Court Cases and Literature

Court Cases

Marbury v. Madison

1803

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

Fletcher v. Peck

1810

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land grants to Yazoo Land Company; afterwards, it was considered corrupt, so there was a legislative session that repealed the action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

Dartmouth College v. Woodward

1819

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

McCulloch v. Maryland

1819

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, because state had no right to control an agency of the federal government

Gibbons v. Ogden

1824

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

Cherokee Nation v. Georgia

1831

Court refused to hear case, which the Cherokees brought forward, because 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)

Worcester v.Georgia

1832

Georgia state government said any US citizen who wanted to enter Cherokee territory had to obtain permission from the governor
Georgia law was overturned, b/c the federal government 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"

Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge

1837

The interests of the community are more important than the interests of business; the supremacy of society’s interest over private interest.

Commonwealth v. Hunt

1842

Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that unions and strikes were legal

Dred Scott Case

1865

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

Wabash Case

1886

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

Plessy v. Ferguson

1896

Ruled that segregation was allowed, as long as the facilities were "separate but equal"

Northern Securities Co. v. U. S.

1904

Re-established the authority of the federal government to fight monopolies under the Sherman Anti-Trust Act.

Lochner v. New York

1905

Declared unconstitutional a New York act limiting the working hours of bakers due to a denial of the 14th Amendment rights.

Muller v. Oregon

1908

First case to use the "Brandeis brief"; recognized a 10-hour work day for women laundry workers on the grounds of health and community concerns.

Schenck v. U. S.

1919

Unanimously upheld the Espionage Act of 1917 which declared that people who interfered with the war effort were subject to imprisonment; declared that the 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech was not absolute; free speech could be limited if its exercise presented a "clear and present danger."

Adkins v. Children’s Hospital

1923

Declared unconstitutional a minimum wage law for women on the grounds that it denied women freedom of contract.

Schechter v. U. S.

1936

Sometimes called "the sick chicken case." Unanimously declared the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) unconstitutional on three grounds: that the act delegated legislative power to the executive; that there was a lack of constitutional authority for such legislation; and that it sought to regulate businesses that were wholly intrastate in character.

Korematsu v. United States

1944

The court upheld the constitutionality of detention camps for Japanese-Americans during World War 2.

Sweatt v. Painter

1950

Ruled that African Americans must be allowed to attend integrated law schools in OK and TX

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka

1954

NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall challenge decision from Plessy v. Ferguson
Court ruled that the separate educational facilities were not equal

Engel v. Vitale

1962

Ruled that prayers in public schools were unconstitutional

Baker v. Carr

1962

Required state legislatures to apportion electoral districts so that all citizens votes would have equal weight

Escobedo v. Illinois

1964

Ruled that a defendant must be allowed access to a lawyer before questioning by police.

Miranda v. Arizona

1966

Confirmed the obligation of authorities to inform a criminal suspect of his or her rights

Roe v. Wade

1973

The court legalized abortion by ruling that state laws could not restrict it during the first three months of pregnancy. Based on 4th Amendment rights of a person to be secure in their persons.

Bakke v. Regents of the University of California

1978

Ambiguous ruling by a badly divided court that dealt with affirmative action programs that used race as a basis of selecting participants. The court general upheld affirmative action, but with a 4/4/1 split, it was a very weak decision.

Webster v. Reproductive Health Services

1989

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

Bush v. Gore

2000

The court ruled that manual recounts of presidential ballots in the Nov. 2000 election could not proceed because inconsistent evaluation standards in different counties violated the equal protection clause. In effect, the ruling meant Bush would win the election.