• Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the first of a series of white primary cases, the Supreme Court overturned a Texas statute that explicitly prohibited African Americans from voting in Democratic Party primaries. In the one-party states of the South, primary elections were more important than general elections. In 1921, nevertheless, the Supreme Court ruled that Congress had no power […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the second round of the white primary cases, the Supreme Court struck down an exclusion of African Americans from primary elections by a party’s executive committee, holding that the committee was acting as an agent of the state. In Nixon v. Herndon[case]Nixon v. Herndon[Nixon v. Herndon] (1927), the Supreme Court unanimously overturned a law […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the Presidential Recordings and Materials Preservation Act of 1974, which authorized the General Services Administration (GSA) to take control of former president Richard M. Nixon’s nonprivate presidential papers and to make them available to the public. Following President Richard M. Nixon’s resignation, Congress enacted the relevant statute in order to protect […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s ruling was key to causing President Richard M. Nixon to resign from office. Chief Justice Warren E. BurgerBurger, Warren E.;Nixon, United States v.[Nixon, United States v.] wrote the unanimous opinion ordering the release of tapes possibly damaging to President Richard M. Nixon. Justice William H. Rehnquist declined to participate, saying he had […]

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Nixon, Richard M.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

While president, Nixon sought to appoint justices who would dismantle the expansion of individual liberties established by the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Earl Warren. During the Watergate crisis, the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision that he must turn over secret White House tape recordings led inexorably to Nixon’s resignation. Raised in a Quaker household in […]

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Ninth Amendment

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Amendment to the U.S. Constitution stating that the enumeration of certain rights in that document does not mean other, unenumerated rights should be denied. The Ninth Amendment is among the most enigmatic parts of the Bill of Rights. At one level, the thrust of the amendment is relatively clear. The Bill of Rights and other […]

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Newsroom searches

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Inspection of a news organization’s offices by law enforcement officers to find evidence of crimes believed to be in the possession of the news agency. In a series of cases in the 1970’s, the press asserted that a fundamental aspect of the freedoms of speech and press protected by the First Amendment was the right […]

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News media coverage

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Reporting by television, newspaper, radio, wire service, and other forms of mass communication on the activities of the Supreme Court. Although the Supreme Court wields considerable autonomy and power, the Court has never operated in a vacuum. The news media serve as a vital link between the Court and the American public, educating the citizenry […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In the first commerce clause case before the Taney Court, the Supreme Court found that state police powers could cover people on boats traveling in inland waterways. A New York law required ship captains to provide a list of passengers, post a bond for poor passengers, and carry away any undesirable aliens on board. The […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court expanded the range of warrantless automobile searches. New York police officers stopped an automobile for speeding and ordered the occupants to step out of the car. The officers found cocaine in the pocket of a coat that had been left in the car and belonged to one of the car’s occupants. Citing […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this case, also known as the Pentagon Papers case, the Supreme Court upheld the principle of no prior restraint, disagreeing only on its application to the facts. The Pentagon Papers case was only the second federal court case involving attempted prior restraint on the press the first after Near v. Minnesota[case]Near v. Minnesota[Near v. […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court redefined freedom of the press by requiring that someone wishing to recover damages from a newspaper for a false story had to show that the newspaper had actual malice or a reckless disregard for the truth. The New York Times printed an advertisement appealing for funds for civil rights organizations that included […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a New York City law that prohibited racial, religious, or sex discrimination in private clubs having more than four hundred members as long as the clubs served meals to guests and regularly received payments from nonmembers for the advancement of trade or business. In the landmark decision Roberts v. United States […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Overturning a state law that conferred a monopoly on existing businesses, the Supreme Court confirmed its commitment to free-market competition. Responding to a surplus of ice producers throughout the state, an Oklahoma statute of 1925 forbade issuance of new licenses to sell ice except when a necessity could be shown in a particular community. The […]

