Midnight appointment

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Marbury vs Madison (1803)

FACTS: William Marbury, a Federalist, had received a “midnight appointment” as a justice of the peace from President John Adams upon Adams leaving office. The new Republican President, Thomas Jefferson, instructed his Secretary of State, James Madison, not to deliver the commission. When he did not receive his signed commission, Marbury asked the Supreme Court to issue a writ of mandamus directing Madison to deliver the commission.
ISSUE: Does Mr. Marbury get his job?…But since Chief Justice John didn’t like this question,, he insisted to chose a different question – Who is the final arbiter and interpreter of the American Constitution?
HOLDING: The Supreme Court found that Congress, through its passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789, had granted an unconstitutional jurisdiction to the Supreme Court. The Court therefore refused to issue a writ of mandamus and, therefore, Marbury could not receive his commission.
RATIONALE: The Constitution gives the Supreme Court both original and appellate jurisdiction. However the Constitution lists the instances in which the Supreme Court has original, or first, jurisdiction. All other issues come before the Supreme Court on appeals from lower courts. Although the Judiciary Act of 1789 gave the Supreme Court the right to issue writs of mandamus, this constituted an unconstitutional grant of power since it gave the Supreme Court a new case of original jurisdiction. There, the Supreme Court declared that portion of the Judiciary Act of 1789 unconstitutional and announced it had to authority to give Marbury a writ of mandamus.
SIGNIFICANCE: Although the Supreme Court, which had a Federal majority, denied Marbury, also a Federalist, his commission, the Court established a far more important principle. Prior to Marbury, the Supreme Court had been the weakest of the three branches of government. By setting a precedent for judicial review, the Supreme Court established its role as final arbiter of the meaning of the Constitution and its position of equality with other branches of government In effect, what the Court did was establish the political theory of judicial review from Anglo-American heritage to become the functional power of the Supreme Court on an incontestable basis. In this sense, Thomas Jefferson was the major loser, even though he got to appoint the replacement judge instead of William Marbury.
Fletcher vs Peck (1810)

FACTS: Influenced by bribes, the Georgia state legislature sold public land to speculators. The outraged public elected a new legislature at the very next election. This new, more honest legislature rescinded the previous sales. A purchaser who had bought land in good faith brought suit over the recission of his land purchase.

ISSUE: May a state legislature impair the right of Contract? Can SC declare a law of a state unconstitutional?

HOLDING: The federal government, through the Supreme Court, had a constitutional duty to uphold and protect the right of contract – State law to the contrary was null and void.

RATIONALE: Georgia legislature could not interfere with a lawfully executed contract, no matter how the original landholders had obtained title.

SIGNIFICANCE: Fletcher vs Peck, was the first Supreme Court decision to declare a state law unconstitutional, thus further strengthening the national government as superior over the states.

McCulloch vs Maryland (1819)
FACTS: Since the establishment of the Bank of the Uniteds States in 1781, Anti-Federalist (Republicans) had argued that a national bank was unconstitutional. Federalist advocates of a strong national government had used the “necessary and proper” or “elastic clause” to justify creation of the Bank. According to the preamble of the Bank charter, the Bank would aid the government in getting emergency loans, serve as depository for tax funds, and produce advantages for trade and industry. When the cashier of the Bank of United States in Maryland reused to pay a state tax on the Bank, Maryland brought suit against him Maryland won a judgment against the Bank…in a Maryland Court, but McCulloch, the federally employed cashier, appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States.

ISSUE: May a state tax a federal establishment?

DECISION: John Marshall, in writing the majority of the Supreme Court, overturned the lower court’s decision and declared the Maryland tax “null and void,” thereby upholding not included the supremacy clause of the Constitution, but the Federal “Implied powers” were also upheld constitutionally supreme.

RATIONALE: The Court ruled that the Federal government has the authority to do what is necessary and proper to carry out the enumerated powers of Congress, and that included establishing the Bank of the United States. According to John Marshall, “The power to tax is the power to destroy.” A state cannot take any action that will destroy an agency properly established by the Federal government. Therefore, Maryland could not tax the Maryland branch of the Bank of the United States, nor could it pass laws contrary to federal law.

