AP Government - Landmark Cases of the Supreme Court

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Marbury v. Madison (1803)
- Article III, judicial powers - established "judicial review" (declare the Court's power to find acts of Congress unconstitutional) - Marshall
Dartmouth v. Woodward (1819)
- Article I, Section 10, Contract Clause - "Contract" refers to transactions involving individual property rights not to "the political relations between the govt. and its citizens" - College's corp. charter is a contract btwn. private parties - The Contract Clause prohibits states from violating contracts with private or public corporations - Marshall
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
- Maryland may not impose tax on bank - Congress has the power under the Necessary and Proper Clause to charter the second Bank of the United States. - "Power to tax implies power to destroy." - "Bank of the United States" case - Marshall
Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)
- Article I, Section 8, Commerce Clause - Under the Constitution's Supremacy Clause, the New York monopoly was void because it conflicted with federal law - Strengthened power of the US to regulate any interstate commerce (federal reg. of television, pipelines, banking...) - Marshall
Barron v. Baltimore (1833)
- Bill of Rights, Fifth Amendment, Due Process on Property - The provisions of the first eight amendments applied only to the national government, not to the states - Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in case since 5th Amendment not applicable to states - Marshall
Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)
- Fifth Amendment, Due Process Rights - Held portions of the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional in violation of the Fifth Amendment, treating Scott as property, not as a person. - State citizenship for natnl. citizenship only - Taney
Reynolds v. United States (1879)
- First Amendment, Free Exercise Clause - The federal anti-bigamy statute does not violate the religious Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment - "Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action...submissive to good order." - Waite
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
- Fourteenth Amendment, Equal Protection Clause - Equal but separate accommodations for whites and blacks imposed by Louisiana do not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment - 14th Amend. "not intended to give Negroes social equality but only political/civil equality" - Overturned by Brown v. Board of Education - Fuller
Weeks v. United States (1914)
- Fourth Amendment, Illegal Evidence, Warrants and/or Probable Cause - The Fourth Amendment prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures applies to Weeks and the evidence thus seized must be excluded from prosecuting him. - "Exclusionary rule" for illegally gained evidence in federal courts (first time) (evidence cannot be introduced into trial if it was not constitutionally obtained) - White
Schenck v. United States (1919)
- First Amendment, Freedom of Speech - The Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment does not shield advocacy urging conduct deemed unlawful under the Espionage Act - Court limited free speech in time of war ("clear and present danger") - "clear and present danger" doctrine - Precedent that 1st Amend. guarantees not absolute - White
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
- First Amendment, Freedom of Speech; Fourteenth Amendment, Due Process Clause - The Free Speech Clause does not shield Gitlow from the New York statute, "criminal anarchy law" - Freedoms of speech and press apply to to the states - First consideration of "incorporation doctrine": incorporating the 14th Amendment with something in the Bill of Rights to force states to do something - Taft
Powell v. Alabama (1932)
- Sixth Amendment, Right to Counsel; Fourteenth Amendment, Due Process Clause - The trial court denied defendants due process by failing to provide reasonable opportunity to secure counsel in their defense - Development of "fundamentals of fairness" doctrine - Poor facing death penalty in state court must be provided counsel - Step toward incorporation - first case to use incorporation - Hughes
Korematsu v. United States (1944)
- Fifth Amendment, Civil Rights - The exclusion order applying to Americans of Japanese descent was lawful - "Pressing public necessity (emergency and peril) may sometimes justify exist. of restrictions which curtail the civil rights of a single racial group..." - Stone
Youngstown v. Sawyer (1952)
- War Powers, Executive Power - Truman lacks constitutional authority to seize and operate the steel mills - No Congressional statue authorizes Prez. to take possession of pvt. property - Military power as CIC does not extend to labor disputes - Vinson
Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas (1954)
- 14th Amend, Equal Protection Clause - Separate but equal educational facilities for racial minorities is inherently unequal violating the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment - Overturned Plessy v. Ferguson - Warren
