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Baker v. Carr (1962)

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Baker v. Carr (1962)

Precedent: Ruled that the judicial branch of government can rule on matters of legislative apportionment. Established the principle of "one person, one vote."

Background: • Tennessee ignored a law requiring reapportioning election districts • Populations between districts were drastically unequal

Constitutional Question: • Does the Supreme Court have jurisdiction over legislative apportionment?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - apportionment is an issue the Supreme Court may intervene in - the 14th Amendment ensures equal protections that justify this

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Barron v. Baltimore (1833)

Precedent Established that state governments are not bound by the Bill of Rights.

Background: ○Baltimore diverted the flow of streams for street construction ○This made water too shallow for vessels, ruining John Barron's business, who was a co-owner of a wharf in the harbor of Baltimore

Constitutional Question: Does the Fifth Amendment deny the states as well as the national government the right to take private property for public use without justly compensating the property's owner?

Ruling & Reasoning: No. The limitations on government articulated in the Fifth Amendment were specifically intended to limit the powers of the national government. Citing the intent of the framers and the development of the Bill of Rights as an exclusive check on the government in D.C., Marshall argued that the Supreme Court had no jurisdiction in this case since the Fifth Amendment was not applicable to the states.

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Bostock v. Clayton County (2020)

Precedent: expands Title VII protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Background: Gerald Bostock worked as a child welfare services coordinator for 10 years. However, after he started playing in a gay softball league, he began to be treated poorly at work and he was later fired.

Constitutional Question: Does Title VII in the civil rights act protect those who are identified as not straight? In Title VII it says they should not be discriminated on the basis of sex. Does sex include sexual orientation?

Ruling and Reasoning: Yes, it is unlawful to discriminate against an individual because of the individual's sex, by firing for being homosexual or transgender

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Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)

Precedent: The Court used a two-pronged test to evaluate speech acts: speech can be prohibited if it is "directed at inciting or producing imminent lawless action" and it is "likely to incite or produce such action."

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Brown v. Board of Education I (1954)

Precedent: Ruled that racially segregated schools violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Background: • Plessy v. Ferguson justified "separate but equal" doctrine and segregation policies • Brown wanted his daughter to attend a closer & better school instead of a segregated black school • The board of education turned down his enrollment request

Constitutional Question: • Do separate but equal facilities violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - unanimous decision overturned Plessy v. Ferguson - the impact of segregation created a feeling of inferiority unlikely to be undone & violated the equal protection clause

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Brown v. Board of Education II (1955)

Precedent: Supreme Court embraced in its first desegregation decision and urged localities to act on the new principles promptly and to move toward full compliance with them "with all deliberate speed."

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Buckley v. Valeo (1976)

Precedent: Campaign spending is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment, subject to restrictions on campaign contributions by individuals.

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Bush v. Gore (2000)

Precedent: Court ruled that manual recounts of presidential ballots in the 2000 election could not proceed because inconsistent evaluation standards in different counties violated the equal protection clause.

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Citizens United v. FEC (2010)

Precedent: Ruling that tossed out the corporate and union ban on making independent expenditures and financing electioneering communications. It gave corporations and unions the green light to spend unlimited sums on ads and other political tools, calling for the election or defeat of individual candidates.

Background: • Citizens United created "Hillary: The Movie" which expressed opinions about whether she would make a good president • The BCRA regulates electioneering communications & prohibited the movie because it constituted express advocacy

Constitutional Questions (4 of them): • Did McConnell v. FEC answer all questions regarding the BCRA? Are the BCRA's disclosure requirements an unconstitutional burden? If a communication lacks a clear plea to vote for/against a candidate can the BCRA still regulate it? Should a feature length documentary about a candidate fall under the BCRA?

Ruling & Reasoning: • No, No, Yes, Yes - because not all questions regarding McConnell v. FEC had been answered - do corporations & unions have freedom of speech? Yes - corporations & unions can make unlimited contributions to independent political & election broadcasts

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Town of Greece v. Galloway (2014)

Precedent: Marsh v Chambers: a practice by which Nebraska hired a chaplain to lead a prayer did not violate establishment clause because the practice was embedded in the history of the U.S. and the prayers were an acknowledgment of wide beliefs throughout the country

Background: ○The monthly, public town board meetings in Greece, NY, began with a prayer given by an invited clergy member ○No actual policy, but in practice, Christian clergy members delivered most of prayers ○When Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens complained about the prayers in 2007, the town increased denomination representation a little ○In 2008, Galloway and Stephens sued the town arguing that the prayer practices violated the Establishment Clause by preferring Christianity ○District court ruled in favor of town while Court of Appeals reversed decision

Constitutional Question: Does the invocation of prayer at a legislative session violate the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment even in the absence of discrimination in the selection of prayer-givers and content?