SIGNIFICANCE: The decision sanctioned the federal government’s use of implied powers, established the supremacy of the national government over the states, and paved the way for vast expansions of federal power in the future through a broad definition of “implied powers”
Dartmouth College vs Woodward (1819)

FACTS: Dartmouth College had been chartered in 1769 as a private school in New Hampshire. The school had a self-perpetuating Board of Trustees. When the second president of the college alienated students, townspeople and some of the trustees, Republican members of the Board sought to have the State Legislature convert the school to a state university and add a state-appointed board of overseers with control over instruction and the hiring of faculty members. The Federalist trustees sued William H. Woodward, secretary-treasurer of the new state-created governing board, to recover college records, books, and the school’s seal. Federalist members of the Board of Trustees argued that the school’s charter was a contract and that the Federal Constitution forbade states from impairing the obligations of contracts. When the Republican-dominated State court said that the state had the right to alter the school’s charter, the Federalist asked Dartmouth graduate Daniel Webster to appeal their case before the Supreme Court.

HOLDING: The Supreme Court overturned the decision of the state court and upheld the sanctity of contracts under the Constitution.

RATIONALE: The charter granted to the trustees by the colonial government of New Hampshire was a valid contract that came within the meaning of Art. I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. Therefore, the state had no right to impair the obligations of the contract without the consent of both the state and the college.

SIGNIFICANCE: The decision upheld the sanctity of contracts and of private property. This decision was important in assuring economic development and encouraging investment in new corporations. In addition, it set a precedent for the Supreme Court o overturn acts of state legislatures

Gibbons vs Ogden (1824)

FACTS: In order to encourage the development of the steamboat, New York had granted Robert Fulton a long-term monopoly of steam navigation on the waters of the state. Previously Congress had required all vessels navigating coastal and inter-state waters of the United States to obtain federal coastal licenses. In this case Gibbons sued Ogden who, as a licensee of Fulton, had been granted a monopoly by the state of New York

ISSUE: Can a state grant commercial rights that conflict with federal law?

HOLDING: Marshall’s Supreme Court ruled that the monopoly granted Ogden by the State of New York was unconstitutional since the national government’s power to regulate commerce is supreme over conflicting state grants or laws.

RATIONALE: Article I, Section III of the Constitution grants regulation of interstate commerce to Congress. Congress had exercised those powers in the Federal Coasting Act. When the New York act created a monopoly it had passed a law which conflicted with the Federal act and with the Constitution of the United States. The monopoly was therefore unconstitutional and, as a result, void as law.

SIGNIFICANCE: The power to regulate interstate commerce rests with the Federal government. The Court’s decision in Gibbons vs Ogden secures the concept of a national common market and prevents states from impeding commerce within that market and further supported the Supremacy doctrine of the federal government.

Cherokee Nation vs Georgia (1831)

FACTS: John Ross, Chief of the Cherokee Nation, filed suit in the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to prevent the State of Georgia from imposing certain state laws on the Cherokee Nation reservation. The suit was filed after the State of Georgia convicted a Cherokee, George Tassel, for a murder committed on the Cherokee reservation. The State of Georgia refused to appear and subsequently executed George Tassel. The Cherokee Nation sought review with the Supreme Court to impose an injunction on the State of Georgia prohibiting implementation of certain laws of that state on the Cherokee Nation reservation.

ISSUE: Does the Cherokee Nation constitute a foreign nation for the purposes of Article III?

HOLDING: The Supreme Court held that the Cherokee Nation was not a foreign nation, rather a “domestic dependent nation”, the subject to the sovereignty of the United States federal government. Since the tribe was neither a “state” nor a “foreign nation” , the Supreme Court held that the motion for an injunction was not a matter of original jurisdiction and refused to grant the injunction.

RATIONALE: With the Commerce Clause, the Founding Fathers had empowered Congress to “regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes.” The Supreme Court was authorized to hear only matters of “original jurisdiction”, that is, matters expressly provided for in the Constitution.

Worcester vs Georgia, (1832)

FACTS: Gold was discovered on Cherokee lands in north Georgia in 1828. To more easily exploit that find and to exclude the entrance of parties sympathetic to the Cherokee cause, the State of Georgia attempted to force whites to register and pledge allegiance to Georgia law before entry onto the reservation. Samuel Worcester, a missionary minister, refused to register or pledge his allegiance. The State of Georgia brought criminal charges against him. Worcester was found guilty and sentenced to four years in prison. Worcester then appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

ISSUE: Does state law prevails over tribal law within tribal boundaries? “We must inquire and decide whether the act of the Legislature of Georgia under which the plaintiff in error has been persecuted and condemned, be consisted with, or repugnant to the Constitution, law and treaties of the United States.”