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
- 4th Amendment; 14th Amendment, Due Process Clause - 1957, Cleveland, Mapp sees Police Officers in her house with a search warrant. The address on the warrant is wrong. Police officers ignore her and continue ransacking her house and finds 2 books, a book on sex and a sketchbook of nude figures. They arrest her for possession of obscene materials. - She was tried and committed for 7 years in prison. Bailed out. - Lawyer took the case to the Supreme Court in 1960. - "Exclusionary rule" applies to citizens in state courts, ALL have 4th Amendment Rights (evidence cannot be introduced into trial if it was not constitutionally obtained) - Further developed "incorporation" - Warren
Baker v. Carr (1962)
- 14th Amendment, Equal Protection Clause - State reapportionment claims are justiciable in federal court - "One man, one vote" = equal representation (everyone's vote counts equally) - Warren
Engel v. Vitale (1962)
- 1st Amendment, Establishment Clause - Unconstitutional to have required prayer in school - Neither the prayer's nondenominational character nor its voluntary character saves it from unconstitutionality. - Warren
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
- 6th Amendment, Right to Counsel; 14th Amendment, Due Process - "Gideon Rule" upheld 6th Amendment's guarantee of counsel (for all poor persons facing a felony charge) - Further incorporation of Bill into state constitutions on right to counsel - Warren
School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp (1963)
- 1st Amendment, Free Exercise & Establishment Clause - Created rule holding that if the purpose and effect of a law "is the advancement or inhibition of religion," it "exceeds the scope of legislative power" - Warren
Escobedo v. Illinois (1964)
- 5th Amendment; 6th Amendment, Right to Counsel - "Exclusionary rule" extended to illegal confession in state court proceedings - "Escobedo rule" = If suspect in custody and requests lawyer and police have not reminded him of right to remain silent, violation of counsel in 6th Amend. - Warren
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. United States (1964)
- Article I, Section I, Interstate Commerce - Power of Congress to promote interstate reg. also includes power to reg. local incidents, including local activities which have subst. and harmful effect upon that commerce - Warren
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
- 14th Amendment, Due Process Clause; 9th Amendment, (Implied) Right to Privacy - "Various guarantees" of Const. create "zones of privacy" - More careful inspection of concept of "unenumerated rights" in 9th Amend, later central to Roe v. Wade - Contraception was initially illegal but this case made it a women's choice - Warren
In Re Gault (1967)
- 14th Amendment, Due Process Clause - "In Regards to the Gault Case" (Gault was a minor) - Adequate notice of charges, notification of both the parents and the child of the juvenile's right to counsel, opportunity for confrontation and cross-examination at the hearings, and adequate safeguards against self-incrimination for juveniles - minors have same rights as adults when incriminated - Warren
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
- 5th, 6th, and 14th Amend, Due Process - The Fifth Amendment requires that law enforcement officials advise suspects of their right to remain silent and to obtain an attorney during interrogations while in police custody. - Modified by Nix, 1984 - Firmly uphold citizen rights to fair trial in state courts - Warren
Tinker v. Des Moines School District (1969)
- 1st Amendment, Free Speech - students wanted to wear a black armband with a peace sign but school officials were against it - Uphold students' First Amend. rights - Schools need to show evidence of possibility of "substantial disruption" before free speech can be limited at school - Warren
Lemon v. Kurtzmann (1971)
- 1st Amendment, Establishment Clause - The Rhode Island statute is unconstitutional under the religion clause of First Amendment for excessive entanglement of state and church. - Lemon Test: #1) Purpose of aid must be clearly secular; #2) Primary effect neither advance nor inhibit religion; #3) Avoid "excessive entanglement of govt. w/religion" - Burger
Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)
- 1st Amendment, Free Exercise Clause - Individual's interests in the free exercise of religion under the First Amendment outweighed the State's interests in compelling school attendance beyond the eighth grade - Court more carefully weigh state's "legitimate social concern when faced w/religious claim for exemption from generally applicable edu. requirements" - Burger
Furman v. Georgia (1972)
- 8th Amendment, Capital Punishment - Imposition of the death penalty in these cases constituted cruel and unusual punishment and violated the Constitution - "Apparent arbitrariness of the use of the sentence" - States rewrote death-penalty statutes - Burger
Miller v. California (1973)
