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Supreme Court Cases

Schenck v. US (1919)
– Decision upholding the conviction of a socialist who had urged young men to resist the draft during World War I. Justice Holmes declared that government can limit speech if the speech provokes a “clear and present danger” of substantive evils.
Feiner v. New York (1951)
– ruled that speech can be constitutionally limited based on the reaction of it
Snyder v. Phelps (2011)
– The Court ruled that the First Amendment protects those who stage a peaceful protest on a matter of public concern near the funeral of a military service member from tort liability.
Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)
– Protected some forms of symbolic speech and ruled that students do not “shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
– case in which the Supreme Court struck down a law banning the burning of the American flag on the grounds that such action was symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.
Shaw v. Hunt (1996)
-Supreme Court ruled that gerrymandering cannot be done based on race (North Carolina wanted to gerrymander districts to favor African Americans because there were very few or none in multiple districts).
US v. Nixon (1974)
– No person is above the law, and the president can’t use executive privilege as an excuse to withhold evidence from a trial.
Buckley v. Valeo (1976)
-First,The Supreme Court held that restrictions on individual contributions to political campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment. Second, it found that governmental restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, the limitation on expenditures by candidates from their own personal or family resources, and the limitation on total campaign expenditures did violate the First Amendment
Bush v. Gore (2000)
– Popular votes should not be recounted in this case, because they would not all be counted and there would not be equal protection of the law.
Shelby County v. Holder (2013)
– ruled that states cannot make voting laws without federal approval and violated state sovereignty
US v. Lopez (1995)
– Supreme Court held that the federal government had no constitutional authority to create Gun-Free School Zones under the Commerce Clause. The Supreme Court also ruled that Congress had exceeded its power under the Commerce Clause.
Massachusetts v. EPA (2007)
– Supreme Court rules that the EPA has to regulate carbon emissions by motor vehicles
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012)
-The Supreme Court upheld Congress’ power to enact the Affordable Health Care Act ( ObamaCare) Also ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act does not bar a challenge to the constitutionality to the Affordable Care Act’s “individual mandate” provision, which requires Americans have health insurance or pay a penalty fine.
Roth v. US (1957)
– Supreme Court decision ruling that “obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press.”
FCC v. Pacifica Foundation (1978)
– Decision that expanded the powers of the FCC and allowed for government regulation of constitutionally protected speech.
District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
– The Supreme Court ruled that the right to bear arms is constitutionally protected (Heller wanted to own a handgun in DC; DC refused because of its stringent gun control laws).
Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
– The Supreme Court ruled economic development was for “public use” and it followed the Takings Clause of the Fifth amendment that states “no private property shall be taken for public use without just compensation” or pay.
Dredd Scott v. Sanford (1857)
– Ruled that African Americans were not citizens and therefore couldn’t petition to the Supreme Court and was overturned by the 14th amendment
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
– Upheld Jim Crow segregation by approving “seperate but equal” public facilities for African Americans
Missouri ex rel. Gaines v. Canada (1938)
– Began the fight for desegregation in higher education by establishing that states that had a higher education facility (graduate school) for whites must either make an equivalent facility for blacks or integrate; the stat could not merely send an African American to another state.
Korematsu v. US (1944)
– During WWII, Presidential Executive Order 9066 gave the military authority to exclude citizens of Japanese ancestry from areas deemed critical to national defense and potentially vulnerable to espionage. Korematsu denied orders and stayed in San leandro, CA and violated Civilian Exclusion Order No. 34 of the U.S. Army. The Court sided with the government and held that the need to protect against espionage outweighed Korematsu’s rights.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
– Ruled that racially segregated schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and overturned Plessy v. Ferguson
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US (1964)
-Supreme Court ruled that Congress did not unconstitutionally exceed its powers under the Commerce Clause by enacting Title II of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prohibited racial discrimination in public accommodations
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education (1971)
– Following Brown, North Carolina ended segregation but because neighborhoods were still primarily black or white, schools were still highly segregated. State proposed a busing program to de-segregate schools. The Supreme Court upheld the busing programs
UC Regents v. Bakke (1978)
– Ordered the Medical School at UC Davis admit Bakke because the quota system denied Bakke the equal protection guaranteed by the 14th amendment and ruled that race could be used as one factor among others in the competition for available places
Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
– Upheld the affirmative action policy for the University of Michigan Law School and upheld UC Regents v. Bakke
Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle District (2006)
– Race can not be a determining factor in admission to public schools.