Ruling & Reasoning: No, the Est. Clause was never meant to prohibit legislative prayer and the prayer does not need to be non-sectarian because that would place the courts in the role of arbiters of religious speech.

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Colegrove v. Green (1946)

Precedent: Federal courts do not have power to deal with apportionment issues of state legislatures.

Background: ○Colegrove arose from the failure of Illinois to redistrict its Congressional delegation since 1901, despite internal migration that had left wide population disparities between various districts ○Colegrove sued Illinois officials before election because the congressional districts lacked compactness of territory and approximate equality of population.

Constitutional Question: Did these districts violate principles of fair apportionment?

Ruling & Reasoning: No. Justice Felix Frankfurter held that the federal judiciary had no power to interfere with issues regarding apportionment of state legislatures. The Court held that Article I, section IV of the U.S. Constitution left to the legislature of each state the authority to establish the time, place, and manner of holding elections for representatives, and that only Congress could determine whether individual state legislatures had fulfilled their responsibility to secure fair representation for citizens.

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DC v. Heller (2008)

Precedent: Court held that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess firearms for lawful use, such as self-defense, in the home

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Dred Scott v. Sanford (1857)

Precedent: Ruled that African-Americans were not citizens and therefore could not petition the Supreme Court.

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Engel v. Vitale (1962)

Precedent: School sponsorship of religious activities violates the establishment clause.

Background: • School had a nondenominational prayer read over the intercom during the school day

Constitutional Question: • Does this violate the establishment clause of the 1st Amendment?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - students are required to be in school & even though it is nondenominational it gives preference to a religion

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Furman v. Georgia (1972)

Precedent: The ruling halted all death penalty sentences.

Background: Furman was convicted of rape and murder. The penalty assigned for the conviction was the death penalty. Furman and Branch, one of the other appellants, were mentally challenged.

Constitutional Question: Does the sentencing and execution of the death penalty violate the Eighth Amendment liberty against cruel and unusual punishment?

Ruling and Reasoning: Imposing the death penalty constitutes cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth Amendment. The Court then held that such judgment in each case is reversed where the death sentence is imposed, and the cases are remanded for further proceedings.

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Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)

Precedent: Guaranteed the right to an attorney for the poor or indigent.

Background: • Earl Gideon was arrested for stealing a pint of wine & some change • FL law only allowed public defenders in capital cases • Gideon requested representation, was denied, defended himself, and was convicted

Constitutional Question: • Does the 6th Amendment's right to an attorney extend to all felony cases?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - the 14th Amendment applies the 6th Amendment to all criminal cases - one cannot be assured a fair trial without an attorney, lawyers are considered necessities in court, & it ensures all defendants stand equally in the eyes of the law.

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Gitlow v. New York (1925)

Precedent: Established precedent for the doctrine of selective incorporation, thus extending most of the requirements of the Bill of Rights to the states.

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Gomillion v. Lightfoot (1960)

Precedent: Outlawed racial gerrymandering.

Background: An act of the Alabama legislature re-drew the electoral district boundaries of Tuskegee, replacing what had been a region with a square shape with a twenty-eight sided figure. The effect of the new district was to exclude essentially all blacks from the city limits of Tuskegee and place them in a district where no whites lived.

Constitutional Question: Did the redrawing of Tuskegee's electoral district boundaries violate the Fifteenth Amendment?

Ruling & Reasoning: Unanimous court decision. A state violates the Fifteenth Amendment when it constructs boundary lines between electoral districts for the purpose of denying equal representation to Blacks.

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Gregg v. Georgia (1976)

Precedent: The imposition of the death penalty does not, automatically, violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment.

Background: A jury found Gregg guilty of armed robbery and murder and sentenced him to death. On appeal, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed the death sentence except as to its imposition for the robbery conviction. Gregg challenged his remaining death sentence for murder, claiming that his capital sentence was a "cruel and unusual" punishment that violated the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

Constitutional Question: Is the imposition of the death sentence prohibited under the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments as "cruel and unusual" punishment?

Ruling & Reasoning: No. The Court held that a punishment of death did not violate the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments under all circumstances. In extreme criminal cases, e.g. when a defendant has been convicted of deliberately killing another, the careful and judicious use of the death penalty may be appropriate if carefully employed. Georgia's death penalty statute assures the judicious and careful use of the death penalty by requiring a bifurcated proceeding, meaning the trial and sentencing are conducted separately, specific jury findings as to the severity of the crime and the nature of the defendant, and a comparison of each capital sentence's circumstances with other similar cases.

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Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

Precedent: Ruled that a state law criminalizing the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy.

