American Government Court Cases Study Guide

Abington School District v. Schempp
1963 Court case ruled that the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer in school violated the first amendment’s establishment clause

Barron v. Baltimore
the 1833 Supreme Court decision holding that the bill of rights restrained only the national government, not the states and cities.

Brown v. Board of Education
1954 – The Supreme Court overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, declared that racially segregated facilities are inherently unequal and ordered all public schools desegregated.

Bush v. Gore
5-4 Supreme Court declared that Florida vote recount violated equal protection clause (some votes would be examined more closely than others); ended Gore’s challenge to 2000 election results. Power of judicial review (effectively decided 2000 election).

Dred Scott v. Sandford
1857 Supreme Court decision that stated that slaves were not citizens; that living in a free state or territory, even for many years, did not free slaves, denouncing the right of a slave to sue, since a slave was property and not a citizen; and declared the Missouri Compromise unconstitional

Engel v. Vitale
1962 case banned formal prayer in schools, government would not make any religion the ‘official’ religion.

Furman v. Georgia
(1972) Death penalty is cruel and unusual if carried out in “an arbitrary, discriminatory, and capricious manner”.

Gibbons v. Ogden
(1824) U.S. Supreme Court decision reinforcing the “commerce clause” (the federal government’s right to regulate interstate commerce) of the Constitution; Chief Justice John Marshall ruled against the State of New York’s granting of steamboat monopolies.

Gideon v. Wainwright
1963 ruling that a defendant in a felony trial must be provided a lawyer free of charge if the defendant cannot afford one.

Gitlow v. New York
the 1925 supreme court decision holding that freedoms of press and speech are “fundamental personal rights and liberties” protected by the 14th Ammendment

Gregg v. Georgia
The 1976 Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, not believing that the death penalty was an unusual form of punishment

Griswold v. Connecticut
1965 decision that the Constitution implicitly guarantees citizens’ right to privacy; legalizing sexual contraceptives as a form of birth control as a marital right to privacy.

Lemon v. Kurtzman
1971 defining government actions in dealing with religion–must not inhibit or advance religion and does not entangle the government with religion.

Miller v. California
(1973) A first amendment case. The Court defined obscenity.

Miranda v. Arizona
1966 case ruling that the accused must be notified of their rights before being questioned by the police

Plessy v. Ferguson
1896 Supreme Court decision which legalized state ordered segregation so long as the facilities for blacks and whites were equal

Roe v. Wade
(1973) legalized abortion on the basis of a woman’s right to privacy

Texas v. Johnson
A 1989 case in which the Supreme Court struck down a law banning the burning of the American flag on the grounds that such action was symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment.

United States v. Nixon
1974 Supreme Court decision that required President Nixon to turn White House tapes over to the Courts.

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