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Supreme Court Cases

  • Marbury v. Madison

    Marbury v. Madison
    John Adams appointed “midnight judges” right before Thomas Jefferson was inaugurated. Secretary of State James Madison, did not deliver the commissions to the justices. Marbury sued Adams, and asked that Madison be forced to deliver his commission by the Supreme Court’s and the writ of mandamus under the Judiciary Act of 1789. The Supreme Court (under Chief Justice John Marshall) ruled that the Judiciary was unconstitutional, and Marbury lost. This established judicial review.
  • Fletcher v. Peck

    Fletcher v. Peck
    Georgia’s Yazoo Land Act sold land to four private speculators, which were approved for bribes. As a result of public outcry, Georgia repealed the act. John Peck had purchased land that had been sold under the act, which had then been sold to Robert Fletcher. Fletcher brought Peck to court, saying that Peck did not have a title when he sold the land. The Supreme Court ruled law unconstitutional. This is an important court case because it was the first time a state law was ruled unconstitutional.
  • Darmouth College v. Woodward

    Darmouth College v. Woodward
    The president of Dartmouth College was deposed, and the New Hampshire government tried to force the college to become a public school and put control of the school with the state. The Supreme Court ruled that the state could not do this, and the college remained private. This was an important case because it upheld keeping private corporations separate from the state, keeping private charters private, and led to, eventually, American business.
  • McCulloch vs. Maryland

    McCulloch vs. Maryland
    Maryland enacted a tax on all banks in the state and McColloch refused to pay the tax, declaring that the state did not have the right to tax banks, only the federal government could do that. The Supreme Court decided that McCullogh was right. This case was important because it increased the power of the federal government, indicating loose interpretations of the Constitution.
  • Gibbons vs. Ogden

    Gibbons vs. Ogden
    Aaron Ogden went to court to try and prevent Gibbons from ooperating his boats in certain water, refering to state laws in New York. Gibbons said that the federal court was in control of interstate commerce, so he was doing nothing wrong. Gibbons won. This case was important because it increased the power of the federal government, indicating that they had more say over the state governments.
  • Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia

    Cherokee Nation vs. Georgia
    Georgia had passed laws that took away all rights of the Cherokee tribes. The tribe appealed to the Supreme Court for their rights back, saying that it was unconstitutional. The Supreme Court responded that the Cherokee tribes were not a state in the United States, but a dependent nation, and that it could not hear the case. This was important because it was the first instance where America ignored the rights of the Natives and took what it wanted from them, even if America did not deserve it.
  • Worcester vs. Georgia

    Worcester vs. Georgia
    The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Samuel Worcester for being on Indian grounds without a license. It stated that Georgia had no influence on Indian grounds and therefore could not enfore policy of the actions of those lands since they were technically not part of the country, This case was important because it indcates the power of the Supreme Court to overturn decisions of the states, giving it more power.
  • Prigg vs. Pennsylvania

    Prigg vs. Pennsylvania
    Maragret Morgan, a slave, had fled to Pennsylvania. Edward Prigg went after her, arrested her, and returned her to Maryland. He appealed to the Supreme Court when convicted with abduction. He said that Pennsylvania law was unconstitutional because it tried to be more powerful than the federal law regarding slavery. Prigg won. This case was important because it decreaed state power and increased slave tensions.
  • Dred Scott vs. Sandford

    Dred Scott vs. Sandford
    This case decided that slaves were not referenced in the Constitution. It decided that slaves were not citizens and that they could not be protected under federal law and they could not sue in court since they were not citizens. Scott had believed that he was free when taken by his master to Illinois, a free state. He sued his master for keeping him in slavery. This was important because it upheld slavery and decreased any rights the slaves may have potentially had.
  • United States vs. Reese

    United States vs. Reese
    This was the first attempt to overturn the poll taxes, literacy tests, and grandfather clauses that had been put in place. Reese challenged the United States in court. However, the court upheld the laws, saying that under the 15th Amendment, none of these were discriminating in any way since nothing about race was mentioned in the Amendment.
  • Munn vs. Illinois

    Munn vs. Illinois
    The case allowed states to control businesses within their borders, especially railroads. Munn had wanted the state powers to be declared unconstitutional, but they were upheld. The case was important because it upheld the Granger Laws and the Fourteenth Amendmend, allowing states more power than was previously distributed.
  • Elk vs. Wilkins