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Heart of Atlanta Motel v. US (1964)

Precedent: Case holding that the U.S. Congress could use the power granted to it by the Constitution's Commerce Clause to force private businesses to abide by the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

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Korematsu v. US (1944)

Precedent: Upheld the constitutionality of the relocation of Japanese Americans as a wartime necessity.

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Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

Precedent: The Court held that a state statute making it a crime for two persons of the same sex to engage in certain intimate sexual conduct violates the Due Process Clause.

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Lemon v. Kurtzman (1971)

Precedent: Ruled that state aid to church-related schools must be clearly secular, the government's action must neither advance nor inhibit religion, and the government action must not foster an "excessive entanglement" between government and religion.

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Mapp v. Ohio (1961)

Precedent: Ruled that all evidence obtained by searches and seizures in violation of the Constitution is, by the Fourth Amendment, inadmissible in a state court.

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Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Precedent: Established the principle of judicial review. Strengthened the power of the judicial branch by giving the Supreme Court the authority to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional.

Background: • The Judiciary Act of 1801 created more judgeships just before Jefferson took office • They were not valid until delivered, & Marbury's was not • Marbury & 3 others petitioned for a writ of mandamus demanding their appointments be delivered

Constitutional Questions (3): • Did the plaintiffs have a right to receive their commissions? Can they sue in court for them? Does the Supreme Court have the authority to order their delivery?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Refusing to deliver the appointments was illegal, the Court did not order Madison to hand over the appointments, the writ of mandamus was the proper route to go about this, but the Judiciary Act of 1789 was unconstitutional & SCOTUS did not have the power to issue this writ - this established judicial review (power to declare laws unconstitutional)

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McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Precedent: Established supremacy of the US Constitution and federal laws over state laws.

Background: • Congress creates 2nd Bank of the US • Maryland imposes taxes on the 2nd Bank of the US • Bank cashier McCulloch refused to pay the tax

Constitutional Questions: • Did Congress have the authority to establish a bank? • Did Maryland interfere with Congressional powers?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes, Yes - Congress has implied powers through the necessary and proper clause & MD violated the supremacy clause by interfering with legitimate Congressional actions

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McDonald v. Chicago (2010)

Precedent: Supreme court found that the right of an individual to "keep and bear arms" as protected under the Second Amendment is incorporated by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment against the states.

Background: • In DC v. Heller bans on handguns were ruled unconstitutional • Chicago & Oak Park had handgun bans

Constitutional Question: • Does the 2nd Amendment apply to the states?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - the right to keep and bear arms is applicable to the states, the 14th Amendment incorporates the 2nd, & the Heller decision could be applied to the handgun bans in question.

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Miranda v. Arizona (1966)

Precedent: Ruled that the police must inform criminal suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning suspects after arrest.

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Morse v. Frederick (2007)

Precedent: The students' freedom of expressions do not include pro-drug messages. School can prohibit speech when it causes or has the potential to cause a disruption at school.

Background: As the Olympic torch relay passed outside of Joseph Frederick's school in Juneau, Alaska, he unfurled a sign that read "Bong Hits 4 Jesus". The school principal, Patricia Morse, felt the banner had a pro-drug message and made him take it down and suspended Frederick for 10 days.

Constitutional Question: Does the First Amendment allow public schools to prohibit students from displaying messages promoting the use of illegal drugs at school-supervised events?

Ruling & Reasoning: The Supreme Court ruled that Frederick's First Amendment rights were not violated and that "schools may take steps to safeguard those entrusted to their care from speech that can reasonably be regarded as encouraging illegal drug use."

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New Jersey v. T.L.O. (1985)

Precedent: 4th amendment protects against unreasonable searches, but schools can perform these searches; girl has drugs in her purse, school searches it and finds it, she tries to claim its unconstitutional, Supreme Court says search is reasonable because of reasonable suspicion and probable cause.

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New York Times Co. v. US (1971)

Precedent: Bolstered the freedom of the press, establishing a "heavy presumption against prior restraint" even in cases involving national security.

Background: • NYT reporter was given classified papers from the Pentagon showing the reasons the government provided the public for entering the Vietnam war were untrue • The government tried to prevent this on grounds of national security

Constitutional Question: • Did restricting the printing of the Pentagon Papers story violate the 1st Amendment's freedom of the press?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - this was prior restraint and there are only extreme cases when it was allowed - this story did not fail the imminent danger test as no lives were put in jeopardy and it dealt with past decisions so the story was allowed.

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Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)

Precedent: Court ruled that states must both recognize same-sex marriages from other states, and provide licenses within the state.

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Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992)

Precedent: Court ruled a Pennsylvania law that would have required a woman to notify her husband before getting an abortion was thrown out, but laws calling for parental consent and the imposition of a 24-hour waiting period were upheld. States can regulate abortion but not with regulations that impose an "undue burden" upon. women

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Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Precedent: Upheld Jim Crow segregation by approving "separate but equal" public facilities for African-Americans.

