Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

School Segregation, Equal Protection

In Topeka, Kansas in the 1950s, schools were segregated by race. Each day, Linda Brown and her sister had to walk through a dangerous railroad switchyard to get to the bus stop for the ride to their all-black elementary school. There was a school closer to the Brown's house, but it was only for white students. Linda Brown and her family believed that the segregated school system violated the 14th Amendment and took their case to court. Federal district court decided that segregation in public education was harmful to black...




Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)

Slavery, Due Process, the Missouri Compromise

In 1834, slave Dred Scott was purchased in Missouri and then brought to Illinois, a free (non-slave) state. His owner and he later moved to present-day Minnesota where slavery had been recently prohibited, and then back to Missouri. When his owner died, Scott sued the widow to whom he was left, claiming he was no longer a slave because he had become free after living in a free state. At a time when the country was in deep conflict over slavery, the Supreme Court decided that Dred Scott was not...




Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

States Rights, Commerce Clause

In 1808, the government of New York granted a steamboat company a monopoly to operate its boats on the state's waters, which included bodies of water that stretched between states. Aaron Ogden held a license under this monopoly to operate steamboats between New Jersey and New York. Thomas Gibbons, another steamboat operator, competed with Aaron Ogden on this same route but held a federal coasting license issued by an act of Congress. Ogden filed a complaint in New York court to stop Gibbons from operating his boats, claiming that the...




Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Right to Counsel, Due Process

In June 1961, a burglary occurred at the Bay Harbor Pool Room in Panama City, FL.  Police arrested Clarence Earl Gideon after he was found nearby with a pint of wine and some change in his pockets. Gideon, who could not afford a lawyer, asked a Florida Circuit Court judge to appoint one for him arguing that the Sixth Amendment entitles everyone to a lawyer. The judge denied his request and Gideon was left to represent himself. He did a poor job of defending himself and was found guilty of...




Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier (1988)

Censorship, Student Press Rights

Hazelwood East High School Principal Robert Reynolds procedurally reviewed the Spectrum, the school’s student-written newspaper, before publication. In May 1983, he decided to have certain pages pulled because of the sensitive content in two of the articles, and acted quickly to remove them in order to meet the paper’s publication deadline. The journalism students felt that this censorship was a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. The Supreme Court decided that Principal Reynolds had the right to such editorial decisions, as he had “legitimate pedagogical concerns.”




Korematsu v. United States (1944)

Japanese Internment, Equal Protection

After Pearl Harbor was bombed in December 1941, the military feared a Japanese attack on the U.S. mainland and the American government was worried that Americans of Japanese descent might aid the enemy.  In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order forcing many West Coast Japanese and Japanese Americans into internment camps.  Fred Korematsu, a Japanese American, relocated and claimed to be Mexican-American to avoid being interned, but was later arrested and convicted of violating an executive order. Korematsu challenged his conviction in the courts saying that Congress, the President, and the...




Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

Exclusionary Rule, Due Process

Suspicious that Dollree Mapp might be hiding a person suspected in a bombing, the police went to her home in Cleveland, Ohio. They knocked on her door and demanded entrance, but Mapp refused to let them in because they did not have a warrant. After observing her house for several hours, the police forced their way into Mapp's house, holding up a piece of paper when Mapp demanded to see their search warrant. As a result of their search, the police found a trunk containing pornographic materials. They arrested Mapp...




Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Judicial Review, Federalism

At the end of President John Adams’ term, his Secretary of State failed to deliver documents commissioning William Marbury as Justice of the Peace in the District of Columbia. Once President Thomas Jefferson was sworn in, in order to keep members of the opposing political party from taking office, he told James Madison, his Secretary of State, to not deliver the documents to Marbury. Marbury then sued James Madison asking the Supreme Court to issue a writ requiring him to deliver the documents necessary to officially make Marbury...




McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

State Taxes, National Supremacy

The U.S. government created the first national bank for the country in 1791, a time during which a national bank was controversial due to competition, corruption, and the perception that the federal government was becoming too powerful. Maryland attempted to close the Baltimore branch of the national bank by passing a law that forced all banks that were created outside of the state to pay a yearly tax. James McCulloch, a branch employee, refused to pay the tax. The State of Maryland sued McCulloch saying that Maryland had the power...




Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Self-Incrimination, Due Process

Ernesto Miranda was arrested after a crime victim identified him, but police officers questioning him did not inform him of his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, or of his Sixth Amendment right to the assistance of an attorney. While he confessed to the crime, his attorney later argued that his confession should have been excluded from trial. The Supreme Court agreed, deciding that the police had not taken proper steps to inform Miranda of his rights.


12
Page size:
select