Court ruled that a city ordinance prohibiting ritual animal sacrifices violated the free exercise clause.
Expression Trial of John Peter Zenger (1735)
This early American case established an important right of the freedom of press as well as the importance of the jury as a check on arbitrary government power.
Ex parte Milligan (1866)
Court ruled that martial law cannot exist where the civil courts are operating.
Shenck v. United States (1919)
Court ruled that speech can be limited if it is “of such nature as to create a clear and present danger that will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has a right to prevent.” Also, utterances tolerable in peacetime can be punished.
Gitlow v. New York (1925)
The Court upheld the conviction and concluded New York’s Criminal Anarchy law was constitutional. Rationale of the majority is sometimes called the “dangerous tendency” test.
Roth v. United States (1957)
Court ruled that obscenity was not “within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press.”
Bradenburg v. Ohio (1969)
Court rules against constitutionality of Ohio’s criminal syndicalism law, stating that speech can only be prohibited if it is (1) "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action" and it is (2) "likely to incite or produce such action."
Madsen v. Women’s Health Center (1994)
Court ruled that a 36 ft. buffer zone in the front of abortion clinics was not an infringement upon free speech, but the barring of protesters from approaching patients within a 300 ft radius was.
New Jersey’s city ordinance that forbid gatherings of groups that advocated obstruction of the government by unlawful means was ruled in violation of the right to assembly.
NAACP v. Alabama (1958)
Court ruled that Alabama’s requirement for NAACP members to reveal names and addresses to State’s Attorney General was in violation of the 14th Amendment. Disclosure of such lists would have the effect of suppressing legal association among the group’s members.
Barenblatt v. United States (1959)
Court ruled that the First Amendment does not protect a witness from all lines of questioning, as long as the Congressional inquiry is pursued to “aid the legislative process” and to protect important government interests.
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District (1969)
Prohibiting students from wearing of armbands in public school as a form of symbolic protest was ruled in violation of free speech.
Protection Against Unreasonable Search & Seizure Weeks v. United States (1914)
Court ruled that the warrantless search and seizure of Week’s home violated the Fourth Amendment. Eventually became known as “exclusionary rule.”
Mapp v. Ohio (1961)
This historic and controversial decision places the requirement of excluding illegally obtained evidence from court at all levels of the government.
Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
Court ruled that the police practice of interrogating individuals without notifying them of their right to counsel and their protection against self-incrimination violated the 5th Amendment.
Katz v. United States (1967)
Court ruled that the warrantless wiretapping of a public payphone was in violating of the 4th Amendment’s protections against unreasonable searches and seizures.
New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)
Principal’s search of a 14-year-old girl accused of smoking did not violate the 4th and 14th amendments. As opposed to “probable cause,” court used less strict standard of “reasonableness” to conclude constitutionality of search.
As a result of this case, states were required to provide attorneys for poor criminals charged with serious crimes.
Coker v. Georgia (1977)
Court ruled that imposition of the death penalty for the crime of rape was “grossly disproportionate” punishment for the crime and was a form of cruel and unusual punishment forbidden by the 8th Amendment.
Roper v. Simmons (2005)
Court ruled that the execution of minors violated the prohibition of “cruel and unusual punishment.”
Court ruled that the 2nd Amendment does not protect the right to possess a sawed-off double barrel shotgun since it does not have a reasonable relationship to the preservation or efficiency of a well-regulated militia.