Clarke, John H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During his short tenure on the Supreme Court, Clarke opposed the Court’s nullification of social and economic regulatory legislation. The son of a prominent Ohio attorney, Clarke graduated from Western Reserve College in 1877 and was admitted to the Ohio bar in 1878 after studying law at Western Reserve and with his father. Clarke practiced […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the Webb-Kenyon Act of 1913, forbidding the shipment of alcoholic beverages into a state in violation of its laws. The Webb-Kenyon ActWebb-Kenyon Act, passed in 1913 over President William H. Taft’s veto, assisted the ProhibitionProhibition states in enforcing their laws against the sale or shipment of intoxicating liquors […]

Read More

Clark, Tom C.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As attorney general, Clark designed and defended much of President Harry S Truman’s domestic anticommunism program. As a Supreme Court justice, he supported these and similar state-level loyalty programs and, in the Warren Court, opposed efforts to curb those programs. Born into a family of Texas lawyers, Clark served in World War I and received […]

Read More

Civil War

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Also known as the War Between the States, the U.S. Civil War pitted eleven Southern states which seceded to form the Confederate States of America against the rest of the Union. The Civil War raised questions of fundamental importance to the U.S. constitutional order. Among these were questions about whether a state could secede from […]

Read More

Civil Rights movement

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Demonstrations, debates, boycotts, legislation, and litigation that attempted to secure the political, social, and economic rights of African Americans and all other U.S. citizens. In the 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Civil Rights movement led by African Americans was most effective in altering the politics, culture, and mores of American society. The movement is often […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Ruling that key provisions in a federal civil rights law were unconstitutional, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment applied to state action only and that Congress lacked authority to prohibit discrimination by private individuals. The Civil Rights Act of 1875Civil Rights Act of 1875 outlawed racial discrimination in public accommodations, or privately owned […]

Read More

Civil rights and liberties

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The phrase “civil liberties” refers to the personal freedoms that are guaranteed against government infringement. “Civil rights” refers to the rights of minority groups whose protection is understood to require positive government action. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” So begins the First Amendment. The Bill of RightsBill of Rights is […]

Read More

Civil Rights Acts

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A series of federal laws to ensure equal treatment of citizens who, because of membership in a particular group, suffered unequal treatment at the hands of the various states or individuals. Following the Civil War (1861-1865), Congress approved the Civil Rights Act of 1866Civil Rights Act of 1866 to ensure that former slavesSlaveryAfrican Americans;citizenship[citizenship] were […]

Read More

Civil law

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Body of law that deals primarily with relationships between individuals; it is distinct from criminal law, which deals with offenses against the state. The term “civil law” originally referred to the system of Roman jurisprudence and was used to distinguish it from natural and international law. In the United States, the term distinguishes between the […]

Read More

Citizenship

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Legal membership in a country, attained at birth or through naturalization, that conveys certain rights and requires certain responsibilities. Article I, section 8, of the U.S. Constitution gives Congress the right to make laws outlining who is eligible to become a naturalized citizen of the United States and detailing how that eligibility can be established. […]

Read More

Circuit riding

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Supreme Court justices traveled hundreds, even thousands, of miles as members of a circuit court designed to bring the federal judiciary system to the people. The Judiciary Act of 1789Judiciary Act of 1789 divided the states into three circuits, the eastern, the middle, and the southern, with a circuit court consisting of two Supreme Court […]

Read More

Circuit courts of appeals

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Courts exercising varied original and appellate jurisdiction in several circuits at an intermediate level between the federal district courts and the Supreme Court from 1789 to 1911. With the Judiciary Act of 1789Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress created a three-tiered federal court system with district courts at the base, circuit courts of appeals at an […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Overturning a local ban on animal sacrifices, the Supreme Court announced that it would use the strict scrutiny test in examining any law targeting religious conduct for special restrictions. Believers in the Santer­aSanteria religion, which combines African and Roman Catholic traditions, practice animal sacrifices in order to appeal to benevolent spirits to heal the sick […]