- 1st Amendment, Freedom of the Press - Obscene materials are not protected by the First Amendment, but the definition (Miller Rule) of "obscene material" is lessened - Rule: Avg. person find work appealed to prurient interest; Describes, offensively, sexual conduct defined by state law; Lacks serious literary, artistic, political, scientific value - Court gave a mixed response answer, not definitive - Burger
Roe v. Wade (1973)
- 9th Amendment, (Implied) Right to Privacy; 14th Amendment, Due Process - Woman's right to an abortion fell within the right to privacy (recognized in Griswold v. Connecticut) protected by the Fourteenth Amendment - Gave a woman total autonomy over the pregnancy during the first trimester and defined different levels of state interest for the second and third trimesters - Modified by Webster, 1989 - Burger
United States v. Nixon (1974)
- Article I, Section 2, Executive Privilege - Neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified, presidential privilege - Limited executive privilege in areas of military or diplomatic affairs, but gave preference to "the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of justice." - Burger
Gregg v. Georgia (1976)
- 8th Amendment, Cruel and Unusual Punishment - Punishment of death did not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under all circumstances (1st time) - In extreme criminal cases, such as when a defendant has been convicted of deliberately killing another, the careful and judicious use of the death penalty may be appropriate if carefully employed - Burger
Regents of University of California v. Bakke (1978)
- 14th Amendment, Equal Protection Clause; Affirmative Action - Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 provides Bakke a cause of action. - Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not prohibit the university's race-based admissions program. - The Equal Protection Clause permits race to be one factor, among many, in an admissions program. - The Equal Protection Clause prohibits the university's specific race-based admissions program, and Bakke shall be admitted. - Take discrimination questions on case-by-case basis - Burger
New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)
- 4th Amendment - The search resulting in the discovery of the evidence of marijuana dealing by the student was reasonable - Need to maintain environ. where learning can take place => easing of restrictions for public searches - "Reasonable suspicion" (decided by admin), not "probably cause" (wider society) - Burger
Edwards v. Aguillard (1987)
- 1st Amendment, Freedom of Religion/Education - Louisiana law to teach evolution and creationism together unconstitutional - Court used Lemon Test to strike down the law - Rehnquist
Texas v. Johnson (1989)
- 1st Amendment, Freedom of Speech/Expression - Johnson's burning of a flag was protected expression under the First Amendment - Johnson's actions fell into the category of expressive conduct and had a distinctively political nature - "Nothing in precedents suggest that state may foster its own view of flag by prohibiting expressive conduct relating to it" - Depends on where you perform the action - Rehnquist
Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989)
- 10th Amendment; 9th Amendment, Right to Privacy; 14th Amend, Due Process Clause - Due Process Clause did not require states to enter into the business of abortion, and did not create an affirmative right to governmental aid in the pursuit of constitutional rights (in favor of Missouri) - People, through legislature, can put limits on use of public funds - no tax money can be given to clinics/hospitals that give abortions, led to the creation of Planned Parenthood (Interest group) - Narrowed protection of Roe v. Wade, 1973 - Rehnquist
Oregon v. Smith (1990)
- 1st Amendment, Free Exercise Clause - Court has never held that an individual's religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that government is free to regulate - Things include military service, taxes, vaccinations, child-neglect laws - Rehnquist
Westside Community Schools v. Mergens (1990)
- 1st Amendment, Freedom of Speech - Court held that since Westside permitted other noncurricular clubs, it was prohibited under the Equal Access Act from denying equal access to any after-school club based on the content of its speech - "Equal Access" - Not "state sponsorship of religion" - Rehnquist
Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)
- 14th Amendment, Due Process - Reaffirmed Roe, but it upheld most of the Pennsylvania provisions - The new standard for first time (If minor, consent from parent; Wait 24 hours) asks whether a state abortion regulation has the purpose or effect of imposing an "undue burden," which is defined as a "substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion before the fetus attains viability." - initially the provisions were: parent permission, wait for 24 hours, and father of the child has to be informed - Only provision to fail the undue-burden test was the husband notification requirement - Rehnquist
