Barron v. BaltimoreThe 1833 Supreme Court decision holding that the Bill of Rights restrained only the national government, not the states and cities. Almost a century later, the Court first ruled in Gitlow v. New York that state governments must respect some First Amendment rights.
Gitlow v. New YorkThe 1925 Supreme Court decision holding that freedoms of press and speech are "fundamental personal rights and liberties protected by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment from impairment by the states" as well as the federal government. Compare Barron v. Baltimore.
Engel v. VitaleThe 1962 Supreme Court decision holding that state officials violated the First Amendment when they wrote a prayer to be recited by New York's schoolchildren. Compare School District of Abington Township, Pennsylvania v. Schempp.
Near v. MinnesotaThe 1931 Supreme Court decision holding that the First Amendment protects newspapers from prior restraint.
Roth v. United StatesA 1957 Supreme Court decision ruling that "obscenity is not within the area of constitutionally protected speech or press."
Miller v. CaliforniaA 1973 Supreme Court decision that avoided defining obscenity by holding that community standards be used to determine whether material is obscene in terms of appealing to a "prurient interest."
New York Times v. SullivanDecided in 1964, this case established the guidelines for determining whether public officials and public figures could win damage suits for libel. To do so, said the Court, such individuals must prove that the defamatory statements made about them were made with "actual malice" and reckless disregard for the truth.
Texas v. JohnsonA 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.
Miami Herald Publishing Company v. TornilloA 1974 case in which the Supreme Court held that a state could not force a newspaper to print replies from candidates it had criticized, illustrating the limited power of government to restrict the print media. See Red Lion Broadcasting Company v. FCC.
Schenck v. United StatesA 1919 decision upholding the conviction of a socialist who had urged young men to resist the draft during World War I. Justice Holmes declared that government can limit speech if the speech provokes a "clear and present danger" of substantive evils.
Zurcher v. Stanford DailyA 1978 Supreme Court decision holding that a proper search warrant could be applied to a newspaper as well as to anyone else without necessarily violating the First Amendment rights to freedom of the press.
NAACP v. AlabamaThe Supreme Court protected the right to assemble peaceably in this 1958 case when it decided the NAACP did not have to reveal its membership list and thus subject its members to harassment.
Mapp v. OhioThe 1961 Supreme Court decision ruling that the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures must be extended to the states as well as the federal government. See also exclusionary rule.
Miranda v. ArizonaThe 1966 Supreme Court decision that sets guidelines for police questioning of accused persons to protect them against self-incrimination and to protect their right to counsel.
Gideon v. WainwrightThe 1963 Supreme Court decision holding that anyone accused of a felony where imprisonment may be imposed, however poor he or she might be, has a right to a lawyer. See also Sixth Amendment.
Gregg v. GeorgiaThe 1976 Supreme Court decision that upheld the constitutionality of the death penalty, stating that "It is an extreme sanction, suitable to the most extreme of crimes." The court did not, therefore, believe that the death sentence constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.
Roe v. WadeThe 1973 Supreme Court decision holding that a state ban on all abortions was unconstitutional. The decision forbade state control over abortions during the first trimester of pregnancy, permitted states to limit abortions to protect the mother's health in the second trimester, and permitted states to protect the fetus during the third trimester.
Planned Parenthood v. Casey A 1992 case in which the Supreme Court loosened its standard for evaluating restrictions on abortion from one of "strict scrutiny" of any restraints on a "fundamental right" to one of "undue burden" that permits considerably more regulation.
Dred Scott v. SandfordThe 1857 Supreme Court decision ruling that a slave who had escaped to a free state enjoyed no rights as a citizen and that Congress had no authority to ban slavery in the territories.
Plessy v. FergusonAn 1896 Supreme Court decision that provided a constitutional justification for segregation by ruling that a Louisiana law requiring "equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races" was not unconstitutional.
Brown v. Board of EducationThe 1954 Supreme Court decision holding that school segregation in Topeka, Kansas, was inherently unconstitutional because it violated the Fourteenth Amendment's guarantee of equal protection. This case marked the end of legal segregation in the United States. See also Plessy v. Ferguson.
Korematsu v. United StatesA 1944 Supreme Court decision that upheld as constitutional the internment of more than 100,000 Americans of Japanese descent in encampments during World War II.
Reed v. ReedThe landmark case in 1971 in which the Supreme Court for the first time upheld a claim of gender discrimination.
Craig v. BorenIn this 1976 Supreme Court decision, the Court determined that gender classification cases would have a "heightened" or "middle level" of scrutiny. In other words, the courts were to show less deference to gender classifications than to more routine classifications, but more deference than to racial classifications.
Regents of the University of California v. BakkeA 1978 Supreme Court decision holding that a state university could not admit less qualified individuals solely because of their race. The Court did not, however, rule that such affirmative action policies and the use of race as a criterion for admission were unconstitutional, only that they had to be formulated differently.
Adarand Constructors v. Pena1995 Supreme Court decision holding that federal programs that classify people by race, even for an ostensibly benign purpose such as expanding opportunities for members of minorities, should be presumed to be unconstitutional. Such programs must be subject to the most searching judicial inquiry and can survive only if they are "narrowly tailored" to accomplish a "compelling governmental interest."