Read More

Choate, Joseph H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Choate argued in several well-known cases before the Supreme Court. In his most noted case, he successfully argued that the 1894 income tax law was unconstitutional. After graduating from Harvard Law School in 1854, Choate was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1855 and New York in 1856. He was called on to perform […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In its first major decision, the Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution allowed a citizen of one state to sue another state in federal court. Article III of the U.S. Constitution granted federal jurisdiction over “controversies between a state and citizens of another state.” During ratification of the Constitution, Federalists asserted that this provision […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Using the Fourteenth Amendment, the Supreme Court first ruled in favor of challenges to laws excluding the Chinese from immigrating and becoming U.S. citizens, then succumbed to popular sentiment and upheld exclusionary statutes. In 1882 Congress enacted the first Chinese Exclusion ActChinese Exclusion Act of 1882, prohibiting Chinese laborers and miners from entering the United […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that when a valid arrest is made, the Fourth Amendment permits the police to search the arrested person and the area “within his immediate control,” but not any additional area. Using an arrest warrant, the police arrested Ted Chimel at his home on burglary charges. Ignoring Chimel’s objections, the police then […]

Read More

Chief justice

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Justice designated as administrator of the Supreme Court. Duties include distributing the workload among the other justices, assigning, and often writing opinions. Before the Supreme Court was instituted in 1789, Congress decreed that the Court would have five associate justices and a chief justice. The six justices were viewed as being essentially equal, although the […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that an antiloitering ordinance was unconstitutionally vague, failing to give ordinary citizens fair notice about the kinds of conduct that are prohibited and allowing the police too much unguided discretion. In 1992 the Chicago city council enacted a law making it a misdemeanor to remain in one place with “no apparent […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court, in holding that the courts had the power to review utility rates, incorporated part of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and applied it to the states. Justice Samuel BlatchfordBlatchford, Samuel;Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Co. v. Minnesota[Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Paul Railway Co. v. Minnesota] wrote the 6-3 […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment applied to the states and that, therefore, the state needed to compensate a railroad adequately when it converted private property to a public purpose. Justice John Marshall HarlanHarlan, John Marshall;Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Co. v. Chicago[Chicago, Burlington, and Quincy Railroad Co. […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court declared that the Cherokee Nation was not a sovereign, independent country and defined the Cherokee as a “domestic dependent nation.” When the Cherokee adopted a constitution and declared themselves an independent state, the Georgia legislature counteracted by annulling all American Indian laws and dividing their land into counties under state jurisdiction. The […]

Read More

Chase, Samuel

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Chase was the only Supreme Court justice impeached for misconduct on the bench. During the Court’s early years, he was an influential justice whose opinions established enduring constitutional interpretations. Chase was admitted to the bar in 1761. From 1764 to 1788 he was a member of the Maryland assembly and a vigorous supporter of U.S. […]

Read More

Chase, Salmon P.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Presiding over the first impeachment trial of an U.S. president, Chief Justice Chase exercised judicial restraint in a highly partisan atmosphere. As an influential national figure, he brought political wisdom and moderation to the constitutional issues raised by the Reconstruction of the South after the Civil War. Chase was the eighth child of a Cornish, […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In holding that only clear and explicit terms of contracts were legally binding, the Supreme Court increased the power of state legislatures to regulate private corporations. Under Chief Justice John Marshall’s leadership, the Supreme Court had used a broad construction of the contract clause to protect vested rights in private property. Charles River Bridge v. […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a man’s conviction for derisive speech of name calling in public, reasoning that “fighting words” were not subject to First Amendment protection. Writing for a unanimous Supreme Court, Justice Frank MurphyMurphy, Frank;Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire[Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire] upheld a state statute under which the defendant was convicted for calling a […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In upholding a federal statute that prohibited the transportation of lottery tickets in interstate commerce, the Supreme Court defined commerce broadly and authorized the development of a federal police power. Although the U.S. Constitution contains no federal police power, a broad interpretation of the commerce clause allowed the federal government to become involved with the […]

Read More

Chafee, Zechariah, Jr.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Chafee’s expertise on free speech law guided and influenced justices on the Supreme Court and helped define free speech in U.S. jurisprudence. Chafee graduated in 1907 from Brown University in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. He entered into his father’s prosperous iron business, but after three years he realized that his calling lay elsewhere. […]

