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US Court Cases

(1803) Marbury v. Madison
William Marbury (one of Adams’ midnight appointments), sued Secretary of State Madison to force delivery of his commission as a justice of the peace in the federal district; Marshall would not rule on it, because he said the law that gave the Supreme Court power to rule over such matter was unconstitutional
established the policy of judicial review over federal legislation
Precedent of the Supreme Court’s power to rule on the constitutionality of federal laws
(1810) Fletcher v. Peck
Georgia legislature issued extensive land grants to Yazoo Land Company; afterwards, it was considered corrupt, so there was a legislative session that repealed the action
Court ruled that the original contract was valid and could not be broken
(1819) Dartmouth College v. Woodward
Republicans back the president of the college, Federalists backed the trustees
president try to make it a public institution (instead of private) by having the charter revoked
ruled that even though charter was granted by the king, it was still a contract and thus could not be changed without the consent of both parties
(1819) McCulloch v. Maryland
state of MD tried to levy a tax on the Baltimore branch of the Bank of the United States (to protect the competitive position of state banks)
ruled against state, b/c state had no right to control an agency of the federal gov’t
(1824) Gibbons v. Ogden
NY state had granted monopoly to Ogden of Hudson River. Gibbons obtained a permit from Congress to operate steamboat there
Ogden sued, and state ruled in his favor
Marshall ruled that it was interstate commerce and could not be regulated by a state (only Congress could) – the monopoly was then voided
(1831) Cherokee Nation v. Georgia
Court refused to hear case, which the Cherokees brought forward, b/c GA had abolished their tribal legislature and courts (said that because the tribe was a “foreign nation, the decision should be made by the Supreme Court)
Marshall said they really were not foreign nations (they just had special status)
(1832) Worcester v.Georgia
GA state gov’t said any US citizen who wanted to enter Cherokee territory had to obtain permission from the governor
GA law was overturned, b/c the federal gov’t had the constitutionally mandated role of regulating trade with the tribes
Jackson said of Marshall “John Marshall has made his decision. Now let him enforce it”
(1842) Commonwealth v. Hunt
· Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled unions and strikes were legal
(1842) Prigg v. Pennsylvania
Court ruled that states did not have to enforce the return of fugitive slaves
Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (MD) – Pro-South
(1856) Dred Scott v. Sanford
Dred Scott, (slave from Missouri), had been taken to Illinois (a free state) by his owner for several years, so he sued for his freedom
ruled that he, as a slave, was not a slave, and could not sue in court
(1877) Munn v. Illinois
upheld Granger Laws that regulated railroads
(1886) Wabash Case (Wabash, St.Louis, and Pacific Railroad Co. v. Illinois)
ruled one of the Granger laws in Illinois was unconstitutional because it tried to control interstate commerce, which was a power of Congress only
restricted state regulation of commerce
(1895) United States v. E.C. Knight Co.
Congress charged that a single trust controlled 98% of refined sugar manufacturing in the US, but Court rejected case because trust was involved in manufacturing, NOT interstate commerce (which was what Congress could control), so, trust was not illegal
weakened Sherman Antitrust Act
(1896) Plessy v. Ferguson
ruled that segregation was allowed, as long as the facilities were “separate but equal”
(1898) Williams v. Mississippi
Court allowed literacy tests for voting

(1904) Northern Securities Company v. United States
· Arrangement formed monopoly illegally restraining interstate commerce
· Dissolved the Northern Securities Company.
· Ruling upheld free enterprise
(1908) Muller v Oregon
· Justifies both sex discrimination and usage of labor laws
· Upheld Oregon states restrictions on working hours of women
· State interest in protecting women’s health.
(1919) Schenck V United States
· No right to free speech against the draft during World War I
· First Amendment does not protect speech encouraging wartime insubordination
(1936)United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp
· Upheld supremacy of executive branch to conduct foreign affairs
· Established principle of executive supremacy in national security
· Upheld export limitations on the grounds of national security
(1944) Korematsu v. United States
Roosevelt’s 1942 order that Issei and Nisei be relocated to concentration camps was challenged
Court upheld ruling
(1944) Smith v. Allwright
Supreme Court stopped the Texas primary elections because they had violated the 15th amendment by being restricted only to whites
(1950) Sweatt v. Painter
ruled that blacks must be allowed to attend integrated law schools in OK and TX
(1954) Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall challenge decision from Plessy v. Ferguson
Court ruled that the separate educational facilities were not equal
1955 – said states must “integrate with great speed”
**(note: when Court announces Brown II decision, Montgomery bus boycotts began)
(1957) Roth v. United States
greatly limited the authority of local governments to curb pornography
(1962) Engel v. Vitale
ruled that prayers in public schools were unconstitutional
(1962) Baker v. Carr
required state legislatures to apportion electoral districts so all
citizens votes would have equal weight
New York Times v. Sullivan
Court held that debate on public issues would be inhibited if public officials could sue for inaccuracies made by mistake.
Extended the protection offered the press by the First Amendment.
Made it more difficult for public officials to bring libel charges against the press
(1966) Miranda v. Arizona
confirmed the obligation of authorities to inform a criminal suspect of his or her rights
(1971) Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
Court ruled in favor of forced busing to achieve racial balance in schools
(1972) Furman v. Georgia
overturned existing capital punishment statutes and established strict new guidelines for such laws in the future
(1973) Roe v. Wade
based on new theory of constitutional “right to privacy” (first recognized in Grizwold v. Connecticut)
invalidated all laws prohibiting abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy
(1976) Gregg v. Georgia
· Death penalty does not violate the Constitution.
(1978) Regents of the University of California v. Bakke
Imposed limitations on affirmative action
Use of rigid quotas for applicants based on race was not permissible
Affirmative action is unfair if it leads to reverse discrimination.
(1989) Webster v. Reproductive Health Services
Court upheld a law from Missouri that prohibited public employees from performing abortions, unless the life of the mother was threatened
because of this decisions, some states tried to create similar laws
(1989) Texas v. Johnson
·     Court ruled burning American flag is covered under Free speech

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