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Landmark Case List

QuestionAnswer
Marbury v. Madison; 1803 Judicial Review - Supreme Court Justice Marshall Established the Supreme Court's power to strike down acts of United States Congress that was in conflict with the Constitution.
McCulloch v. Maryland; 1819 Supremacy and Elastic Clauses - Supreme Court Justice Marshall The court stated the doctrine of implied powers. To fulfill its goal, the federal government may use any means the constitution does not forbid State government may in no way hinder the legitimate action of the federal government.
Gibbons v. Ogden; 1824 Commerce Regulation - Supreme Court Justice Marshall The power to regulate interstate navigation is granted to Congress by the Commerce Clause of the Constitution
Taney Scott v. Sandford; 1857 Slaves as Property -Supreme Court Justice Marshall Blacks, whether free or slaves cannot be U.S. citizens. They cannot sue in federal courts. Slavery cannot be outlawed in the western territories before they access statehood. After the Civil War this decision was voided by the 13th & 14th Amendments.
Munn v. Illinois; 1877 Regulation of the Private Sector - Supreme Court Justice Waite allowed states to regulate certain businesses within their borders, including railroads, and is commonly regarded as a milestone in the growth of federal government regulation.
Reynolds v. United States; 1879 Polygamy - Supreme Court Justice Waite held that religious duty was not a suitable defense to a criminal indictment.
Fuller Plessey v. Ferguson; 1897 Segregation - Supreme Court Justice Waite Segregated facilities for blacks and whites are constitutional under the doctrine of separate but equal, which held for close to 60 years
Guinn v. United States; 1915 Grandfather Clauses in Voting - Supreme Court Justice White found grandfather clause exemptions to literacy tests to be unconstitutional.
Schenk v. United States; 1919 Free Speech and National Security - Supreme Court Justice White Established the idea that "clear and present danger" in certain speech is not protected by the First Amendment.
Gitlow v. New York 1925; Freedom of Speech/Incorporation - Supreme Court Justice Taft ruled that the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution had extended the reach of certain provisions of the First Amendment—specifically the provisions protecting freedom of speech and freedom of the press—to the governments of the individual states
Hughes Near v. Minnesota; 1931 Freedom of the Press - Supreme Court Justice Taft Minnesota law that targeted publishers of "malicious" or "scandalous" newspapers violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (as applied through the Fourteenth Amendment).
Smith v. Allwright; 1944 White Primaries - Supreme Court Justice Stone overturned the Democratic Party's use of all-white primaries in Texas, and other states where the party used the rule.
Korematsu v. United States; 1944 Internment During War - Supreme Court Justice Stone American citizens of Japanese descent can be interned and deprived of basic constitutional rights; first application of the strict scrutiny test.
Dennis v. United States; 1951 Free Speech and National Security - Supreme Court Justice Vinson Dennis did not have a right under the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States to exercise free speech, publication and assembly, if that exercise was in furtherance of a conspiracy to overthrow the government.
Youngstown v. Sawyer; 1952 Restrictions on Executive Orders - Supreme Court Justice Vinson the President does not have implicit or explicit executive power under the war powers clause of the U.S. Constitution, or any implied powers gleaned therefrom, to authorize the Secretary of Commerce to seize the nation’s steel mills.
Brown v. Board of Education; 1954 Segregation - Supreme Court Justice Warren segregated schools in the several states are unconstitutional in violation of the 14th Amendment. Found that "The "separate but equal" doctrine adopted in Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537, has no place in the field of public education."
Roth v. United States; 1957 Obscenity - Supreme Court Justice Warren Obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment.
NAACP v. Alabama; 1958 Right to Assembly - Supreme Court Justice Warren ruled that Alabama's demand for the lists had violated the right of due process guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Mapp v. Ohio; 1961 Exclusionary Rule - Supreme Court Justice Warren Evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the United States Constitution is inadmissible in a criminal trial in a state court.
Engel v. Vitale; 1962 School Prayer - Supreme Court Justice Warren Government-directed prayer in public schools, even if it is denominationally neutral and non-mandatory, violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
Baker v. Carr; 1962 Reapportionment - Supreme Court Justice Warren The reapportionment of state legislative districts is not a political question, and is justiciable by the federal courts.
Abington Township v. Schempp; 1963 Religion in Public Schools - Supreme Court Justice Warren the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment forbids state mandated reading of the Bible, or recitation of the Lord's Prayer in public schools.
Gideon v. Wainwright; 1963 Right to Counsel -Supreme Court Justice Warren Anyone charged with a serious criminal offense has the right to an attorney and the state must provide one if they are unable to afford legal counsel.
New York Times v. Sullivan; 1964 Libel and Slander - Supreme Court Justice Warren Public officials, to prove they were libeled, must show not only that a statement is false, but also that it has been published with malicious intent.
Griswold v. Connecticut; 1965 Privacy - Supreme Court Justice Warren Married people are entitled to use contraception and making it a crime to sell to them same is unconstitutional. (A later case, Eisenstadt v. Baird, extended this to unmarried adults.)