Read More

, writ of

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Written order issued by the Supreme Court exercising discretionary power to direct a state supreme court or court of appeals to deliver the record in a case for review. If the Court grants a writ to a petitioner, the case comes before the Court. The U.S. Constitution and Congress determine the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction to […]

Read More

Cert pool

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Process wherein law clerks from different chambers collaborate in the screening of petitions for certiorari for inclusion on the plenary docket. Because thousands of certiorariCertiorari, writ of petitions and appeals are filed each term with the Supreme Court, its justices have come to rely on their law clerks to help determine which cases the increasingly […]

Read More

Catron, John

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

While on the Supreme Court, Catron guarded the rights of states and opposed the accumulation of wealth and power within institutions and corporations. During the Civil War, he worked to preserve the union at great cost to himself. Though little is known of Catron’s early years, his background probably was marked by poverty. After serving […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court overturned a 1935 coal act that set up local boards to regulate coal prices and help workers negotiate wages and hours, holding that only the states had the right to regulate coal mining. Although widely ignored, the ruling was never overturned. With a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court overturned the Bituminous Coal […]

Read More

Carswell, G. Harrold

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Carswell’s mediocre judicial record and prosegregation stance resulted in his nomination to the Supreme Court being rejected by the Senate. President Richard M. Nixon appointed Carswell to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1969, and Carswell was his choice to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant when Abe Fortas resigned in 1969. Nixon […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the Fourth Amendment permits the police to stop and search a vehicle without a warrant when there is probable cause that it contains illegal contraband. Based on a combination of circumstances, federal agents had reason to think that George Carroll was illegally transporting liquor in his automobile. Following a chase, […]

Read More

Cardozo, Benjamin N.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As Supreme Court justice, Cardozo advocated a philosophy of law based on life experience and a theory of justice that needs to account for a changing social, economic, and technological reality. Cardozo’s father, Albert Cardozo, was a successful lawyer elected to the New York state supreme court. However, he was forced to resign in response […]

Read More

Capitalism

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Economic system based on private property, competition, and the production of goods for profit, with the market rather than a central government making decisions about production and distribution. In a basically free-market economic system, the Supreme Court has been obligated to set restrictions on the power of the states and the federal government to intervene […]

Read More

Capital punishment

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The killing of a convict by the state for purposes of punishment or to reduce future crime. During the colonial period and the founding of the United States, the execution of convicts was not only routine but also a public spectacle. The hangman’s noose, a humane alternative to beheading, was employed with a liberality that […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court broadly interpreted the religious exercise clause of the First Amendment and held that the clause was applicable to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment. Newton Cantwell, an active member of the Jehovah’s Witnesses,Jehovah’s Witnesses went door to door trying to make converts. A few people complained about his diatribes against the Catholic […]

Read More

Campbell, John A.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Campbell’s opinion in the 1857 case involving slave Dred Scott cast him as a proslavery Southerner. As a lawyer before the Supreme Court in 1873, he argued that the Fourteenth Amendment should be used to limit state police powers in cases involving slaughterhouses. A native of Georgia and graduate of the University of Georgia, Campbell […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the police may search either an automobile or a closed container in an automobile without a search warrant provided that the search is supported by probable cause. The Acevedo decision established “one clear-cut rule” for searches of both automobiles and containers within automobiles. After 1925 the Supreme Court had allowed […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the federal government, not the states, had full dominion and mineral rights over the three-mile strip of submerged coastal lands. The United States sued California in order to establish federal sovereignty over the offshore area three miles seaward from the low-water mark. Until then, the states had exercised de facto […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

While ruling that the ex post facto limitation did not apply to civil laws, the Supreme Court justices debated the concepts of judicial review and natural law. The Connecticut legislature passed a resolution that granted a new hearing in a probate trial. The disappointed litigants, Calder and his wife, contended that the resolution was an […]