    Elk vs. Wilkins
    John Elk was a Native American who wanted to become a citizen of the United States. He argued that since he was born in the U.S., he should have the right to be a citizen. The court ruled that a Native American cannot become a citizen without the consent of the government. They are not citizens just for being born U.S. Under the 14th Amendment, they need to become citizens.
  • Munn v. Illinois

    Munn v. Illinois
    Munn went to court arguing that the state of Ilinois had no right to control the prices of grain elevators. He said that the power to do so was under the control of the federal government. The court decided that under the 14th Amendment, the state had the right to control the prices of grain elevators. This power of the state was overturned later in Wabash vs. Illinois.
  • Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad

    Santa Clara County vs. Southern Pacific Railroad
    The court case dealed with the taxation on ralroad properies and businesses. The railroad business agrued that under the 14th Amendment, corporations are protected as people. Therefore, they must be treated like people of the state, and taxes cannot be overbearing. The corporation won.
  • Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois

    Wabash, St. Louis & Pacific Railway Company v. Illinois
    This court case dealt with the rights of the states to control interstate commerce. The railroad corporation said that Illinois had violated the power of government of the United States by trying to control interstate commerce. The court decided in a 6-3 majority that under the Commerce Clause, Illinois had violated its rights. This case lead to the Interstate Commerce Commission and oveturned the decision from Munn vs. Illinois.
  • United States v. E. C. Knight Co.

    United States v. E. C. Knight Co.
    This case helped limit the governmental power over monopolies. The E.C. Knight company had gotten control of 98% of the sugar refining agencies. The government thought this went against the Sherman Anti Trust Act, so they sued them. The government lost. The court decided that it was outside the governmental power to control the manufacture of monopolies. The Sherman Anti Trust Act was then reduced and the government lost power over businesses.
  • Plessy vs. Ferguson

    Plessy vs. Ferguson
    The case started when Plessy boarded a white car on a train and refued to move, causing the police to arrest him. He went to court arguing that under the 13th and 14th Amendments, he was free to sit anywhere he wanted. The judge (Ferguson) said that the state of Louisiana had the right to control the railroads as long as they were in state boundaries. The decision was that Louisiana had done nothing wrong. Plessy lost.
  • Williams v. Mississippi

    Williams v. Mississippi
    Williams went to court arguing that the use of literacy tests and poll taxes were unfair. He knew that "grandfather clauses" (which stated that one can vote only if one's grandfather voted) were created to make it harder for blacks to have the right to vote. He said that they were created because no black person's grandfather voted, having been in slavery. The court decided that the tests and taxes were not discriminatory in any way. Williams lost.
  • NorthernSecurities Co. v. United States

    NorthernSecurities Co. v. United States
    Important supreme court case, where the Supreme Court ruled that the stockholders of Great Northern and Northern Pacific railroad companies had formed a monopoly. They then ruled to dissolve the Northern Securities Company. The court enforced the Sherman Anti-trust Act, and Northern Securities lost.
  • Lochner v. New York

    Lochner v. New York
    In New York, there was a law that limited the number of hours in a baker’s workday to ten hours, and limited to 60 hours per week. The Supreme Court ruled that this law was unconstitutional, stating that the law was not a necessity for the protection of the bakers. This court case is also representative of the Supreme Court’s controversial decisions during this era that did not support federal and state laws regulating work. Joseph Lochner, owner of a bakery, won the case.
  • Muller v. Oregon

    Muller v. Oregon
    In Oregon, labor laws restricted the working hours of women to ten hours a day, claiming that they had to protect women’s health. Muller was an owner of a laundry business who violated the labor laws. When he appealed to the Supreme Court, the court upheld the Oregon labor laws. Muller lost. This law was important because it contradicted the decision in Lochner v. New York and upheld gender discrimination. Oregon was also defended by Louis Brandeis, future Supreme Court Justice.
  • Standard Oil Co. of NJ v. United States

    Standard Oil Co. of NJ v. United States
    Standard Oil Co. had formed a monopoly in the petroleum industry by undercutting competitors. The court enforced the Sherman Anti-trust Act in this case, and divided Standard Oil Co. into several different companies in order to increase competition. Standard Oil Company lost.
  • Schenck v. U.S.