Miranda v. Arizona; 1966 Self Incrimination - Supreme Court Justice Warren Police must advise criminal suspects of their rights under the Constitution to remain silent, to consult with a lawyer and to have one appointed if he is an indigent. The interrogation must stop if the suspect states he or she wishes to remain silent.
Harper v. Virginia; 1966 Poll Taxes in State Elections - Supreme Court Justice Warren The U.S. Supreme Court found that Virginias poll tax was unconstitutional under the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. The 24th Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited poll taxes in federal elections; extended to state elections
Lemon v. Kurtzman; 1971 Aid to Religious Schools - Supreme Court Justice Burger To be considered constitutional under the Establishment Clause. The law must have a legitimate secular purpose and must not have the primary effect of either advancing or inhibiting religion and must not result in an entanglement of gov. and religion
Branzburg v. Hayes; 1972 Freedom of the Press and Shield Laws - Supreme Court Justice Burger a reporter may not avoid testifying in a criminal grand jury. It remains the only time the Supreme Court has considered the use of Reporters' Privilege.
Miller v. California; 1973 Obscenity - Supreme Court Justice Burger Government's desire to keep so called "Pentagon Papers" classified is insufficient to overcome 1st Amendment hurdle.
Roe v. Wade; 1973 Abortion - Supreme Court Justice Burger Struck down abortion laws restricting abortion prior to viability as unconstitutional, prohibiting most restrictions in the first trimester and permitting only health-related restrictions in the second trimester.
United States v. Nixon; 1974 Presidential Power - Supreme Court Justice Burger Ruled that the doctrine of executive privilege is legitimate, however the President cannot invoke it in criminal cases to withhold evidence.
Craig v. Boren; 1976 Gender Discrimination - Supreme Court Justice Burger Setting different minimum ages according to sex (female 18, male 21) to be allowed to buy beer is unconstitutional sex-based discrimination, contrary to the equal protection clause.
Gregg v. Georgia; 1976 Capital Punishment - Supreme Court Justice Burger Carefully drafted death penalty statutes may be constitutional. This ruling made executions possible again after Furman v. Georgia had stopped them.
Buckley v. Valeo; 1976 Campaign Spending - Supreme Court Justice Burger pending money to influence elections is a form of constitutionally protected free speech, and struck down portions of the law. The court also ruled candidates can give unlimited amounts of money to their own campaigns.
Massachusetts Board of Retirement v. Murgia; 1976 Age Discrimination - Supreme Court Justice Burger Age classifications are only subject to rational basis review.
Lynch v. Donelly; 1984 Religious Symbols on Public Property - Supreme Court Justice Burger The city of Pawtucket's nativity scene does not violate the Establishment Clause.
Falwell v. Hustler; 1984 Libel and Slander - Supreme Court Justice Burger A public figure shown in a parody must show actual malice to claim he is libeled.
Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson; 1986 Sexual Harassment - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist recognition of certain forms of sexual harassment as a violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, and established the standards for analyzing whether conduct was unlawful and when an employer would be liable.
Bakke v. University of California; 1988 Affirmative Action - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist Race based set asides in educational opportunities violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution. The decision leaves the door open to some race usage in admission decisions. See Grutter v. Bollinger.
Texas v. Johnson; 1989 Symbolic Speech/Flag Burning - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist Law prohibiting burning of the American flag is unconstitutional as violating the 1st Amendment.
Employment Division of Oregon v. Smith; 1990 Religious Practice and Narcotics - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist determined that the state could deny unemployment benefits to a person fired for violating a state prohibition on the use of peyote, even though the use of the drug was part of a religious ritual.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey; 1992 Abortion - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist Placed tighter restrictions on abortion by upholding parts of Pennsylvania's abortion laws. Also reaffirmed the decisions of Roe v. Wade but permitted additional restrictions in the 1st trimester.
Shaw v. Reno; 1993 Minority Majority Districting - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist redistricting based on race must be held to a standard of strict scrutiny under the equal protection clause. On the other hand, bodies doing redistricting must be conscious of race to the extent that they must ensure compliance with the Voting Rights Act.
Romer v. Evans; 1996 Gay and Lesbian Rights - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist Colorado's Amendment 2 was unconstitutional, though on different reasoning than the Colorado courts.
Reno v. ACLU; 1997 Internet Censorship - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist strike down anti indecency provisions of the Communications Decency Act (the CDA), finding they violated the freedom of speech provisions of the 1st Amendment.
United States v. Playboy Entertainment; 2000 Commercial Speech - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist struck down a portion of the Communications Decency Act (CDA) which required that cable television operators who offered channels "primarily dedicated to sexually oriented programming" must scramble completely or fully block such material.
Ashcroft v. Free Speech Coalition; 2002 Child Pornography - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist The Court held that the two above provisions were unconstitutional because they abridged "the freedom to engage in a substantial amount of lawful speech."
Hamdi v. Rumsfeld; 2004 Habeas Corpus and Terrorists - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist U.S. citizens designated as enemy combatants by the Executive Branch have a right to challenge their detainment under the Due Process Clause. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals vacated and remanded.
Roberts McDonlad v. Chicago; 2010 Bans on Handguns - Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist The 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self defense in one's home is fully applicable to the states through the 14th Amendment. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit reversed and remanded.
Created by: erikmurphy