Read More

Byrnes, James F.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A judicial conservative who believed that the Supreme Court’s role was to interpret rather than make law, Byrnes served on the Court for slightly more than a year although his career in politics and public service lasted more than forty years. Byrnes’s first job in a career in politics and public service that spanned more […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that high officials of the executive branch, with rare exceptions, do not have absolute immunity from civil suits. Economou, a commodities dealer, filed a civil suit for $32 million, claiming that Secretary of Agriculture Butz had entered a false claim against him because of his criticisms of the department’s policies. Citing […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court struck down the regulatory features of the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933 as inconsistent with the Tenth Amendment, while at the same time interpreting the general welfare clause as providing an independent source of congressional power to spend public money for public purposes. The first Agricultural Adjustment Act, in order to […]

Read More

Butler, Pierce

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During seventeen years on the Supreme Court, Butler supported Court decisions that limited the authority of the states and the federal government to regulate private businesses. In the 1930’s he was one of the Court’s Four Horsemen, who consistently held New Deal legislation regulating economic affairs to be unconstitutional. The son of Irish immigrants, Butler […]

Read More

Butler, Charles Henry

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A lawyer who handled international affairs, Butler initially was pleased with his position as Supreme Court reporter but later found it somewhat boring. Butler attended Princeton University but left before graduating. He studied law in his father’s office, was admitted to the New York bar in 1882, and practiced law in New York in 1902. […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a state agency may not lease public property to a private restaurant on terms inconsistent with the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In Burton, the Supreme Court was asked to decide on the constitutionality of a segregatedSegregation private restaurant located within a parking garage owned and operated by […]

Read More

Burton, Harold H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Burton was the first Republican appointed as an associate justice on the Supreme Court by a Democratic president. Known for his thoroughness and for keeping tension among the justices to a minimum, Burton was a strong supporter of the Court’s efforts in civil rights cases. Burton graduated from Bowdoin College in 1909 and from Harvard […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held, for the first time, that films were a medium for expressing ideas and therefore deserved a degree of protection under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The film in question, The Miracle, was an Italian import that told the story of a peasant girl who, after being seduced by a stranger, gave […]

Read More

Burr, Aaron

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A politician, adventurer, and vice president of the United States, Burr presided over the impeachment trial of Justice Samuel Chase in the Supreme Court in 1805. Two years later, he was tried and acquitted of treason by Chief Justice John Marshall on circuit. Burr was born into a distinguished family and studied theology and law […]

Read More

Burger, Warren E.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Burger, who spent seventeen years on the Supreme Court, served the longest term as chief justice in the twentieth century, earning high praise for his achievement in judicial administration. As a jurist, Burger was most noted for his opinions on the separation of powers, desegregation, religion, obscenity, and procedure. Burger was the fourth of seven […]

Read More

Bureaucratization of the judiciary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Development of an administrative body within the federal judiciary. Administrative capabilities developed more slowly in the courts than in either the legislative or executive branches. One of the first laws passed by Congress was the 1789 Judiciary Act.Judiciary Act of 1789 The act established lower federal district courts and the structure of the federal legal […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In upholding a state’s maximum-hour law, the Supreme Court weakened but did not overturn the freedom of contract doctrine. An Oregon law of 1913 established a maximum ten-hour working day for all men and women who worked in factories, mills, and other manufacturing plants. The law required time-and-a-half pay for any additional hours. Bunting, foreman […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court reaffirmed that state legislatures had great discretion in regulating businesses “affected with a public interest.” In 1888 the New York legislature passed a statute establishing maximum rates that grain elevators might charge. The Supreme Court had approved similar regulations of large and strategic businesses in Munn v. Illinois (1877),[case]Munn v. Illinois[Munn v. […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that Congress cannot limit the amount of money candidates for political office contribute to their own campaigns, although the Court permitted other limits on campaign spending. This complex, confusing, unsigned Supreme Court opinion was a decision rendered by shifting groups of five justices on the several sections of the case that […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