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New Deal

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Depression-era legislative program to boost the economy, initially assaulted as unconstitutional but later upheld after Roosevelt threatened to pack the Supreme Court. In the mid-1930’s, Franklin D. Roosevelt’sRoosevelt, Franklin D. New Deal, a combination of emergency legislation and a liberal reform agenda designed to end the Great Depression, encountered a conservative […]

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Nelson, Samuel

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Associate Justice Nelson participated in important Supreme Court cases dealing with slavery and the Civil War. Nelson began practicing law in 1817. He served as a state judge in New York from 1823 to 1831, when he was appointed to the state supreme court. He was nominated to the Supreme Court by President John Tyler […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court rejected the use of gag orders to protect the rights of those accused of crimes. This case involved an unusually perverted mass murder and sex crime in a small town in Nebraska. At the preliminary hearing, a confession and note written by the defendant were made available to the press. In an […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Reversing several precedents, the Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment did not prohibit the states from regulating most aspects of any business open to the public. Responding to the decline of milk prices during the Great Depression, the New York legislature passed the Milk Control Law of 1933, which created a board to fix […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court for the first time applied the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of the press to state governments under the incorporation doctrine under the Fourteenth Amendment. J. M. Near published a newspaper in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, which denounced local government officials particularly Jews for graft and corruption. In the absence of […]

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Natural law

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A “higher law” that, according to some political philosophers, applies to all human beings everywhere, is discoverable by reason alone, and is a standard by which to evaluate the laws made by human beings. Natural law is best understood in contrast to positive law and to divine law. Positive law is that made by human […]

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Native American law

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Body of law, also known as federal Indian law, that deals with the U.S. government’s interpretations of the Constitution, executive orders, statutory law, and treaties as they affect Native Americans and their rights. The Marshall Court took a leading role in defining the fundamental principles of federal Indian law through its decisions in Johnson and […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a drug-testing program in the U.S. Customs Service that required urinalysis tests for employees who sought promotions to positions that involve drug interdiction, the carrying of firearms, or the handling of classified information. A union of federal employees challenged the program as a violation of the Fourth Amendment because urine samples […]

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National security

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Foreign and domestic policy designed to protect the independence and political and economic integrity of the United States. The constitutional and legal powers granted to government that provide both domestic and global security. It has been said that the laws are no more and no less than what the courts will enforce. The Supreme Court […]

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National Organization for Women (NOW)

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The largest feminist organization in the United States, NOW aims primarily to eliminate sexism and all oppression of women. NOW was established on June 30, 1966, in Washington, D.C., by women attending the Third National Conference of the Commission on the Status of Women. The organization hopes to bring women into full participation in the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court resurrected and expanded the concept of state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment when it held that Congress had no authority to require state and local governments to pay the minimum wage to public employees, but the Court overturned this decision in 1985. In 1974 Congress amended the Fair Labor Standards Act so […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In upholding the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), the Supreme Court departed from its precedents prohibiting governmental interference with freedom of contract and also rejected its earlier distinctions between commerce and manufacturing and between direct and indirect burdens on interstate commerce. The NLRANational Labor Relations Act (also called the Wagner Act) of 1935 was one […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a 1990 statute that directed the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to consider general standards of decency and respect for diverse beliefs when deciding which projects to fund, but the Court narrowly interpreted the statute as a general exhortation rather than an actual restriction on particular expression. In a suit […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this landmark ruling, the Supreme Court held that the First and Fourteenth Amendments protected the right of an organization to use the courts in promoting its organizational mission. The Virginia legislature enacted a “barratry” statute that threatened to disbar attorneys who represented an organization sponsoring a judicial proceeding without having a “pecuniary interest” in […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court explicitly recognized that a freedom of association was implied in the First Amendment’s guarantee of free expression and free assembly and was an “inseparable aspect” of the liberty guaranteed by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. As the Civil Rights movement started in the 1950’s, several southern states tried to […]

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National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Multiracial national organization whose strategic purpose is to defend equality under the law and promote, using legal means, the material advancement of African Americans and other people of color. At the turn of the twentieth century, the lynching of African Americans, their inability to vote, the poverty of northern urban black people, and the negative […]