Loving v. Commonwealth of Virginia (1967)
– Restricting the freedom to marry solely on the basis of race is unconstitutional because of the 14th amendment equal protection clause.
Bowers v. Hardwick (1986)
– rights of gays to participate in sodomy was not protected by the Constitution
US v Windsor (2013)
– DOMA unconstitutional under Due Process of fifth amendment
Ricci v. DeStefano (2009)
– Supreme Court ruled that a government body must accept the results of a merit test for a government job (Firefighters took a merit test and only the white examinees and one Latino passed while all African Americans failed. The test was thrown out for being culturally biased; white and Latino firefighters sued because they felt this was counter discrimination).
Arizona v. US (2012)
-Arizona law providing authority for local law enforcement to enforce immigration law, violated the enumerated powers of Congress and is pre-empted by federal statute. Arizona’s law enforcement may ask about a resident’s legal status during lawful encounters, but may not implement its own immigration rules
Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940)
– Supreme Court ruled that the state of Pennsylvania does have the right to force students to say the pledge of allegiance.
Everson v. Board of Education (1947)
– The state can use taxpayer money to reimburse students who take the public bus to religious schools, because it benefits students, not religion.
Epperson v. Arkansas (1968)
– Laws forbidding the teaching of evolution in schools are unconstitutional because they violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)
– Supreme Court decision that established that aid to church-related schools must (1) have a secular legislative purpose; (2) have a primary effect that neither advances nor inhibits religion; and (3) not foster excessive government entanglement with religion.
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
– Supreme Court decision holding that state officials violated the First Amendment when they wrote a prayer to be recited by New York’s schoolchildren.
Abbington v. Schempp (1963)
– Supreme Court decision holding that a Pennsylvania law requiring Bible reading in schools violated the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
Powell v. Alabama (1932)
– The right to counsel is required by law in death penalty trials.
Betts v. Brady (1942)
– Supreme Cour ruled that the right to counsel is not guaranteed under the Sixth Amendment (only guaranteed for capital crimes).
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
– supreme court decision holding that anyone accused of a felony where imprisonment may be imposed, however poor he or she might be, has a right to a lawyer.
Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)
– Statements to police are invalid if no lawyer is present.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
– Supreme Court decision that sets guidelines for police questioning of accused persons to protect them against self-incrimination and to protect their right to counsel.
Hamdan v. Rumsfield (2006)
– Supreme Court held that military commissions violated US law (specifically the United States Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the Geneva Conventions (International law; this case focused on the 3rd Convention which dealt with persons of POW status and their treatment).
Boumediene v. Bush (2007)
-The Supreme Court ruled that the Military Commissions Act (2006; part of the larger Detainee Treatment Act; removes jurisdiction of courts to hear habeas corpus petitions from Guantanamo detainees) is unconstitutional because it violates the Suspension Clause of the Constitution (government is not allowed to suspend habeas corpus once the writ has been issued).
Rasul v. Bush (2004)
– The Supreme Court ruled that although Cuba has “ultimate sovereignty” over Guantanamo, the US has sufficient jurisdiction to guarantee detainees habeas corpus rights.
Sheppard v. Maxwell (1966)
– The Supreme Court ruled that although freedom of expression (in terms of the media) should not be denied, trials must be held in objective and calm atmospheres. Trial courts have the authority to protect the fairness of proceedings. Media present at trials cannot sit near defendant.
Olmstead v. US (1928)
– The government can tap your phone without a warrant.
Katz v. US (1967)
– The government can not tap your phone without a warrant.
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
– Supreme Court decision ruling that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures must be extended to the states as well as to the federal government.
Nix v. Williams (1984)
– evidence that would inevitably be discovered after following constitutional laws is permissible in court (inevitable discovery doctrine).