This case upheld the authority of states to require sterilization of any person deemed to be mentally defective. In 1924 the Virginia legislature passed a statute that required the sexual sterilization of many “feebleminded” persons in state mental institutions. The law provided for procedural rights, including a hearing, appointment of a guardian, approval of an […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Emphasizing property rights, the Supreme Court struck down state laws that mandated racial segregation in housing. Early in the twentieth century, many southern cities enacted ordinances that mandated residential segregation. Louisville, Kentucky, prohibited both African Americans and European Americans from living on blocks where the majority of residents were persons of the other race. The […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prohibited states from using criminal confessions obtained by means “revolting to the sense of justice.” In the early 1930’s, three African American tenant farmers in Mississippi were convicted of murdering a white planter. The main evidence was their confessions. At trial, police […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a state tax on imported goods that were still in the original packaging and not mixed with other goods violated both the imports-exports and the commerce clause. A Maryland statute required importers of foreign goods to purchase a license. The state claimed that a license tax on the importer was […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court unanimously held that de jure (legally mandated) segregation of the public schools was prohibited by the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Following the Civil War (1861-1865), racial segregation in public accommodations and education through so-called “Jim Crow” laws was one of the major tools of the southern states for maintaining […]

Read More

Brown, Henry B.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Appointed to the Supreme Court largely for his expertise in admiralty law, Brown ultimately was remembered as the author of the 1896 opinion upholding the legality of “separate but equal” facilities for blacks and whites. Born into a wealthy merchant family in South Lee, Massachusetts, Brown graduated from Yale University in 1856. He moved to […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Based on the contracts clause, the Supreme Court overturned debtor-relief laws restricting the rights of creditors to foreclose on mortgages. Although the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Roger Brooke TaneyTaney, Roger Brooke;Bronson v. Kinzie[Bronson v. Kinzie] sometimes limited the scope of the contract clause, Bronson v. Kinzie demonstrated its continuing commitment to enforce property rights […]

Read More

British Law Lords

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Great Britain’s court of last resort, composed of eleven distinguished jurists named by the British prime minister to life peerage in the House of Lords. The Law Lords are the court of last resort in Great Britain and, in this way, they are the closest institution in Britain to the U.S. Supreme Court. Despite the […]

Read More

British background to U.S. judiciary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

British ideas concerning common law and natural law and the English people’s attempts to establish political and civil rights under a monarchy guided the Founders in forming the ideology and procedures of the new nation’s judicial system. Selectively drawing from the British legal tradition as it existed in the late eighteenth century, the Founders created […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Reflecting Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney’s bias toward states’ rights, the Supreme Court allowed a state-owned bank to issue notes for public circulation as legal tender. The U.S. Constitution prohibited states from issuing bills of credit, but the exact meaning of the term was unclear. In Craig v. Missouri[case]Craig v. Missouri[Craig v. Missouri] (1830), the […]

Read More

Briefs

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Written arguments submitted to the Supreme Court by the parties in the cases and other interested individuals or organizations. The documents are called briefs because the Court limits the scope and length of documents it permits to be filed. Of the thousands of certiorari petitions filed each year, only about one hundred twenty cases are […]

Read More

Brewer, David J.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In more than two decades on the Supreme Court, Brewer was the intellectual leader of an activist majority that regularly declared unconstitutional government-imposed labor and industrial regulations and interpreted the Constitution to protect private property and economic laissez-faire. Although born in Asia to New England missionary parents, Brewer returned to Connecticut in 1839, where he […]

Read More

Brennan, William J., Jr.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Supreme Court justice Brennan created a legal philosophy designed to advance the dignity of all people. The goal of his jurisprudence of “libertarian dignity” was a highly egalitarian and pluralistic order that extended broad protection for freedom of expression and individual self-determination. The son of an Irish CatholicRoman Catholics;Brennan, William J., Jr. immigrant, Brennan graduated […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of a state’s poll tax that did not treat all people equally. A Georgia law levied a poll tax of one dollar per year on all people between the ages of twenty-one and sixty, except for the blind and women who had not registered to vote. Payment of the […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

When federal courts review challenges to trial errors involving Miranda violations, the Supreme Court held that the courts may overturn convictions only when the errors result in “a substantial and injurious effect or influence” on the outcome of the trial. In a trial that resulted in Todd Brecht’s conviction on charges of first-degree murder, the […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment did not provide journalists with a special testimonial privilege not enjoyed by other citizens. Paul Branzburg, a reporter of a Louisville newspaper, wrote a series of articles about traffic in illegal drugs, using information from drug users who insisted on their anonymity. Subpoenaed by a grand jury, […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man under a criminal syndicalism statute, ruling that the advocacy of illegal action could be punished only if it was likely to produce imminent lawless action. Clarence Brandenburg, a Ku Klux Klan member, was convicted of violating a criminal syndicalismCriminal syndicalism statute for appearing in a television […]

