Supreme Court Decisions

Supreme Court Cases


1803                Marbury v. Madison

This court case was the first time the Supreme Court made a major decision. This case gave the Supreme Court the power of judicial review, which allowed them to decide if a case was constitutional or not. This also helped even the balance of power between the 3 branches of government. This relates to the topic because this is an instance where national power was questioned.


1857                Dred Scott v. Sanford

This case determined that even though he was a slave in a free state, he was still property and would not be set free by the government. This backed up the fugitive slave act by allowing southerners to keep their slaves no matter where they traveled. This connects to the theme because this was a case about civil rights.


1892                Plessy v. Ferguson

This case ruled that separate but equal was okay. This backed up principles of the Jim Crow laws and allowed for further discrimination of colored people. These issues would continue until the mid-20th century when the civil rights movement was in full swing. This relates to the topic because this was a case of civil rights.


1901                Insular cases

These cases were a political dispute about the relationships between the United States and its territories. Through these cases, the government allowed itself to collect taxes from Puerto Rico, Guam, and the Philippines, and make them follow American laws. This connects to the theme because this was an issue of territorial rights.


1925                Scopes Monkey trial

This case argued whether it was legal to teach evolution in school. Religion had long dominated the scientific world as the idea of creation reigned supreme over evolution. This argument became significant after British scientist Charles Darwin found a lot of evidence that evolution created every organism. This case connects to the topic because it was a case of civil liberties.


1954                Brown v Board of Education

This case overturned Plessy v Ferguson by stating that separate but equal was not okay anymore. This case rose because of the growing civil rights movement. Colored people had very few liberties, even though the bill of rights gave them all of the same freedoms that the whites have enjoyed since the forming of the nation. This connects to the topic because it is a case about civil rights.


1973                Roe v Wade

This case legalized abortion. This law was passed so that abortions could be done if the mother’s life was at risk from the pregnancy. Many people opposed abortion, so this was a very controversial decision made by the Supreme Court. This has never been overturned and is still a major issue being argued about today. This connects to the topic because this was an instance of the government overriding states’ rights.