Palko v. Connecticut (1937)
– Supreme Court decision that the protection from double jeopardy (being tried again if found not guilty) only applied in federal courts.
Benton v. Maryland (1969)
– overturned Palko v Connecticut, saying that protection from double jeopardy does apply in state courts.
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
– The Supreme Court ruled that Georgia’s use of the death penalty was unconstitutional, not because the death penalty itself is unconstitutional, but because each state must have strict guidelines for when the death penalty can be used, which Georgia did not.
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
– Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, stating, “It is an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes.” The court did not, therefore, believe that the death sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
– Ruled that a Connecticut law criminalized the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy (precedent for Roe v. Wade)
Roe v. Wade (1973)
– Supreme Court decision holding that a state ban on all abortions was unconstitutional. The decision forbade state control over abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy, permitted states to limit abortions to protect the mother’s health in the second trimester, and permitted states to protect the fetus during the third trimester.
Webster v. Reproductive Services (1989)
– Upheld Missouri legislation that imposed restrictions on using state funds, employees, and facilities with anything to do with abortion, legislation that was thought to be forbidden by the Roe v Wade decision.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
– case in which the Supreme Court loosened its standard for evaluating restrictions on abortion from one of “strict scrutiny” of any restraints on a “fundamental right” to one of “undue burden” that permits considerably more regulation.
Gonzales v. Carhart (2007)
-Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act was constitutional . It created the precedent that anyone who delivers and kills a living fetus could be subject to legal consequences, unless he or she performed the procedure to save the life of the mother.
Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood (2006)
– Specified restrictions on the term limit for abortion, specifically saying that the Partial Birth Ban Act that prohibited a certain type of abortion was not unconstitutional.
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
– supreme court decision holding that freedoms of press and speech are “fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the 14th amendment from impairment by the states” as well as by the federal government.
Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)
– Held that the 1st and 14th amendment protected speech at a KKK rally promoting violence because it did not advocate “imminent lawless action” or likely to cause such immediate action.
Citizens United v. FEC (2010)
– Corporations and unions can contribute as much as they want to campaigns, because, as legal entities, they have the right to free speech.
Miller v. California (1973)
– Supreme Court decision that avoided defining obscenity by holding that community standards be used to determine whether material is obscene in terms of appealing to a “prurient interest” and being “patently offensive” and lacking in value.
McDonald v. Chicago (2010)
– States can not ban guns because of the right to bear arms and equal protection of the law.
Lawrence and Garner v. Texas (2003)
– Due process makes it unconstitutional to prohibit private non-harmful actions.
Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013)
– Supreme Court ruled that opponents of same-sex marriage did not have standing to appeal to a lower court ruling that overturned the same-sex marriage ban, known as Proposition 8.
W. VA Board of Ed. v. Barnette (1943)
– The Free Speech clause of the First Amendment prohibits public schools from forcing students to salute the American flag and say the Pledge of Allegiance.
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
– Court ruled the section of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that allowed one to sue for writ of mandamus under original jurisdiction unconstitutional. More importantly, the case established judicial review.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
– Supreme Court decision that confirmed the right of Congress to utilize implied powers to carry out its expressed powers and validated the supremacy of the national government over the states by declaring that states cannot interfere with or tax the legitimate activities of the federal government
Baker v. Carr (1962)
– Ruled that the Judicial branch of government can rule on matters of legislative apportionment, used the principle of “one person, one vote,” and ordered state legislative districts to be as equal as possible.
Reynolds v. Sims (1964)
– Supreme Court struck down state senate inequality, basing their decision on the principle of “one person, one vote”.
Wesberry v. Sanders (1963)
– Established the principle of “one person, one vote” in drawing congressional districts and triggered widespread redistricting that gave cities and suburbs greater representation in Congress
INS v. Chadha (1983)
– The Supreme Court ruled the legislative veto unconstitutional.
Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)
– Supreme Court ruled the University of Michigan’s undergraduate admittance points system unconstitutional because it awarded an unrepresented minority 20 points automatically, thus setting up a quota system.

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