Read More

Brandeis Brief

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Lengthy summarization of a case before the Supreme Court prepared by Louis D. Brandeis in defense of an Oregon law that limited the length of the workday for women in certain industries. Eight years before he joined the Supreme Court himself, Brandeis gained national attention with the lengthy brief he prepared while counsel for the […]

Read More

Brandeis, Louis D.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Brandeis’s focus on the facts of the case was part of a philosophy of sociological jurisprudence. His sympathy for the weak and poor and opposition to big corporate and government control helped shape the political response to both the excesses of corporate America and government incursions against personal liberties. Except for three years spent in […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a state’s denial of the right of women to enter a profession traditionally reserved for men. Myra Bradwell studied law with her attorney husband, and she edited and published the Chicago Legal News, a leading publication of the Midwest. Although she had passed the bar exam, her application for a state […]

Read More

Bradley, Joseph P.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As a Supreme Court justice, Bradley often dissented when the Court favored states’ rights over the power of the national government to regulate the economy. However, he voted with the majority to restrict the ability of Congress and the Constitution to protect women and African Americans from discrimination. The eldest of twelve children born to […]

Read More

Bradford, Edward A.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

President Millard Fillmore, a member of the Whig Party who sought compromise on the divisive issue of slavery, nominated Bradford to the Supreme Court, but the largely proslavery Democratic Senate took no action on the nomination, thus leaving Bradford unconfirmed. Bradford was in Connecticut and educated in the North, but he became prominent as a […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court made expansive interpretations of the constitutional guarantees against compulsory self-incrimination and unreasonable searches and seizures. The federal government charged New York merchants George Boyd and Edward Boyd with a civil offense for importing plate glass without paying the required duty. Using a federal statute, officials obtained a court order instructing the Boyds […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that it was unconstitutional for Congress to invest one of its own legislative officers with powers belonging to the executive branch. Faced with continuing budget deficits, Congress set annual ceilings for deficits in the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control ActBalanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985. If Congress […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution does not protect a right to engage in consensual homosexual conduct. By 1986 the Supreme Court had established that the due process clauses of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments protect a fundamental right to generic privacy, especially in personal choices relating to marriage, procreation, and child rearing.Gay […]

Read More

Boudinot, Elias

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Boudinot, a New Jersey politician, was the first lawyer admitted to the Supreme Court bar. Descended from a Huguenot family that fled France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes, Elias was the fourth Boudinot of that name. Trained in the law, he entered politics during the Revolution, serving in the New Jersey assembly […]

Read More

Bork, Robert H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

One of the most bitterly contested appointments in U.S. judicial history, Bork’s nomination to the Supreme Court created the precedent that a nominee’s judicial philosophy could be a subject of intense scrutiny by the Senate. On July 1, 1987, President Ronald Reagan, a Republican, announced that he would nominate Bork, a former judge on the […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court unanimously held that de jure segregation by the federal government violated the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment. The Bolling v. Sharpe decision dealt with school segregation in Washington, D.C., and was announced the same day as Brown v. Board of Education (1954). The equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In striking down the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, the Supreme Court declared that congressional enforcement powers in the Fourteenth Amendment may not be used to override the Court’s interpretations of the Constitution. In Sherbert v. Verner (1963),[case]Sherbert v. Verner[Sherbert v. Verner] the Supreme Court required a compelling state interest as justification for any […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that federal district courts may end court-supervised busing plans when the “effects of past intentional discrimination” have been removed “as far as practicable” and a local school board has complied with a desegregation order for a “reasonable period of time.” In 1985 the Oklahoma City school district requested dissolution of a […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a punitive damage award of five hundred times the amount of actual damages was “grossly excessive” and therefore contrary to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. After Ira Gore purchased a new BMW, he found that it had been repainted by the manufacturer. Alleging fraud according to Alabama […]