HOLDING: Indian tribes, as separate nations, have defined territorial boundaries within which state law is inoperative and ordered. Worcester’s charges were dismissed.

RATIONALE: Chief Justice John Marshall held that state laws interfering with relations established between the United States and the Cherokee Nation are invalid and the power to regulate such relations lies exclusively with the federal government.

SIGNIFICANCE: Although the U.S. Supreme Court determined it lacked jurisdiction to hear the merits of the case, the significance of the case is it’s analysis of the effect of treaties upon the status of the Cherokees and other Indian nations. John Marshall has made his decision; Now let him enforce it.”

Forced removal proceeded at the cost of more than one quarter of the Cherokee population in the “Trail of Tears.” Robert V. Remini, Jackson scholar has argued that in the end, Marshall and Jackson’s actions “saved the Cherokees from extinction.”

Ex Parte Milligan

71 US 2 (1866). Argued 5-13 March 1866


In late 1864, United States army officials in Indiana arrested Lambdin P. Milligan and several other prominent antiwar Democrats, charging them with conspiracy to seize munitions at federal arsenals and to liberate Confederate prisoners held in several northern prison camps. Indiana was not in the theater of military operations, and the defendants could have been tried in federal court for treason. Nevertheless, army officials doubted the reliability of Indiana juries and elected to try the defendants by military commission.


Can civilians be tried in military courts during wartime under the Constitution? The military court (tribunal) found Milligan and two co-defendants guilty and sentenced them to hang. Milligan appealed to the Supreme Court.


By a vote of 9-0 in favor of Milligan and over-turned the convictions. Judge David Davis emphasized that the Constitution was NOT suspended in time of emergency, eloquently noting that it was “a law for rulers and people, equally in time of war and peace.

The court held that the military trial of civilians…violated the constitutional guarantee of “grand jury and public trial by impartial jury. The Court opinion was controversial. In the 20th century, many commentators and scholars have viewed Milligan as a landmark case

Charles River Bridge vs Warren Bridge

Court Decision

11 Pet 36 US 420 (1837).

FACTS: Proprietors sought an injunction to halt construction of the new bridge, asserting that Warren Bridge charter violated Mass constitutional guarantee of “life, liberty, and property” and contract clause of the Constitution. It was later reargued by court dominated by Democratic appointees.
ISSUE: Does Warren Bridge effectively destroy their [Charles River Bridge’s] exclusive property in tolls, which was the essence of the original grant. Hence a breech of contract and violation of commerce clause.
HOLDING: Vote of the court was 4 to 3 ...The charter of 1785 to proprietors of the Charles River bridge…confers on them the ordinary faculties of a corporation, for the purpose of building a bridge; and establishes certain rates of toll, which the company are authorized to take…There is no exclusive privilege given to them over the waters of the Charles River, above or below their bridge; no right to erect another bridge themselves, nor to prevent other persons from erecting one; no engagement from the state, that another should not be erected; and no undertaking not to sanction competition, nor to make improvements that may diminish the amount of its income. The grant to the Warren Bridge was within the legislature’s authority.

Taney, a recent democratic appointee, held that the legislature held the sovereign power of the people. Taney reasoned that the legislative grants be construed narrowly to protect public interest.


The decision of the majority recognized that demand for improved technologies would lead to their rapid adoption. Taney fashioned his opinion to justify “creative destruction of old property in order that new ventures might prosper.” Justice Story in dissent insisted that, “If the government means to invite its citizens to enlarge the public comforts and conveniences…there must be some pledge that property will be safe…and that success will not be the signal of a general combination to overthrow its rights, and to take away its profits.” (p.608)

Brown vs Board of Education-Topeka, KS

347 U.S. 483 [1954]

May 31, 1955

Brown v. Board of Education was not the first challenge to school segregation. As early as 1849, African Americans filed suit against an educational system that mandated racial segregation, in the case of Roberts v. City of Boston.

Oliver Brown, the case namesake, was just one of the nearly 200 plaintiffs from five states who were part of the NAACP cases brought before the Supreme Court in 1951. The Kansas case was named for Oliver Brown as a legal strategy to have a man head the plaintiff roster


For Kansas this would become the 12th case filed in the state focused on ending segregation in public schools. The local NAACP assembled a group of 13 parents who agreed to be plaintiffs on behalf of their 20 children. Topeka operated eighteen neighborhood schools for white children, while African American children had access to only four schools. In February of 1951 the Topeka NAACP filed a case on their behalf. Although this was a class action it was named for one of the plaintiffs Oliver Brown. These schools were separate and unequal.