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Nabrit, James M., Jr.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Attorney Nabrit participated in many Supreme Court cases involving voting rights and public school segregation. Nabrit defended the voting rights of African AmericansAfrican Americans;voting rights[voting rights] in several Supreme Court cases. In Nixon v. Herndon[case]Nixon v. Herndon[Nixon v. Herndon] (1927), Nabrit challenged a law passed by the Texas legislature in 1923 that prevented African Americans […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the president possessed an inherent power to remove members of the executive branch and that a law requiring senatorial approval was unconstitutional. In 1920 President Woodrow Wilson fired Frank Myers, a postmaster in Oregon, before his term had expired. In so doing, Wilson ignored a 1916 statute requiring the Senate’s […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court maintained that the federal courts will hear only genuine cases and controversies and will not give advisory opinions. Very early in its history, the Supreme Court decided that the fundamental principle that courts should hear only genuine conflicts between parties (or cases and controversies) meant that the Court could not give advisory […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In its first sustained definition of “due process of law,” the Supreme Court ruled that the Treasury Department did not violate the Fifth Amendment when it used administrative warrants to recovery embezzled funds. The accounts of a customs collector, Samuel Swartwout, were short more than a million dollars. The Treasury Department used a congressional law […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court prohibited federal prosectors from using incriminating evidence compelled by the state, citing the privilege against self-incrimination. Justice Arthur J. GoldbergGoldberg, Arthur J.;Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York[Murphy v. Waterfront Commission of New York] wrote the unanimous opinion for the Supreme Court, holding that incriminating evidence obtained under compulsion by one level […]

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Murphy, Frank

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Murphy was the most consistent voice for basic fairness and tolerance on the socially conscious New Deal-era Supreme Court. He voted continually with the Court majority when it expanded civil liberties and wrote ringing dissents when it denied a claimed right. Murphy earned undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Michigan. After serving in […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court established the concept that the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of religion, press, and speech occupied a preferred position in U.S. constitutional law. Justice William O. DouglasDouglas, William O;Murdock v. Pennsylvania[Murdock v. Pennsylvania] wrote the opinion for the 5-4 majority, striking down a city ordinance that required the Jehovah’s WitnessesJehovah’s Witnesses, a […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a key provision of dual federalism. Justice Samuel F. MillerMiller, Samuel F.;Murdock v. Memphis[Murdock v. Memphis] wrote the opinion for the 5-3 majority, upholding the concept that a state’s top appellate court, not the U.S. Supreme Court, was the final arbiter of the meaning of that state’s constitution and laws. This […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

This historic ruling recognized that a state might exercise its police power to regulate private businesses. In the 1870’s the Illinois legislature, responding to demands of the Patrons of Husbandry (the Grange), passed a statute limiting the maximum charges for the storage of grain in warehouses located in cities of 100,000 or more. The operators […]

