of the Union address, which gave high prioirty to breaking up buisness monopolies, Roosevelt's attorney general soon filed suit against J.P. Morgan's Northern Securities Company, a giant holding company that had recentley been formed to control railroading in the Northwest. Roosevelt's attorney general filed suit against Northern Securities for violating the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890. In 1904, the Supreme Court ordered Northern Securities dissolved.
  • Interstate Commerce Commission and the Supreme Court

    Interstate Commerce Commission and the Supreme Court
    In 1887, the Interstate Commerce Commission was created to overlook interstate railroad activity, and the law banned monopolies. The railroads challenged the ICC's rulings in the federal courts. Before 1905, there were sixteen cases brought to the Supreme Court and the justices found in favor the railroads in all but one case. This "essentially nullified the ICC's regulatory clout".
  • Lochner v. New York

    Lochner v. New York
    In Lochner v. New York, the Supreme Court ruled that a New York law setting maximum working hours for bakers was unconstitutional. The Court held that the Constitution prohibits states from interfering with most employment contracts because the right to buy and sell labor is a fundamental freedom protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Muller v. Oregon

    Muller v. Oregon
    The Supreme Court upholds an Oregon ten-hour law for female laundry workers. Defending the constitutionality of the Oregon law was Louis Brandeis, who offered how long hours harmed women workers. Rejecting a legal claim long made by buisness,the high court held that such worker-protection laws did not violate employers' rights under the due-process claues of the Fourteenth Amendment. Muller v. Oregon makred a breakthrough in making the legal system more responsive to new social realities.
  • Danbury Hatters Case

    Danbury Hatters Case
    During the Progressive Era, labor unions continued to expand. In the 1908 Danbury Hatters case, the Supreme Court forbade unions from organizing boycotts in support of strikes. Such boycotts were a "conspiracy in restraint of trade," said the high court, and thus a violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.
  • Standard Oil Company v. U.S.

    Standard Oil Company v. U.S.
    The Supreme Court order dissolution of Standard Oil. The solution was to divide Standard Oil into several geographically separate and eventually competing firms.
  • Schenck v. United States

    Schenck v. United States
    Charles Schenck was a the Secretary of the Socialist Party. He spoke and wrote to men about not going to war and ignoring their draft. The United States passed the Espionage Act in 1917 stating that this type of behavior is forbidden. It was ruled that Schenck 's actions were not protected by the First Amendment and he had no right to speak out against the draft, thus a violation of the Espionage Act. The main significance of this case was that it introduced the "clear and present dange" test.
  • Victor Berger and the Milwaukee Leader

    Victor Berger and the Milwaukee Leader
    In January 1919 Congressman-elect Victor Berger was convicted under the Espionage Acr for publishing antiwar articles in his socialist newspaper, the Milwaukee Leader. The Supreme Court reversed Berger's conviction in 1921.
  • Ozawa v. United States

    Ozawa v. United States
    In this case, the United States found Takao Ozawa (a Japanese man) not elible for naturalization. He had filed for citizenship under the Naturalization Law of 1906 which granted citizenship to those of African descent. Instead of asking for this to include other races as well, he asked to be considered "white". Due to being Japanese, the United States said he was not caucasion, therefore not white, thus he was not granted citizenship.
  • Adkins v. Children's Hospital

    Adkins v. Children's Hospital
    Adkins v. Children's Hospital was a Supreme Court opinion about minimum wage for women and children who worked declaring federal minimum wage legislation for women was unconstitutional. Congress passed a law on the minimum wage for women and children due to many other cases that had previously occured.
  • The Scopes Trial

    The Scopes Trial
    John Scopes was accused of violating the Butler Act which prohibited the teachings of evolution in schools in Tennessee. Defending Scopes was famous lawyer, Clarence Darrow, and prosecuting was William Jennings Bryan. Scopes had purposely taught this to students and asked them to complain in order to be able to defend himself and everyone else that disagreed with the Butler Act, in hopes to get it repealed. Scopes was found guilty and forced to pay a fine. This trial was quite controversial.
  • Buck v. Bell

    Buck v. Bell
    In "The Passing of te Great Race", Madison Grant called for racial segregation, immigration retriction, and the forced sterilization of the "unfit". The vogue of eugenics gave "scientific respectabiliy to anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as the racism, that pervaded white America in these years. Inspired by eugenics, many states legalized the sterilization of criminals, sex offenders, and persons adjusted mentally deficient. In the 1927 case Buck v. Bell, the Supreme Court upheld such laws.
  • Schechter v. US

    Schechter v. US
    In 1935, in Schechter v. United States, the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a central piece of this New Deal legislation, the NRA. In reviewing the conviction of a poultry company for breaking the Live Poultry Code, the Court held that the code violated the Constitution's separation of powers and held that the activities exceeded powers of Congress. This case invalidated the National Recovery Administration (NRA), which created fair practices, and set working conditions and hours.
  • "Scottsboro Boys"

    "Scottsboro Boys"
    Lynching and miscarriage of justiced continued during the depression, especially in the South. 24 blacks died by lynching in 1933. In 1931 an all white jury in Scottsboro, Alabama, sentenced eight black youths to death on highly suspect of rape. In 1935, after heavy publicity and an aggressive defense, the Supreme Court ordered a new trial for the "Scottsboro Boys" because they had been denied legal counsel and blacks had been excluded from the jury. 5 of the group were agian convicted.
  • United States v. Butler

    United States v. Butler
    United States v. Butler ruled that the processing tax on agricultural commodities that funded the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) subsidies was an illegal use of the government's tax powers. To replace the AAA, Congress passed a soil-conservation act that paid farmers to plant grasses and legeumes instead of soil-depleating crops such as wheat and cotton.
  • FDR and the Supreme Court- Court Packing