“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Chief Justice Earl Warren for 9-0 Court Opinion


A society that is separate is inherently unequal. There must be integrated schools accessible to all.


“Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

Roe vs Wade

410 U.S. 113

January 22, 1973

“The case originated in Texas in March 1970 at the behest of young attorneys Linda Coffee and Sarah Weddington. Coffee and Weddington filed suit on behalf of Norma L. McCorvey ("Jane Roe") who claimed her pregnancy was the result of rape. McCorvey now says that she was lying, although at one point she went so far as to give a detailed account of her rape. Her alleged rape was not mentioned or used in the arguments for Roe v. Wade, because the attorneys had determined McCorvey's claims to be questionable.”


“Does a woman have the right to decide to terminate a pregnancy and/or does a state have a right to deny that action. Roe established that abortion, under the United States Constitution, is a fundamental right, thereby subjecting all laws attempting to restrict it to the standard of strict scrutiny. Though abortion technically remains to this day a fundamental right, subsequent cases, notably Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey and Stenberg v. Carhart, have modified the legal standard significantly”


“Without finding a historical basis for the laws, the Court identified three justifications in Section VII of the opinion to explain the criminalization of abortion: (1) women who can receive an abortion are more likely to engage in "illicit sexual conduct", (2) the medical procedure was extremely risky prior to the development of antibiotics and, even with modern medical techniques, is still risky in late stages of pregnancy, and (3) the state has an interest in protecting prenatal life. As to the first, "no court or commentator has taken the argument seriously" and the statute failed to "distinguish between married and unwed mothers." However, according to the Court, the second and third constitute valid state interests. In Section X, the Court reiterated, "[T]he State does have an important and legitimate interest in preserving and protecting the health of the pregnant woman ... and that it has still another important and legitimate interest in protecting the potentiality of human life.”


Valid state interests, however, must be weighed against the constitutionally protected rights of individuals in order to determine whether a law is a constitutional exercise of power. Even though the "Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy" the court found support for a constitutional right of privacy in the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, Ninth Amendment, Fourteenth Amendment, and the penumbra of the Bill of Rights. The court found "this right of privacy" to be "broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy."


Support for Roe comes from those who view the decision as necessary to preserve women’s equality and personal freedom, and those who believe in the primacy of individual overall collective rights. Based upon the 35 year history since Roe, [who by the way has turned agains the decision herself] led John Roberts, nominee for the office of Chief Justice of the United States to declare that it was “settled law.”

Relying on the current state of medical knowledge, the decision established a system of trimesters that attempted to balance the state's legitimate interests with the individual's constitutional rights. The Court ruled that the state cannot restrict a woman's right to an abortion during the first trimester, the state can regulate the abortion procedure during the second trimester "in ways that are reasonably related to maternal health," and in the third trimester, demarcating the viability of the fetus, a state can choose to restrict or even to proscribe abortion as it sees fit.

Schenck vs United States

249 U.S. 47 [1917]

BACKGROUND: Charles Schenck, a Socialist, circulated a flyer to recently drafted men. The flyer, which cited the 13th Amendment’s provision against “involuntary servitude,” exhorted the men to “assert [their] opposition to the draft.” The flyer described it as a moral wrong and was drive by the capitalist system. The circulars proposed peaceful resistance, such petition to repeal the Conscription Act. Schenk was charged with conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act of 1917…to obstruct recruitment.

Did the arrest and curtailment of Schenk’s speech violate the 1st Amendment—even though in wartime?

HOLDING: Defendants’ criticism of the draft was not protected by the First Amendment, because it created a clear and present danger to the enlistment and recruiting practices of the U.S. Armed Forces during a state of war.

By a vote of 9-0 Justice Holmes set for the “clear and present danger.” The question in every case is “whether the words used are in such circumstances and are of such a nature as to create a clear and present danger that they will bring about the substantive evils that Congress has right to prevent.”

SIGNIFICANCE: There are constitutional times when free speech is relative. Justice Holmes view was that “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man from falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” As a result of 9-0 Charles Schenck spent six months in prison. The requirement to establish “clear and present danger” test was set.