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Municipal corporations

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Local political subdivisions of state governments, normally afforded more home rule powers but less territory than other political subdivisions such as counties and townships. Most of the cases involving municipal corporations that come before the Supreme Court involve violations of section 1983,Section 1983 legislation passed by Congress soon after the Civil War. Its purpose was […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Although committed to the freedom of contract doctrine, the Supreme Court accepted that the special needs of women justified a law limiting the number of hours worked. Influenced by the ProgressiveProgressivism movement, the Oregon legislature in 1903 established a maximum of ten hours per workday for women working in factories and laundries. Curt Muller, owner […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court used a broad interpretation of the commerce clause to uphold the constitutionality of the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1938. In striking down the Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 in United States v. Butler[case]Butler, United States v.[Butler, United States v.] (1936), the Court held that Congress could not use its taxing powers to […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In a transitional decision, the Supreme Court approved of a statute limiting the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages but warned that there were limits to a state’s police power. In the 1880’s Peter Mugler was fined and imprisoned for continuing to manufacture beer after the Kansas legislature passed a statute forbidding its sale or […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the independent counsel statute. Chief Justice William H. RehnquistRehnquist, William H.;Morrison v. Olson][Morrison v. Olson] wrote the opinion for the 7-1 majority, upholding the constitutionality of the independent counsel statute. The statute, adopted in 1978, provided for an independent counsel to investigate possible federal criminal violations made by […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court struck down segregation in interstate public transportation because it created an improper burden on interstate commerce. Justice Stanley F. ReedReed, Stanley F.;Morgan v. Virginia[Morgan v. Virginia] wrote the opinion for the 7-1 majority, striking down a Virginia law that mandated segregation in bus transportation. The National Association for the Advancement of Colored […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court, in this unpopular decision, overturned 1930’s minimum-wage legislation. By a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court struck down a 1930’s New York law that established minimum wages for women and children. Writing for the Court, Justice Pierce ButlerButler, Pierce;Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo[Morehead v. New York ex rel. Tipaldo] said the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a state agency did not violate the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment when it issued a liquor license to a private club that practiced racial discrimination. Moose Lodge No. 107, a private club in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, allowed only white men to use its premises. One member of the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The landmark Moore decision marked two constitutional developments: the Supreme Court’s actual utilization of the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment as a limitation on state criminal proceedings and the federal courts’ supervision of state proceedings by way of habeas corpus petitions. In 1919 a violent racial clash in Phillips County, Arkansas, resulted in […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court used the doctrine of substantive due process to strike down a local zoning ordinance that prohibited extended families from living together in a single-unit residence. A residential suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, wanting to maintain its character as a single-family neighborhood, enacted a zoning ordinance that restricted each dwelling to a single family. […]

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Moore, Alfred

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During his brief time on the Supreme Court, Moore issued a single opinion that was politically controversial. Moore was educated in Boston and began practicing law in 1755. After serving as a military officer in the American Revolution, he was appointed state attorney general for North Carolina in 1782. He participated in Bayard v. Singleton[case]Bayard […]

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Moody, William H.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During Moody’s relatively brief tenure on the Supreme Court, he was a voice for Progressive reform and a dissenter against conservative interpretations of the regulatory power of the federal government. Moody came from an old New England family and was educated at Phillips Academy, Andover, and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1876. He […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that municipalities could be sued in federal court for policies that allegedly violate constitutional rights. By a 7-2 vote, the Supreme Court upheld the right of plaintiffs to pursue civil suits challenging New York City’s policy of requiring pregnant female employees to take medically unnecessary leaves. The Court’s decision involved an […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Reaffirming that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments prohibit only “purposeful discrimination,” the Supreme Court upheld an at-large system of voting in which no African American had ever been elected. The three-member city commission of Mobile, Alabama, had been elected on a citywide basis since 1911. Although African Americans made up almost 40 percent of the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the creation of the Criminal Sentencing Commission in 1984, despite its mixture of judicial and executive functions and personnel. In order to provide more uniformity in sentencing of criminals, Congress passed the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act, which created the Sentencing Commission. The president appointed seven members to the commission, three of […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s ruling restricted the powers of the federal judiciary in imposing new taxes on states in desegregation cases. Justice Byron R. WhiteWhite, Byron R.;Missouri v. Jenkins[Missouri v. Jenkins] wrote the unanimous decision of the Supreme Court overturning a tax imposed on a Kansas City school district by the local federal district judge. As […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court created a new federal power to act in accordance with treaties. The state of Missouri tried to prevent the enforcement of a statute resulting from the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918, charging that the law intruded on the rights reserved to the states under the Tenth Amendment. By a 7-2 vote, […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Chipping away at the separate but equal doctrine, the Supreme Court ruled that states must provide equal opportunities for legal education within the borders of the state. The state of Missouri, like other southern states, had no law schools that admitted African AmericansAfrican Americans;higher education[higher education]. The state claimed to provide separate but equal opportunity […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the courts could not stop the president from enforcing a law that was allegedly unconstitutional. President Andrew Johnson, pictured here, vehemently opposed the Reconstruction Act and regarded Mississippi’s motion against him as a threat to presidential power. (Library of Congress) Congress enacted the ReconstructionReconstruction Act in 1867 over the veto […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court required women’s schools to admit male students. Justice Sandra Day O’ConnorO’Connor, Sandra Day[OConnor, Sandra Day];Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan[Mississippi University for Women v. Hogan] wrote the decision her first on the Supreme Court for the 5-4 majority, upholding a young man’s claim that he was discriminated against by not being admitted […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a man who had not been informed of his right to remain silent and to have counsel appointed for him. It also created guidelines for the police in advising suspects of their rights. Chief Justice Earl WarrenWarren, Earl;Miranda v. Arizona[Miranda v. Arizona] delivered the 5-4 majority decision holding […]

