Personal Liberty Supreme Court Cases Timeline

Timeline created by Michael McBride
  • Kent V. Dulles

    Kent V. Dulles
    In a 5-to-4 decision, the Court held that the right to travel is an inherent element of "liberty" that cannot be denied to American citizens. Although the Executive may regulate the travel practices of citizens, by requiring them to obtain valid passports, it may not condition the fulfillment of such requirements with the imposition of rules that abridge basic constitutional notions of liberty, assembly, association, and personal autonomy.
  • Griswold V. Connecticut

    Griswold V. Connecticut
    In a 7-2 decision authored by Justice Douglas, the Court ruled that the Constitution did in fact protect the right of marital privacy against state restrictions on contraception. While the Court explained that the Constitution does not explicitly protect a general right to privacy, the various guarantees within the Bill of Rights create penumbras, or zones, that establish a right to privacy. The Connecticut statute conflicted with the exercise of this right and was therefore held null and void.
  • Loving V. Virginia

    Loving V. Virginia
    In a unanimous decision, the Court held that distinctions drawn according to race were generally "odious to a free people" and were subject to "the most rigid scrutiny" under the Equal Protection Clause. The Court rejected the state's argument that the statute was legitimate because it applied equally to both blacks and whites and found that racial classifications were not subject to a "rational purpose" test under the Fourteenth Amendment.
  • Roe V. Wade

    Roe V. Wade
    In 1970, Jane Roe filed a lawsuit against Henry Wade, the district attorney of Dallas County, Texas, where she resided, challenging a Texas law making abortion illegal except by a doctor’s orders to save a woman’s life. In her lawsuit, Roe alleged that the state laws were unconstitutionally vague and abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Justice Harry Blackmun delivered the opinion for the 7-2 majority in favor of Roe.
  • Bowers V. Hardwick

    Bowers V. Hardwick
    The divided Court found that there was no constitutional protection for acts of sodomy, and that states could outlaw those practices. Justice Byron White argued that the Court has acted to protect rights not easily identifiable in the Constitution only when those rights are "implicit in the concept of ordered liberty" or when they are "deeply rooted in the Nation's history and tradition". The Court held that the right to commit sodomy did not meet either of these standards.