    Schenck v. U.S.
    Schenk was a socialist indicted for the printing, distribution, and mailing of anti-draft pamphlets to military draftees, which violated the Espionage Act (illegal to impede the draft). Schenk believed that this decision violated his First Amendment rights; however, the Supreme Court ruled that Schenk did not have the right to speak out against the draft, stating that his speech posed clear and present danger. Schenk lost the case.
  • Debs v. United States

    Debs v. United States
    Debs was the leader of the Socialist Party of America. He made an anti-war speech, protesting against World War I, specifically the draft. He was arrested for violating the Espionage Act. When Debs appealed to the Supreme Court, the court upheld Debs’s indictment, stating that he was guilty of treason and trying to create mutiny through the prevention of the drafting of soldier’s and that his First Amendment rights did not protect him. Debs lost.
  • Adkins vs. Children's Hospital

    Adkins vs. Children's Hospital
    The case was a Supreme Court opinion that the minimum wage for women was unconstitutional because of the due process clause in the Fifth Amendment. The court believed that this prevented workers from arguing about their wages, and it highly restricted their freedoms. The case reversed Muller vs. Oregon.
  • Schechter vs. U.S.

    Schechter vs. U.S.
    Schechter Poultry Corp. went against the U.S. saying that the National Industrial Recovery Act was unconstitutional. It believed that the federal government had no right regulating the poultry industry and that the government had gone outside its rights. The Supreme Court decided unanimously that Schechter was right. The NIRA was declared unconstitutional.
  • Korematsu vs. U.S.

    Korematsu vs. U.S.
    Fred Korematsu was a Japanese-American who believed that the relocation camps for the Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor were unconstitutional and took away rights. He faced the United States, who believed that these camps were necessary to protect the people. Korematsu lost, the camps were upheld.
  • Ex parte Endo

    Ex parte Endo
    Mitsuye Endo was a Japanese woman who was movied to a relocation camp during WWII. She tried to get a petition in order to get out of the camp, but it was turned down in every case. She appealed to the Supreme Court. It decided that the government could not continue to hold a citizen that they deemed loyal to the United States. Endo won.
  • Cramer vs. U.S.

    Cramer vs. U.S.
    Cramer was a German American charged with treason against the United States during WWII. He appealed to the Supreme Court, saying that the two Germans (who wee in America for sabotage) had been business associates and he had not been helping them. The Court decided 5 to 4 that Cramer did not meet the definition of treason in Article III of the Constitution. Cramer won.
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

    Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
    Unanimous Supreme Court decision that ruled that “separate but equal” public schools for black students and white students were unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Ed overturned the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson case, which stated that state-sponsored segregation was legal. De jure racial segregation became a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. This court case was a huge step for the civil rights movement, for desegregation and the integration of blacks and whites, especially in schools.
  • Gideon v. Wainwright

    Gideon v. Wainwright
    Gideon was charged in Florida for breaking and entering, but lacked funds and could not hire a lawyer. The court refused to appoint an attorney for Gideon. When the case reached the Supreme Court, they ruled unanimously in favor of Gideon. It is mandatory for a person to be appointed an attorney, and a fundamental right according to the Sixth Amendment. This is an important case because the same system is still in place today, with the poor being provided for attorneys. This also created more eq
  • New York Times Co. v. Sullivan

    New York Times Co. v. Sullivan
    Important Supreme Court case dealing with the freedom of speech. The court established an actual malice standard that had to be met before public officials and figures could sue for defamation or libel. The plaintiff had to prove that the defamation/libel of the publisher knew the statement was false. This gave the press more freedom to report, especially on the civil rights campaigns. Prior to the case, especially in the South, news organizations were hesitant and careful when reporting on civi
  • Miranda v. Arizona

    Miranda v. Arizona
    The court ruled that a defendant in police custdoy must be informed of their rights, or else they cannot go to trial. They must be informed that they have a right to an attorney and a right to be silent to avoid self-incrimination. The defendant has to understand and waive these rights. This case is very important today, because the Miranda rights that resulted from the case are still told to anyone
  • Roe v. Wade

    Roe v. Wade
    Landmark supreme court case that dealt with the issue of abortion. The court ruled that a woman has the right to privacy under the due process clause to get an abortion. However, this right is balanced by state interests in abortion regulation (prenatal life preservation and the health of the mother). Thus, the court ruled that states could regulate abortion based on the trimester of pregnancy. This court is important in history because abortion rights were part of the feminist movement, and the