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Major Supreme Court Cases

John Marshall (1801-1835)- basics for court

Marbury V. Madison (1803)- Involved Jefferson and Adam where Adam made
appointment of “midnight judges” before getting out of office. Jeff told Madison not to
accept the appointment and goes to court. Marshall says William Marbury had right to be
appointed from Judiciary Act of 1789 but states that the Act was unconstitutional (gave
courts too much power). Thus Marbury lost the case. Established judicial review-
court can now determine if Congress or the president’s action is constitutional. First
federal law to be unconstitutional.

Fletcher V. Peck (1810)- Involved Georgia buying Yazoo land through land fraud.
that a state could not pass a legislation invalidating a contract. First state
law to be unconstitutional.
McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)- Maryland attempted to tax Second Bank of the U.S. Using
loose interpretation, Marshall concludes Bank of U.S. has implied powers to
create banks and cannot be taxed since federal institution and laws are
supreme law of the land.

Darthmouth College V. Woodward (1819)- New Hampshire law tried to make Darthmouth a
public institution instead of private. Marshall states law is unconstitutional and
states cannot alter contract with private corporation.

Cohens V. Virginia (1821)- Cohens illegally sold D.C. lottery tickets issued by Congress.
Marshall proves them guilty and Court can now review any state court’s
decision involving the federal gov’t.

Gibbs V. Ogden (1821)- New York tried to establish a monopoly with a steamboat company
even though the company had a charter with Congress. Decided that the monopoly is
unconstitutional and fed gov’t now has broad control over interstate

Cherokee Nation V. Georgia (1831)- Cherokees sue the state over forced migration.
Decided tribe is not a foreign nation with the right to sue in fed court.

Worcester V. Georgia (1832)- Same

as other Cherokee case except Marshall
ruled that the state had no power within Cherokee territory. Ignored by
Jackson though.

Roger B. Taney (1836)-(1864)-slavery

Dredd Scott V. Sanford (1857)- Dredd Scott, a Mississippian slave, goes to Wisconsin, a
free state. States that he is free because he is on free soil and sues Mississippi. Decided
that he is still a slave because,
1. could not even sue fed court since framers of Constitution did not
intend Blacks to be U.S. Citizens.
2. Congress cannot deprive people of their “property”(slaves in this
case) without due process of law thus Congress cannot exclude
slavery from any fed land.
3. Missouri Compromise of 1820 nullified since it allowed Congress to
exclude slavery from Wisconsin and other territories.
Obviously pissed off a lot of Northerners and made Southerners happy.

Charles River Bridge V. Warren Bridge (1837)- Involved rival Co.s over building a bridge in
state. Ruled that granting similar charters to different companies did not
violate the Contract Clause(state cannot make laws hindering contract

Ex Parte Merryman (1861)- Involves same case as Ex Parte Milligan(in Chase) except with
Lincoln. Ruled Lincoln could not suspend habeas corpus.

Salmon P. Chase (1864-1873) - Reconstruction

Ex Parte Milligan (1866)- Lambdin P. Milligan and 4 other confederates tried to steal Union
weapons and use it to raid Union POW camps. Convicted in court to hanging. Decided that
feds could not suspend habeas corpus(person’s right to seek relief from
unlawful punishment) where courts were active.

Morrison Waite (1874-1888)-Gilded Age

Minor V. Happersett (1875)- Involved women’s suffrage and general suffrage. Decided
that voting is not a privilege of citizenship. Another 14th amendment case.

Munn V. Illinois (1876)- Involved corporations and agriculture. Decided that states can
regulate corporations if operating in public interest.

Wabash V. Illinois (1886)- Involved Illinois and Wabash. Ruled

that states control
over interstate commerce severely restricted and led to the development of
Interstate Commerce Commission (regulation).

Melville Weston Fuller (1888-1910)-Gilded Age and Progressive Era

U.S. V. E.C. Knight Co. (1895)- Involves American Sugar Refining Company and Congress.
After Sherman Ant-Trust Act, Congress tried disbanding company’s monopoly over E.C.
Knight Co. Ruled that Manufacturing is not an area that Congress can
regulate because of the Commerce Clause. Thus only states can dispute
manufacturing monopolies.
Pollock V. Farmers Loan Trust (1895)- Involved income taxes. Ruled
that Taxes of
1894 were unconstitutional because they violated the rule that direct taxes
be apportioned (divided up).

Plessy V. Ferguson (1896)- Involved Louisiana and Homer Plessy, a Black man. Ruled
“Separate but Equal”.

Insular Cases (1901-1903)- A series of court cases involving the constitutional right of U.S.
territories. Ruled that the rights were not automatically extended to territories
and it was up to Congress.

Northern Securities Co. V. U.S. (1904)- Involved the Co. monopoly and Teddy Roosevelt.
Ruled that Co. cannot exist and example of Trust-Busting.

Muller V. Oregon (1908)- Involved women’s working hours and Oregon. Louis
brought social sciences by discussing the impact of long working hours on
women- “Brandeis Brief”. Ruled that Oregon can enforce 10-hour work day
under the 14th amendment for the health of the women.

Loewe V. Lawlor(Danbury Hatters Case) (1908)- Involved Hatters Union and D.E. Loewe &
Co. Ruled that labor unions cannot restrain trade with strike action
according to the Sherman Antitrust Act. Setback for the labor movement.

Edward Douglas White (1910-1921)- Progressive Era and WWI

Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey V. U.S. (1911)- Co. was found guilty of monopolizing the
petroleum industry through a series of abusive and anti-competitive actions.Thus violating
the Sherman Antitrust Act. Ruled that the Co. be split into separate companies.
Another trust-busting.