    FDR and the Supreme Court- Court Packing
    In 1937,the Supreme Court was nade up of nine elderly justices, four of whom were archconservatives who hated the New Deal.They had invalidated the NRA and the AAA. FDR feared that key measures of the Second New Deal, including the Social Security Act and the Wagner Act, would also be invalidated.FDR proposed a court-reform bill that would have allowed him to appoint an additional justice for each justice over age seventy, up to a total of six.This was rejected and secene as a power grab by FDR.
  • Korematsu v. United States

    Korematsu v. United States
    This case was about the Japanese being ordered into internment camps. Frank Korematsu defied Roosevelt's order to be interned and he was then arrested and convicted. He argued it was not right and unconstitutional. However, it was found that it was constitutional and he was convicted. From this case, it became evident that the U.S. Goverment had the power to move and control people at its wish based on race.
  • Morgan v. Virginia

    Morgan v. Virginia
    In 1946, a black woman, Irene Morgan, boarded a bus from Maryland to Virginia. She was ordered to sit in the back of the bus as the Virginia state law required, but she objected. She said that since it was an interstate bus, the Virginia law did not apply, and she was arrested. The Supreme Court ruled that segregation in interstate bus transportation is unconstitutional.The case still had little impact on society for quite some time. This also benefited Truman in the Election of 1948.
  • Shelley v. Kraemer

    Shelley v. Kraemer
    The Shelley family bought a house in Missouri in which parcel owners had signed a restrictive covenant, which stated that no property could be sold to black people. A neighbor, Louis Kraemer led to suit to undo the sale of the property to the Shelley's. The Supreme Court outlawed restrictive housing covenants that forbade the sale or rental of property to minorities. The Court declared that the Fourteenth Amendment prevents courts from enforcing race discrimination in real estate contracts.
  • Dennis v. United States

    Dennis v. United States
    he Petitioners, Dennis and others were convicted for willfully and knowingly conspiring to organize as the Communist Party of the United States willfully and knowingly advocating and teaching the duty to do the same. The Supreme Court affirmed the conviction and jailing of the communists, despite the absence of any acts of violence or espionage, declaring that Congress could curtail freedom of speech if national security required such restriction.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    Black children were denied admission to public schools attended by white children under laws requiring or permitting segregation according to the races. The Supreme 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.
  • Jencks v. United States

    Jencks v. United States
    Led by a new chief justice, Earl Warren, the Supreme Court incurred conservatives wrth for defending the rights of persons accused of subversive beliefs. In Jencks v. United States, the Court held that the accused (of being communist) had the right to inspect government fileds used by the prosecution.
  • Yates v. United States

    Yates v. United States
    The justices overturned the convictions of Communist party officials under the Smith Act, emphasizing the distinction between unlawful concrete acts and the teaching of revolutionary ideology.
  • Watkins v. U.S.

    Watkins v. U.S.
    This case restricts Congress's investigatory power to matters directly pertinent to pending legislation.
  • Baker v. Carr

    Baker v. Carr
    This case holds that the federal court possess jurisdiction over state apportionment systems to ensure that the votes of all citizens carry equal weight.
  • Engel v. Vitale

    Engel v. Vitale
    This case prohibits prayer in the public schools.
  • Abington v. Schempp

    Abington v. Schempp
    This case bans Bible reading in the public schools.
  • Gideon v. Wainwright

    Gideon v. Wainwright
    This case requires states to provide attorneys at public expense for indigent defendants in felony cases.
  • Jacobellis v. Ohio

    Jacobellis v. Ohio
    This case extends constitutional protection to all sexually explicit material that has any "literary or scientific or artistic value".
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

    New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
    This case expands the constitutional protection of the press aainst libel suits by public figures.
  • Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims

    Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims
    These cases hold that the only standard of apportionment for state legislatures and congressional districts is "one man, one vote".
  • Miranda v. Arizona

    Miranda v. Arizona
    This case requires police to advise a suspect of his or her constitutional right to remain silent and to have a counsel present during interrogation.
  • Loving v. Virginia

    Loving v. Virginia
    This case strikes down state antimiscegenation laws, which prohibit marriage between persons of different races.
  • Katzenbach v. Morgan

    Katzenbach v. Morgan
    This case uphols federal legislation outlawing state requirements that a prospective voter must demonstrate literacy in English.
  • Green v. County School Board of New Kent County

    Green v. County School Board of New Kent County
    This case extends the Brown v. Board of Education ruling to require the assignment of pupils on the basis of race, to end segregation.
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

    Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
    This supreme court case was about students taking buses to public schools simply to help promote integration. This was a controversial topic. The court felt this was a productive way of helping solve racial issues and promote equality. This was decided April 20, 1971. There had been previous cases both for and against racial integration at schools.
  • Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg

    The Supreme Court upheld buisness as a constitutional and necessary tactic in this case. Nixon condemmed the ruling and asked Congress to enact a moratorium on busing (this was a part of Nixon's southern strategy).
  • Roe v. Wade

    Roe v. Wade
    This Supreme Court case was based upon the issue of abortion. It was ruled that a woman had a right to privacy under the 14th amendment therefore it was her decision whether or not to have an abortion, however, the fetal life and women's health were also taken into consideration. It was ruled that a woman could have an abortion depending on what trimester of it she was in, causing each state's law to differ. This case was and still is very controversial and is still questioned.
  • US v. Nixon

    US v. Nixon
    This Supreme Cout case was to decide whether or not to impeach Nixon after the Watergate Scandal. Nixon was caught bribing and telling his coworkers to lie in order to save his name after they were caught trying to wire tap the phones at the watergate building. The vote was unanimous that his impeachment was necessary.