U.S. Supreme Court Cases


Obergefell v. Hodges (2015): Ruled that marriage is a fundamental right protected by the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th amendment, requiring all states to license same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages that occurred out-of-state.

Shelby County v. Holder(2013): Held unconstitutional a portion of the Voting Rights Act that required certain historically discriminatory state and local governments to gain federal approval before making any changes to voting laws and procedures, stating the formula for determining which states had to meet such requirements was outdated and punished past instead of assuring voting equality in the future.

Bush v. Gore (2000): In an extremely close election, ruled that a recount of the votes in Florida would be unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, effectively making George W. Bush President of the United States.

Parents Involved In Community Schools vs. Seattle School District (2007): Ruled school districts cannot use race as a sole factor for putting students into schools to create diversity and desegregation. Using race to discriminate or desegregate is unconstitutional absent a compelling state interest and methods which are narrowly tailored to achieve that interest.

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003): An affirmative action admissions policy at the University of Michigan was constitutional because the law school had a compelling interest in promoting class diversity, and the policy used race as only one of many factors to evaluate an applicant

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003): Public universities could not use race as a sole or contributing factor for admitting minorities in order to increase student diversity. Though diversity was a compelling government interest, the admissions policy of awarding points to applicants solely based on race was not narrowly tailored enough to achieve that interest.

City of Richmond v. J.A.Croson Co. (1989): Awarding municipal contracts in part on the basis of race to balance equality was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause because the city failed to demonstrate a compelling interest for the need of a discriminatory  remedy  to fix inequality, and could not show that a race-neutral method would not correct the problem.

McClesky v. Kemp (1987): Using the reasoning in Davis, ruled that a discriminatory impact and discriminatory purpose of a death penalty sentence must be proven in order for the sentencing to violate Federal law.

Wygnant v. Jackson Board of Education (1986): A school board's layoff provision including an affirmative action plan benefiting minorities was unconstitutional under the Equal protection Clause

Washington v. Davis (1976): Limited equal protection laws of Federal law and the Constitution by stating discriminatory impact and discriminatory purpose of a law must be proven in order for the law to violate Federal law--the discriminatory impact of a law alone does not render it unconstitutional. 

NY Times v. Sullivan (1964): Held that a public official could not sue a publication for libel unless the public official could prove the publication knew the information being published was false or acted with reckless disregard as to its accuracy.

Brown v. Board of Education (1954): Overruled Plessy and the "seperate but equal" doctrine, holding that racial segregation in public schools was unconstitutional. Paved  the way to hold other public forms of segregation unconstitutional as well. 

Korematsu v. United States (1944): Held that internment of 110,000 Japanese Americans during World War II was constitutional.

Gong Lum v. RIce (1927): Expanded the reasoning in the cases Cumming and Plessy to rule that a white-only school could exclude a Chinese-American from attending, even though no other educational opportunities existed for the Chinese-American student in that district.

Schenck v. United States (1919): Held that certain forms of speech could result in criminal conviction if such speech presented a "clear and present danger" to the interests of the nation during wartime.

Berea College v. Kentucky (1908): Increased state government power without federal interference and further gutted the meaning of the 14th amendment by ruling that state governments could enforce segregation laws on private schools chartered as corporations

Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education (1899): Expanded the "separate but equal" doctrine established in Plessy v. Ferguson by holding local governments had great discretion in allocating funding for education and could fund white-only high schools without providing a public high school for black people, stating the Federal government should only interfere if there was an unmistakable violation of constitutional rights.

 Plessy v. Ferguson (1896): Upheld a state law segregating black people from white people in railway carts by stating such segregation laws were "separate but equal," paving the way for states to  continue executing segregation laws, as well as add new ones for over 50 more years.

Minor v. Happersett (1875):  Used the same reasoning in the Slaughter-House Cases to uphold a state law denying women the right to vote by holding the 14th Amendment was only intended to protect former slaves and that the right to vote was not a constitutional right (or privilege) under the Privileges and Immunities Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The Slaughter-House Cases (1873): Narrowly construed the recently enacted 14th Amendment as solely for the the purpose of protecting former slaves from discrimination, nothing more, and not intended as a way for the federal government to police state laws.

Dredd Scott v. Sandford (1857): Widely considered the worst and most racist Supreme Court decision of all time, held that slaves were property not citizens, and because they were not citizens, had no standing to sue in federal court (i.e. the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case) Additionally, declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitutional, effectively holding that Congress could not grant citizenship to slaves or their descendants.

Prigg v. Pennsylvania (1842): Broadly protected slaveowners' property rights over their slaves by holding unconstitutional a state law that protected slaves from being recaptured by violence or force.

Marbury v. Madison (1803): Established judicial review, or the court's duty to "say what the law is."

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