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Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Precedent: Ruled that race could be used as one factor among others in the competition for available places.

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Roe v. Wade (1973)

Precedent: Ruled that the decision to obtain an abortion is protected by the right to privacy implied by the Bill of Rights.

Background: • An unmarried pregnant woman in TX was denied an abortion • TX law only allowed them when the doctor determined it necessary to protect the life of the mother

Constitutional Question: • Did the right to have an abortion fall under an individual's right to privacy?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - the right to privacy extends to marriage, procreation, & contraception - a fetus is not a person under the 14th Amendment, yet protecting the life of the woman & the potentiality of life must be considered (allowed states to regulate abortion after 1st trimester)

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Schenck v. US (1919)

Precedent: Ruled that free speech could be limited when it presents a "clear and present danger".

Background: • Schenck distributed pamphlets urging people to resist the draft during WWI • He was charged with conspiracy for violating the Espionage Act & obstructing military recruitment

Constitutional Question: • Did Schenck's conviction under the Espionage Act violate his freedom of speech?

Ruling & Reasoning: • No - unanimous decision stating the government has greater authority during wartime, his actions could have disrupted the conscription process, & established the "clear and present danger test"

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Shaw v. Reno (1993)

Precedent: Court ruled that racial gerrymandering-invalidated the district because boundaries were neither contiguous nor compact and were drawn with the intent to discriminate using racial gerrymandering. The court ruled that any racial gerrymandering by the state required a compelling state interest

Background: • NC created 2 black minority-majority districts • Part of one district was only as wide as the interstate

Constitutional Question: • Did the districts as drawn create a racial gerrymander & violate the 14th Amendment equal protections of the white residents?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - while neutral on the surface the shapes of districts were bizarre enough to suggest maps were drawn to separate people based on race, while the plan had noble intentions violated the equal protection clause.

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Shelby County v. Holder (2013)

Precedent: Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was removed.

Background: Shelby County, Alabama, was a covered jurisdiction under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended in 2006 so it had to get preclearance for all voting changes. In 2010, county officials filed a lawsuit against Attorney General Eric Holder, claiming that the preclearance formula and requirements were unconstitutional. A federal district court rejected that claim, as did the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. Shelby County appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States

Constitutional Question: Does the renewal of Section 5 of the Voter Rights Act under the constraints of Section 4(b) exceed Congress' authority under the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, and therefore violate the Tenth Amendment and Article Four of the Constitution?

Ruling & Reasoning: Yes. Ruled the preclearance formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act unconstitutional. The formula was based on outdated evidence and inconsistent with contemporary voting rights practice. Departs from basic principles of constitutional equality because it suspends changes to state election law until they have been precleared by federal authorities. The Act only applies to nine states and, 50 years after the Act was enacted, it's outdated

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Texas v. Johnson (1989)

Precedent: Ruled that flag burning is a form of symbolic speech protected by the 1st Amendment.

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Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community Schools (1969)

Precedent: Protected some forms of symbolic speech. Ruled that students do not " shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate."

Background: • Students wore black armbands with white peace signs on them to protest US actions in Vietnam • Students were suspended for wearing them • Administration argued that they could disrupt the educational setting • Constitutional Question: • Did suspending students for wearing their armbands violate their 1st Amendment freedom of expression/speech?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - free speech is not surrendered at the school door - while it can be limited to maintain the learning environment, this act of expression did not disrupt it

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US v. Lopez (1995)

Precedent: Congress may not use the commerce clause to make possession of a gun in a school zone a federal crime.

Background: • Congress passed the Gun Free School Zone Act • Lopez carried a gun on school grounds and was caught • He was charged locally & then federally under the GFSZA & local charges dropped

Constitutional Question: • Is the Gun Free School Zone Act an unconstitutional violation of the commerce clause?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - possessing a gun in a school zone is a criminal act and not an act of commerce - criminal laws are specifically reserved for the states

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US v. Nixon (1974)

Precedent: Ruled that there is no constitutional guarantee of non-qualified executive privilege.

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West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943)

Precedent: Court ruled that compelling public schoolchildren to salute the flag was unconstitutional. Justices argued that "[i]f there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein."

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Wisconsin v. Yoder (1972)

Precedent: Compelling Amish students to attend school past the eight grade violates the free exercise clause of the 1st Amendment.

Background: • Wisconsin law required students to attend school until age 16 • Amish communities argued their children did not need to attend beyond 8th grade

Constitutional Question: • Does requiring Amish children to attend school until age 16 violate the free exercise clause?

Ruling & Reasoning: • Yes - the freedoms of the individual outweighed the interest of the state because the values & programs of the school were in sharp conflict with the group's religious beliefs

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