Gitlow vs New York “Dangerous Tendency Doctrine”

Dennis vs. United States “Gravity of the Evil Doctrine”
Griswold vs Connecticut

381 U.S. 479

June 7, 1965


Estelle T. Griswold and C. Lee Buxton were convicted of violating a Connecticut State law that forbade and prohibited the use of contraceptives. The tried and convicted. With the Sixth Circuit Court affirming the conviction.


Does a state have a right to prohibit the confidential practices of maintaining privacy by consenting adults in intimate relations.

Justice Black argued that there is NO RIGHT TO PRIVACY IN THE CONSTITUTION.

A Connecticut law criminalizing the use of contraceptives violated the right to privacy the Connecticut Supreme Court was reversed.


In a 7-2 ruling , Justice Douglas ruled “that the right was to be found ‘penumbras’ of other constitutional protections. Justice Harlan wrote in a concurring opinion “that privacy is protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Justice White also wrote a concurring opinion citing the 14th Amendment.


This case in the eyes of many constitutional scholars put the issue of “privacy” a firm, irremovable implied right of the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution. And in the hearings for confirmation of John Roberts, this fact was also accepted as “settled law”. This puts the current Chief Justice of the Court in line with the acceptance of the right to privacy. The Griswold case remains controversial and has drawn “judicial activism” But according to constitutional scholar Andrew Tulumello for those Americans under age of 30 it is beyond challenge.

Dred Scott vs Sanford

19 Howard 393 [1857]

Dred Scott a black slave of Dr. John Emerson who took him from Missouri to Illinois (a free state) and later, Wisconsin Scott remained in free soil from 1834-1838. In 1846 sued for his freedom & liberty in the Missouri Courts. Lower court ruled in favor of Scott, but the Missouri Supreme Court overruled. At the time of the appeal to the US Supreme Court he was “nominal property” John F.A. Sanford of New York.


1) Whether Scott was a citizen of Missouri and thus entitled to sue in the federal courts.

2) whether his temporary stay in free soil had given him his freedom,

3) was the Missouri Compromise of 1820, whos prohibition of slavery applied to Wisconsin Territory.


Each Justice handed down a separate opinion. But the opinion of Chief Justice Roger Taney is cited for the majority to the effect that: “Scott [and all black slaves or their descendants was NOT a citizen of the U.S. nor Missouri and thus was not entitled to sue in federal courts Secondly, Scotts temporary time in free territory had not made him free. Secondly, the Missouri Compromise was declared unconstitutional, depriving persons of their property with due process of law.


The decision was 6-3. The dissenting opinions came from John McLean and Benjamin R. Curtis were responsible for introducing the Missouri Compromise issue into the equation. Northerners denounced the decision as a “conspiracy”. This is the first time since Marbury vs Madison, that a federal law had been declared unconstitutional.


The historical outcome of this decision upheld slavery as a constitutional right of property and without due process there was federal right to free blacks. The case clearly hurled the nation, already in a blundering state of affairs, into a full head on collision between the North and the South in a violent Civil War.

Gideon vs Wainwright

372 U.S. 643 [1963]


Clarence Earl Gideon was arrested in Panama City, Florida on a misdemeanor charge and tried and convicted because he was forced under Florida law to be his own attorney and Florida did not provide legal counsel for non-felony cases. Gideon was convicted and sentenced to prison. Whereupon he petitioned the Supreme Court in a crude pencil and paper appeal. The Supreme Court choose to hear the petition of the defendant.


Does a defendant in a criminal court of law, have the right to legal counsel no matter that it be a felony or misdemeanor case.


The Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren set forth the rule that all criminal defendants were entitled to counsel in a court of law. They remanded the Gideon case back to Florida courts for a retrial. The vote for Gideon was 6-3.


Gideon didn’t understand why this was not “double jeopardy”. The court said that he had not had a “fair trial” and he was entitled to one. So a local attorney who new Gideon was appointed and the trial ended in the climatic result of victory for the right of legal counsel to be given to every defendant no matter right or poor, black or white, male or female. The Supreme Court had in effect “legislated” the right to legal counsel for misdemeanor offices.


Every since 1963 poor indigent defendants now have the right to legal counsel in all criminal matters misdemeanor as well as felony charges against them. If the can’t pay for an attorney, one will be provided at the public expense to defend the person accused. “No one will ever go to prison again without a fair trial” claimed one of the Associate Justices who was in the majority.