Schenck V. U.S. (1919)- Involved a man who was imprisoned because of distributing
pamphlets against the army draft for WWI. Thus violating the Espionage Act of 1917.
Decided that right to free speech could be limited if it presented “a clear
and present danger to the people”.

Debs V. U.S. (1919)- involved Socialist party leader Eugene V. Debs who was imprisoned
for making an anti-war speech in Ohio. Decided that he violated Espionage Act
and imprisoned/stripped of citizenship.

Abrams V. U.S. (1919)- Same as other 2 cases. Wrote documents that the U.S. should
support the Russian Revolution. Decided that the two Americans had obstructed
munitions production and planned to overthrow the gov’t . Another
Espionage and Sedition Act of 1917 and 1918 violation.
William Howard Taft (1921-1930)-Not that much activity except wages.

Adkins V. Children’s Hospital (1923)- Involved minimum wage and working hours. Decided
that fed minimum wage for women was unconstitutional since it violated the 5th
amendment and the right to contract freely.

Myers V. U.S. (1926)- Involved Wilson and Frank S. Myers, a 1st-class Postmaster.
Decided that president has the right to fire any executive officials without
senate consent. Tenure of Office Act during Andrew Johnson’s
impeachment invalid.

Scopes Trial (1928)- Not a supreme court case but still really important. Involved John
Scopes and teaching the theory of evolution. Scopes lost and the Butler
Act(banning evolution) was still enforced.

Charles Evan Hughes (1930-1941)- New Deal policies

Schechter Poultry Corps V. U.S. (1935)- Involved National Recovery Administration of the
New Deal. Decided unconstitutional since there was too much executive
power and a violation of the Commerce Clause. Thus National Recovery
Administration of 1933 was no more.

Court Reorganization Plan- Not really related but still important. FDR’s controversy of his
bill in 1937 to add more justices for every justice older than 70.5 years. Defeated in

West Coast Hotel V. Parrish (1937)- Challenged Adkins V. Children’s hospital(minimum

wage). Ruled that Adkins V. Children’s Hospital no longer valid. Thus feds
can set minimum wage laws.

Many other court cases against the New Deal but do not worry about them.

Harlan Fiske Stone (1941-1946)- WWII issues

Smith V. Allright (1944)- Involved voting and Blacks. Ruled that all primary elections
must be open to all races.

Korematsu V. U.S. (1944)- REALLY IMPORTANT CASE!!!!!!! Involved Executive Order

9066(Japanese Interment) and Fred Korematsu. Argued that Japanese-Americans should
not be imprisoned for suspision of espionage. Ruled that Japanese Internment
Camps are constitutional.

Fredrick Moore Vinson (1946-1953)- McCarthyism

Alger Hiss and Rosenberg Cases (1950-1953)- Again, not supreme court cases but still
REALLY IMPORTANT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hiss, high official in State Department, was accused of
supporting Communism by giving documents to Whittaker Chambers, a professed
Communist. Proven guilty under perjury and imprisoned. Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg worked with Klaus Fuchs, a British scientist, in revealing secrets about the A-
bomb to the Soviets. Both were convicted and executed in 1953. Cases
showed Red Scare hysteria and vulnerability of high gov’t officials to

Dennis et. al. V. U.S. (1951)- Involved Eugene Dennis, general secretary of Communist
Party USA, and Congress. Ruled that Smith Act of 1940(illegal to support or
teach the overthrow of the government by force or affiliate with this type of
group) was applied and Dennis was convicted.

Earl Warren (1953-1969)- Civil Rights and Individual Rights

Brown V. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)- Involved Blacks and Topeka school board.
Landmark case in Civil Rights. Ruled the desegregation of schools and the
removal of “Separate but Equal” policy.

that 1st amendment protected

Yates V. U.S. (1957)- A individual rights case. Ruled
freedom of speech even Communist unless it presented a “clear and
present danger” to the country.

Mapp V. Ohio (1961)- A individual rights case. Ruled

that illegally seized evidence
cannot be used in court against the accused.

Engel V. Vitale (1962)- Separation of Church and State case. Ruled that prayers and
reading the bible in school violated the 1 amendment.

Baker V. Carr (1962)- Reforming of Congress case. Decided

that fed courts have
authority over reapportionment (way voting districts are portrayed) of state

Gideon V. Wainwright (1963)- Another individual rights case. Ruled that state courts
must provide an attorney to poor defendants.

Escobedo V. Illinois (1964)- Another individual rights case. Ruled

that a police officer
must tell an arrested person that he/she has the “right to remain silent”.

Griswold V. Connecticut (1965)- Personal Privacy case. Ruled that a state cannot
prevent the use of contraceptives in adults.

Miranda V. Arizona (1966)- Another individual rights case. Ruled

that a suspect has
the right to a lawyer being present during a police interrogation.
Warren Earl Burger (1969-1986)- Individual Rights

Roe V. Wade (1973)- Case on abortion. Ruled

that a women’s right to abortion
depends on the stage of her pregnancy. In other words, women can have

U.S. V. Nixon (1974)- Impeachment decision over the Watergate Scandal. Nixon resigns
before the Supreme Court can do anything.

Bakke V. Bd. Of Regents (1978)- Involved a case over racism. Ruled

that while
affirmative action systems are constitutional, a quota system based on
race is unconstitutional.

Texas V. Johnson (1989)- Involved the burning of the U.S. flag. Ruled that the burning
of the flag is protected under the 1 amendment.