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Miranda rights

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

A requirement that the police inform suspects of their right against self-incrimination and their right to counsel during custodial interrogation. The Miranda rights were created by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Miranda v. Arizona[case]Miranda v. Arizona[Miranda v. Arizona] (1966). Miranda, a suspect in a kidnaping and rape case, confessed after being interrogated for two […]

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Minton, Sherman

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Minton was the last justice to have political experience before his appointment to the Supreme Court, serving in the U.S. Senate from 1934 to 1940. As a result of his political experience, Minton believed in judicial restraint and deference to executive and legislative action in judicial decision making. From hardscrabble origins in southern Indiana, Minton […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that states could constitutionally refuse to allow women citizens the right to vote. Virginia Minor, a feminist leader, was denied the right to register to vote in Missouri. She argued that the state’s voter registration officer, Reese Happersett, had violated her rights, which were protected by the citizenship and the privileges […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that guests in a private home had no expectation of privacy if they had no personal relationship with the householder and were in the home for a few hours purely to conduct a business transaction. Responding to a tip, a Minnesota police officer looked through a gap in a closed blind […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In this case, the Supreme Court upheld a compulsory flag salute, but the ruling was overturned in a very short time because some justices in the original decision changed their minds. Numerous states required compulsory flag salutes at the beginning of every school day. In Pennsylvania in 1936, two young Jehovah’s WitnessesJehovah’s Witnesses were expelled […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that federal judges could not order the busing of students across school district lines into districts that had done nothing to promote racial segregation. A federal district judge ordered a desegregation plan for the greater Detroit area, which included the predominantly black central city and fifty-three suburban school districts in which […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

This decision, in which the Supreme Court determined that military courts did not have jurisdiction over civilians if civil courts were operating, is regarded as a constitutional landmark by many but has also been criticized and not always followed by the Court. Justice David DavisDavis, David;Milligan, Ex parte[Milligan, Ex parte] wrote the majority opinion for […]

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and

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Reaffirming that obscenity was not protected by the First Amendment, the Supreme Court formulated a three-pronged test as a guide for determining what kinds of sexually explicit materials might be proscribed by the government. Marvin Miller was prosecuted and convicted of a misdemeanor under California’s antiobscenity statute after he conducted a mailing campaign to advertise […]

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Miller, Samuel F.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Miller was one of the intellectual forces of the Supreme Court during the post-Civil War period. He wrote the first Court decision interpreting the breadth of the newly ratified Fourteenth Amendment. Born in Kentucky, the oldest of eight children, Miller first practiced medicine. Dissatisfied with his life, he earned his law degree and moved to […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that a trial could be held in a libel case against a newspaper, thereby increasing the complexity of libel litigation. In 1975 a Lorain Journal sports commentator suggested that a high school coach might have lied in an investigation of a fight that took place after a sports event, and the […]

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Military justice

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Separate body of law and procedure that applies almost exclusively to persons serving in the armed forces. As the Supreme Court noted in Parker v. Levy[case]Parker v. Levy[Parker v. Levy] (1974), military jurisprudence exists separate and apart from the federal judicial system. This separateness is authorized by Article I, section 8, clause 14 of the […]

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Military and the Court

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Armed forces of the United States, which has its own courts that enforces the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When the Supreme Court defined the relationship between the military and the Court in the mid-nineteenth century, it recognized the military as a legally separate sphere that looks primarily to the Congress and the president for […]

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Micou, William C.