Miranda vs Arizona

384 U.S. 436 [1966]


  • Ernesto Arthur Miranda was arrest in downtown Phoenix on charges of robbery, rape, & kidnapping.

  • He was interrogated by police and convicted in AZ courts.

  • Miranda’s lawyer appealed to AZ Supreme Court and conviction upheld

  • Miranda apparently was told if he confessed he could get off lighter

  • There was on the Warren Court a spirit for legal aid movement.


  • Miranda case foreshadowed by the Escobedo v Illinois case (1964)

  • Does a defendant have the right to legal counsel before indictment and does confession affect the proceedings in the trial at court?

  • At what point must the police notify a defendant of his rights


  • The Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination requires law enforcement officials to advise a suspect interrogated in custody of his rights to remain silent and to obtain an attorney. Arizona court was reversed and remanded. The decision was a 5-4 split with Warren, Black, Douglas, Brennan, Fortas in the majority.


  • “The person in custody must prior to interrogation be clearly informed that he has a right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be held against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has a right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.

  • If the individual indicates in any manner, at any time prior or during questioning, that he wishes to remain silent, the interrogation must cease… If the individual states that he wants an attorney, the interrogation must cease until an attorney is present. At that time, the individual must have the opportunity to confer with the attorney, and to have the attorney present during any subsequent questioning.”


This is the crime that changed American justice and criminal procedure Miranda was retried, convicted, and served 11 years. Police departments were required to use “the Miranda Card Questions” before any interrogation took place. Miranda grew to be familiar and widely accepted. TV crime shows have now made it common place and common knowledge in the arrest procedure.

These are in no particular order just as I recall them—largely in alphabetical order:
Abington Schools vs Schempp

Abrams vs US

Adderly vs Florida

Afroyim vs Rusk

Alberts vs California

Amistad vs US

Ashwander vs TVA ** (1)

Bailey vs Drexel Furniture

Baltimore & Ohio v US

Baker vs Carr ** (2)

Barron vs Baltimore

Berger vs New York

Betts vs Brady

Brown vs Board of Education ** (3)

Brown vs Texas

Cherokee Nation vs Georgia

Chimel vs California

Chisholm vs Georgia

Cohen vs Virginia

Commonwealth vs Hunt

Cooper vs Aaron

Dartmouth College vs Woodward ** (4)

In RE Debs

Dennis vs US

E.C. Knight vs US ** (5)

Elfbrandt vs Russell

Escobedo vs Illinois

Fletcher vs Peck ** (6)

Furman vs Georgia

In RE Gault

Gitlow vs New York

Gregg vs Georgia

Griswold vs Connecticut ** (7)

Hardwick vs Bowers

Korematsu vs US

Lochner vs New York

Marbury vs Madison ** (8)

McCulloch vs Maryland

Ex Parte McCardle

Ex Parte Milligan ** (9)

Ex Parte Merryman

Miller vs California

Minersville vs Gobitas

Miranda vs Arizona ** (10)

Muller vs Oregon

Munn vs Illinois

Wabash vs Illinois

Palko vs Connecticut

Prigg vs Pennsylvania

Powell vs Texas

Plessy vs Ferguson

Bakke vs UC Board of Regents ** (11)

Rosenberg vs US

Rochin vs California

Roth vs US

Roe vs Wade ** (12)

Planned Parenthood vs Missouri

Schenck vs US ** (13)

Butler vs US

Schecter Poultry vs US

Scott vs Sanford ** (14)

Seeger vs US

Smith vs Allwright

Terminiello vs Chicago

Terry vs Ohio

Tinker vs Des Moines Schools ** (15)

West Virginia vs Barnette

Wisconsin vs Yoder

Wesberry vs Sanders

Gibbons vs Ogden

Worcester vs Georgia ** (16)

I used to use a 50 point matching exam on Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. There are sure to be others than these cases listed above. They are just the ones I recall.

The sixteen I have numbered are considered “Watershed” cases for American History and American Government! All of these have been used repeatedly on objective questions over the years when I taught and served on Golden State Exam Test Development Committee.
I did not go into the search and seizure cases. I would deem them to be the domain of the individual teacher, school, and community. How much these should come forward depends upon those in local control to decide what should be analyzed in a classroom of teenagers. I also shunned the cases involving the equality of voting rights. Hey, you folks do with this material however you like. It worked for me very well. Likewise, I did not analyze either of the two cases involving teenage rights—In RE Gault and Tinker vs Des Moines Schools
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