Key Cases

 

Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803)

Oyez

This landmark case established the process of judicial review, where the courts review the actions of the President or the Congress in order to determine whether they are constitutional or otherwise lawful.


This case established that the Constitution grants the Congress implied power to implement the express powers imparted by the Constitution and that state action cannot interfere with a constitutional exercise of power by the federal government. 

McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819)

Oyez


Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824)

Oyez

The Supreme Court held that the constitutional authority granted to Congress to regulate commerce extended to navigation, a significant expansion of the Commerce Clause.


Lochner v. New York, 198 US 45 (1905)

Oyez

The Court held that a State cannot pass laws that violate the freedom to contract, as that would be an impermissible violation of the due process and right to liberty afforded by the 14th Amendment.


Standard Oil Company of New Jersey v. United States, 221 U.S. 1 (1911)

Oyez

The Supreme Court held that an unreasonable restraint of trade violated the Sherman Anti-Trust Act. As a result of this decision, John D. Rockefeller's oil monopoly was broken up.


Wickard v. Filburn, 317 U.S. 111 (1942)

Oyez

The Supreme Court held that a small wheat farmer, who raised wheat exclusively for his own use, could nonetheless be regulated under the Commerce Clause. The Court found that since he used the wheat he raised, he did not have to purchase wheat, so his actions had an effect on interstate commerce. 


Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954)

Oyez

The Supreme Court held that "separate but equal" facilities for minority students were inherently unequal and violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. 


Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)

Oyez

The Supreme Court held that evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search must be excluded as a violation of the Fourth Amendment. This decision formed the base of what became known as the Exclusionary Rule.


Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963)

Oyez

This case established that any criminal defendant must be afforded the opportunity to be represented by an attorney.


New York Times v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)

Oyez

The public's interest in the conduct of public officials is so strong that the First Amendment protects even the publication of false stories. To prove libel in such a case, it must be proven that the story was printed with malice, that is knowledge that the story was false or reckless disregard that it could be.


Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966)

Oyez

The Fifth Amendment's protections against self-incrimination extend to interviews while in police custody. To make use of such a confession, the government must prove that the suspect was aware of his rights and chose to proceed anyway. The Miranda warnings were developed to provide those assurances.


Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397 (1989)

Oyez

The First Amendment right to freedom of expression extends to burning an American flag. "...the Government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."


Kelo, et al. v. City of New London, et al.,  545 U.S. 469 (2005)

Oyez

The government's power of eminent domain is extended from being able to seize for a public use to being able to see for a public benefit. Traditionally this power allowed the government to take land needed for roads, schools, prisons, etc. This decision expanded that power, such that the government can take property and even transfer it to another private party, if by doing so it will increase tax revenue, create jobs, etc.


District of Columbia v. Heller, 554 U.S. 570 (2008)

Oyez

The Second Amendment right to bear arms is not limited to those serving in a militia. Instead it should be read to “guarantee an individual right to possess and carry weapons in case of confrontation.”


Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010)

Oyez

Corporate funding of political speech cannot be restricted without violating the First Amendment. Political speech is indispensable to a democracy, regardless of whether it comes from a corporation.


Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ____ (2015)

Oyez

The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees the right to marry, which is a fundamental liberty. The Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees that right to same-sex couples. 


The White House...the center of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

The White House...the center of the Executive Branch of the Federal Government.

The Capitol Building...home to the United States House and Senate, the two houses of the Legislative Branch.

The Capitol Building...home to the United States House and Senate, the two houses of the Legislative Branch.

The home of the United States Supreme Court, the highest federal court in the country and the center of the Judicial Branch of government. 

The home of the United States Supreme Court, the highest federal court in the country and the center of the Judicial Branch of government.