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Micou’s waning political support and nomination by a lame duck president resulted in the Senate’s failing to confirm his appointment to the Supreme Court. Micou was born in New Orleans, where he rose to prominence in private practice. A Whig, he was a law partner of President Millard Fillmore. On February 24, 1853, Fillmore appointed […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court declared that it would assume that state courts relied on federal law unless the courts clearly demonstrated otherwise. By a 6-3 vote, the Supreme Court attempted to unravel the perplexing question of how to interpret the “independent and adequate state grounds” issue. The case sprang from a Michigan supreme court decision about […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld the use of drunken driving checkpoints under certain conditions. A group of licensed drivers sued Michigan, challenging the constitutionality of a state law and program that set up drunken driving checkpoints designed to catch people driving under the influence. They argued that the checkpoints constituted an illegal search and seizure under […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld state laws saying men could commit statutory rape but women could not. California law held men culpable for statutory rape but not women, even if both parties were within a narrow underage range, arguing that such a law acted more as a deterrent to pregnancy than a gender-neutral law would because […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court strengthened the power of newspapers by holding that states cannot require newspapers to grant a right of reply to political candidates they criticize. Florida passed a right of reply statute requiring newspapers to grant equal space to political candidates whom the newspaper had criticized. The Miami Herald denied equal space to Pat […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court first applied the doctrine of substantive due process to strike down a law for infringing upon a noneconomic liberty. Shortly after World War I, the Nebraska legislature passed a statute that prohibited schools from teaching any modern non-English language to children before the eighth grade. Meyer, who taught German in a Lutheran […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court ruled that Congress had the broad authority to enact affirmative action policies designed to increase minority participation in the broadcasting industry, but the Court overturned the ruling five years later. By a 5-4 majority, the Supreme Court used the important governmental interest standard when upholding a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy designed […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

By deciding that sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination, the Supreme Court cleared the way for employees, usually women, to sue employers for sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964. Mechelle Vinson, a former employee of a bank, claimed that her supervisor, a vice president of the bank, […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court strengthened the protection of freedom of speech by restricting the scope of what was obscene. Writing for a six-vote majority, Justice William J. Brennan, Jr.,Brennan, William J., Jr.;Memoirs v. Massachusetts[Memoirs v. Massachusetts] ruled that each of the three elements of the national obscenity test announced in Roth v. United States[case]Roth v. United […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s decision in this case, in which it ignored the due process clause, is most notable for the dissent by Justice John Marshall Harlan, which can be seen as a precursor to the Fourteenth Amendment incorporation doctrine. A man convicted of robbery challenged his conviction because of the use of a presentment rather […]

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Matthews, Stanley

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

An abolitionist who was criticized for his reluctant enforcement of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), Matthews narrowly won confirmation to become one of the most enlightened members of the Gilded Age Court. Born in Cincinnati, Matthews graduated from Kenyon College in 1840 and spent the next two years studying law before gaining admission to the […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that the First Amendment allows for public persons to win libel suits against journalists who deliberately distort the meaning of their statements. Janet Malcolm, a contributor to The New Yorker magazine, published a two-part article that was highly critical of psychoanalyst Jeffrey Masson, a former director of the Sigmund Freud Archives. […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

In one of a series of cases expanding the rights of criminal defendants, the Supreme Court held that the prosecution may not use evidence deliberately elicited from an indicted defendant when not in the presence of counsel. After a federal grand jury indicted Winston Massiah and a codefendant on charges of transporting cocaine from South […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