Read More

Blatchford, Samuel

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Known as a workhorse, Blatchford wrote 430 opinions in his eleven years on the Supreme Court. In an 1892 decision, he extended the interpretation of the Fifth Amendment by emphasizing that it prevented a person from giving evidence in any criminal case. Blatchford graduated as class valedictorian from Columbia College in 1837. He began studying […]

Read More

Blair, John, Jr.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

One of the original members of the Supreme Court, Blair worked to strengthen the powers of the federal government over the individual states. Blair graduated in 1754 from the College of William and Mary. In 1755 and 1756 he studied law at the Middle Temple in London. He established a law practice in Williamsburg, Virginia, […]

Read More

Blackmun, Harry A.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Blackmun wrote the 7-2 majority decision in the controversial abortion case, Roe v. Wade (1973). In twenty-four years on the Supreme Court, he left his mark on disparate constitutional disputes involving federalism, criminal law, commercial speech, and the rights of aliens. Blackmun was raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, leaving to take his undergraduate and law […]

Read More

Black Monday

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The day the Supreme Court struck down three pieces of New Deal legislation, signaling to President Franklin D. Roosevelt that his programs to cope with the Great Depression faced legal jeopardy. In an attempt to bring order to the chaotic economy, President Franklin D. RooseveltRoosevelt, Franklin D. developed an economic recovery plan called the New […]

Read More

Black, Jeremiah S.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although Black was a respected judge, his nomination to the Supreme Court was rejected, possibly because of political reasons. He also served as Court reporter and argued cases before the Court. Black was admitted to the bar in 1830 and appointed president judge of the court of common pleas of Pennsylvania in 1842. He was […]

Read More

Black, Hugo L.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During his thirty-four years on the Court, Black led the drive to make the rights of the Constitution’s first eight amendments binding on the states, while working vigorously to expand constitutional rights, especially in the areas of free speech and civil rights. The son of a poor storekeeper in rural Alabama, Black took a keen […]

Read More

Birth control and contraception

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The temporary or permanent prevention of pregnancy by barrier devices, hormonal pills and implants, surgery, spermicides, intrauterine devices, or other means. In the 1800’s some Christians viewed contraception as immoral, believing that its widespread use would lead to promiscuity, marital infidelity, divorce, child abandonment, and abortion. In the mid-nineteenth century several states passed statutes banning […]

Read More

Bill of Rights

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

First ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution, guaranteeing individual rights, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, separation of church and state, the right to counsel, the right against self-incrimination, and due process. When the Constitutional Convention adjourned in September, 1787, and submitted its new ConstitutionConstitution, U.S. to a curious public, three of […]

Read More

Bill of attainder

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Legislative act that, without a trial, conveyed punishment on a person guilty of a seditious act, later was generalized to mean any law that punishes a person or group without a trial. The bill of attainder, along with the bill of pains and penalties, was employed by the British Parliament in the sixteenth and seventeenth […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment protects commercial advertising to “some degree” and overturned a state statute prohibiting advertisements of abortion services. In 1971 the Virginia Weekly of Charlottesville published an advertisement for an organization that helped women obtain legal abortions in the state of New York. The newspaper’s editor, Jeffrey Bigelow, was […]

Read More

Bickel, Alexander

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Legal scholar Bickel prepared a memo on his research of the equal protection clause in preparation for the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), a pivotal civil rights case before the Supreme Court. Bickel was a constitutional scholar, Yale law professor, and jurist of the Frankfurter school arguing judicial restraint. He arrived in […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Until the Betts ruling was reversed in 1963, indigent criminal defendants in state trials did not have the constitutional right to a lawyer’s assistance. Betts, a poor defendant prosecuted for robbery in Maryland, asked his trial court to appoint a lawyer for his defense. The local policy, however, was to appoint counsel only in cases […]

Read More
  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court interpreted the term “public use” to refer to any policy that reasonably promotes the public interest, providing legislatures with great discretion in deciding how to use the eminent domain power. The District of Columbia Redevelopment Act of 1945 used the eminent domain power to condemn land for slum eradication and for beautification […]

Read More