United States v. Lopez (1995)
- Article I, Section 8, Commerce Clause - The possession of a gun in a local school zone is not an economic activity that might, through repetition elsewhere, have a substantial effect on interstate commerce - Law is a criminal statute that has nothing to do with "commerce" or any sort of economic activity - Rehnquist
Printz v. United States (1997)
- 10th Amendment, Supremacy Clause - While Congress may require the federal government to regulate commerce directly, in this case by performing background-checks on applicants for handgun ownership, the Necessary and Proper Clause does not empower it to compel state CLEOs to fulfill its federal tasks for it - even temporarily - Rehnquist
Dickerson v. United States (2000)
- 5th Amendment, Due Process - Miranda governs the admissibility of statements made during custodial interrogation in both state and federal courts - Starre decisis (precedent) outweighs overturning - Rehnquist
Santa Fe Independent School District v. Doe (2000)
- 1st Amendment, Establishment Clause - Permitting student-led, student-initiated prayer at football games violates the Establishment Clause - Football game prayers were public speech authorized by a government policy and taking place on government property at government-sponsored school-related events and that the District's policy involved both perceived and actual government endorsement of the delivery of prayer at important school events. Such speech is not properly characterized as "private" - Rehnquist
Stenberg v. Carhart (2000)
- 9th Amendment, Right to Privacy; 14th Amendment, Due Process - "Nebraska's statute criminalizing the performance of "partial birth abortion[s]" violates the U.S. Constitution, as interpreted in Casey and Roe." - Law placed an undue burden on a woman's right to have an abortion and did not allow for exception in cases of threatened health - Rehnquist
Atkins v. Virginia (2002)
- 8th Amendment, Cruel and Unusual Punishment - Executions of mentally retarded criminals are "cruel and unusual punishments" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment - Rehnquist
Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)
- 14th Amendment, Equal Protection Clause - Racial preferences in undergrad admissions violates Equal Protection Clause and Title VI - Because the policy did not provide individual consideration, but rather resulted in the admission of nearly every applicant of "underrepresented minority" status, it was not narrowly tailored in the manner required by previous jurisprudence on the issue - Strike down racial preference as a deciding factor - Rehnquist
Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)
- 14th Amendment, Equal Protection Clause - Equal Protection Clause does not prohibit the Law School's narrowly tailored use of race in admissions decisions to further a compelling interest in obtaining the educational benefits that flow from a diverse student body (graduate level) - Rehnquist
Roper v. Simmons (2005)
- 8th Amendment, Cruel and Unusual Punishment - Executing minors is "cruel and unusual punishment" prohibited by the Eighth Amendment - Disproportionate punishment for minors - Rehnquist
Kelo v. New London, CT (2005)
- 5th Amendment, Due Process Clause (no person shall be deprived of life, liberty or due process); Taking Clause (taking away of private property with compensation; "eminent domain") - City's taking of private property to sell for private development qualified as a "public use" within the meaning of the takings clause - The city was not taking the land simply to benefit a certain group of private individuals, but was following an economic development plan. Such justifications for land takings, the majority argued, should be given deference. - Rehnquist
Gonzales v. Raich (2005)
- Article I, Section 8, Commerce Clause - Commerce clause gave Congress authority to prohibit the local cultivation and use of marijuana, despite state law to the contrary - Court's precedent "firmly established" Congress' commerce clause power to regulate purely local activities that are part of a "class of activities" with a substantial effect on interstate commerce - Rehnquist
Gonzales v. Carhart (2007)
- 9th Amendment, Right to Privacy; 14th Amendment, Due Process - Congress's ban on partial-birth abortion was not unconstitutionally vague and did not impose an undue burden on the right to an abortion - Act (Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act) applies only to the intact D&E method (also known as "partial-birth abortion") and not to the more common D&E procedure - Congress, after finding intact D&E never to be medically necessary, could validly omit a health exception from the ban, even when "some part of the medical community" considers the procedure necessary - Roberts
McDonald v. Chicago (2010)
- 2nd Amendment, Right to Bear Arms; 14th Amendment, Due Process Clause - Reversed the Seventh Circuit, holding that the Fourteenth Amendment makes the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for the purpose of self-defense applicable to the states - Roberts