By deciding that the issue of noncoercive federal grants to the states was a political controversy and therefore nonjusticiable, the Supreme Court tacitly announced that such programs did not have any constitutional objections. The Sheppard-Towner Act[]Sheppard-Towner Act of 1921 provided federal subsidies for state programs promoting infant and maternal health. Massachusetts asserted in federal court […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court upheld a criminal conviction based on a six-year-old child’s testimony that was displayed in the courtroom by a one-way closed-circuit television rather than given in person. A Maryland law specified that a judge might allow the testimony of a young child to be televised if the judge determined that the child’s appearance […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court’s decision established rules for protective searches during an arrest. A 7-2 majority of the Supreme Court created a two-stage test to determine when police officers may make a warrantless “protective sweep” of the premises as a part of an arrest of a suspect in his or her home to ensure safety of […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court held that a group complaining of employment discrimination must include all other relevant groups in its complaint; this ruling was largely overturned by the 1991 Civil Rights Act. Chief Justice William H. RehnquistRehnquist, William H.;Martin v. Wilks[Martin v. Wilks] wrote the decision for the 5-4 majority, holding that African American firefighters who […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court, in the first of a long series of cases, granted the president broad powers to deal with war and foreign affairs. When President James Madison called out the state militia in the War of 1812, Jacob Mott refused an order issued by his state’s governor to assemble for duty. Duly convicted, he […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

For the first time, the Supreme Court asserted its appellate jurisdiction to review decisions by state supreme courts. During the American Revolution, Virginia confiscated the land estate of loyalist Lord Fairfax and sold it to private interests. Virginia also enacted a law denying the right of foreign subjects to inherit land in the state. Fairfax’s […]

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Martin, Luther

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

As a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, Martin defended state sovereignty and the diffusion of political authority. He also earned a lasting reputation as a trial attorney arguing cases before the Supreme Court. Martin was born in New Jersey to a family of modest means. He graduated with honors from the College of New Jersey […]

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Martial law

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Extension of military rule to civilian populations during times of war and other emergencies. Under martial law, military officials have the authority to take actions that suspend some or all civil liberties and would normally be unconstitutional. The justification for martial law lies in the fundamental concept of self-defense. When survival is threatened, people’s first […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The Supreme Court found that warrantless inspections or “searches” by Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA) inspectors violated the Fourth Amendment. A 5-3 majority of the Court in this case declared warrantless searches of businesses by Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA)Occupational Safety and Hazards Act (OSHA) inspectors to be violations of the Fourth Amendment. […]

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Marshall, Thurgood

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Marshall was the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court. As a justice, he established a record for supporting the voiceless American, developing a profound sensitivity to injustice. He promoted affirmative action and is often remembered for his dissents in areas such as the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection. Marshall was named for […]

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Marshall, John

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

During his long tenure as chief justice, Marshall elevated the Supreme Court to a coequal branch of government through landmark decisions supporting judicial review and federal supremacy over the states. Legal scholars consistently rank him the United States’ greatest justice. Born on the frontier and the oldest of fifteen children, Marshall’s father instilled in him […]

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Marshal of the Court

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Officer originally intended to serve and protect judges and others in federal trials. The first thirteen U.S. Marshals were appointed by President George Washington under the Judiciary Act of 1789Judiciary Act of 1789. The marshals’ duties originally included enforcing court orders and federal laws, capturing fugitives, and making arrests. The Secret Service and the Federal […]

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Marriage

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife. The marriage contract conveys rights and duties to both partners and continues until death or divorce. The conditions and terms of marriage, including who may marry, are largely governed by state laws. Before the mid-twentieth century, the Supreme Court infrequently considered issues involving […]

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  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

For the first time, the Supreme Court declared that a congressional statute was unconstitutional and therefore invalid. Before 1803, there was a great deal of debate about whether the Supreme Court possessed the authority to make binding decisions in regard to the constitutionality of statutes, especially those of the federal government. Many jurists argued that […]

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Mann Act

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

Federal statute that criminalized the interstate movement of women for prostitution or other immoral purposes. Congress enacted the Mann Act in 1910 to comply with an international treaty prohibiting the movement of prostitutes between nations and to respond to domestic hysteria that a conspiracy of coerced prostitution, so-called “white slavery,” was flourishing in U.S. cities. […]

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