Landmark U.S. Supreme Court Decisions

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  1. Correct decision Georgia v. Brailsford, 3 U.S. 1 (Dall.) (1794) — Jury has power to judge law in bringing general verdict.
  2. Correct decision Calder v. Bull, 3 U.S. 386 (Dall.) (1798) — Supreme Court has jurisdiction to overrule unconstitutional state legislation, such as ex post facto laws.
  3. Wrong decision Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137; 2 L. Ed. 60 (1803) — Courts must not sustain unconstitutional acts of government.
  4. Correct decision U.S. v. Burr, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 469 (1807) — Established standards of evidence for treason.
  5. Correct decision United States v. Hudson, 7 Cranch 32 (1812) — Courts have no jurisdiction over common law crimes.
  6. Wrong decision McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) — National Bank was tax-exempt federal agency.
  7. Correct decision Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824) — State may not grant exclusive navigation license for its coastal waters.
  8. Wrong decision Barron v. Mayor & City Council of Baltimore, 32 U.S. 243 (1833) — Federal courts do not have jurisdiction in cases in which a citizen sues his state for violation of any of the Bill of Rights.
  9. Correct decision Games v. Stiles ex dem Dunn, 39 U.S. 322 (1840) — If the bench and jury disagree on a point of law, the opinion of the bench prevails.
  10. Correct decision Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (4 Wall.) (1866) — Civilians may not be tried by military tribunals.
  11. Wrong decision Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. 506 (Wall.) (1868) — Congress may remove jurisdiction from the Supreme Court.
  12. Wrong decision U. S. v. Hall, 98 U.S. 343 (1878) — Congress may prohibit embezzlement of pension payments, enforceable by deprivation of liberty.
  13. Wrong decision Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884) — States not required to indict by grand jury.
  14. Mixed decision Logan v. U.S., 144 U.S. 263 (1892) — Congress may prohibit injury or death of persons in custody of U.S. officials, caused by any person, enforceable by deprivation of life or liberty.
  15. Mixed decision Sparf & Hansen v. United States, 156 U.S. 51, 64 (1895) — Jurors do not need to be informed of their power to judge the law in bringing a general verdict.
  16. Correct decision Coffin v. U.S., 156 U.S. 432 (1895) — Court must instruct jury in criminal case that accused is presumed innocent.
  17. Correct decision Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45 (1905) — State statute restricting hours of work is a violation of due-process protection of 14th Amendment.
  18. Wrong decision Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78 (1908) — State not required to protect right against self-incrimination.
  19. Correct decision Connally v. General Const. Co., 269 U.S. 385 (1926) — State statute void for vagueness.
  20. Wrong decision Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937) — State not required to protect right against double jeopardy.
  21. Correct decision Ex Parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1 (1942) — Foreign infiltrators onto U.S. territory may be tried for espionage and sabotage by a military tribunal.
  22. Correct decision Murdock v. Pennsylvania, 319 U.S. 105 (1943) — A state may not impose a tax or charge on the dissemination of religious literature.
  23. Correct decision U.S. v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303 (1946) — Legislative denial of compensation based on political views is a prohibited bill of attainder.
  24. Wrong decision Adamson v. California, 332 U.S. 46 (1947) — Decision of an accused not to testify may be used against him in a state criminal trial.
  25. Correct decision Reid v. Covert, 354 U.S. 1 (1957) — Treaties do not confer powers not authorized by Constitution, and in particular, over civilians outside U.S. territory.
  26. Correct decision Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) — State required to provide defense counsel to accused unable to hire his own.
  27. Correct decision Camara v. Municipal Court, 387 U.S. 523 (1967) — Building inspector must obtain warrant to inspect building if owner does not consent to it.
  28. Mixed decision Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976) — Campaign spending may not be limited, but contributions may be, and the identity of contributors may be required to be disclosed, and anonymous contributors prohibited.
  29. Wrong decision Lewis v. United States, 445 U.S. 55 (1980) — Person who has been convicted of a crime in a state court may be convicted of a federal crime for possession of firearms.
  30. Correct decision Brown v. Socialist Workers', 459 U.S. 87 (1982) — Minor party which has historically been harassed is exempt from campaign disclosure requirements.
  31. Correct decision Hafer v. Melo, 502 U.S. 21 (1991) — State officers may be held personally liable for damages based upon actions taken in their official capacities.
  32. Correct decision Soldal v. Cook County, 506 U.S. 56 (1992) — State or local officials who stand by or protect an unlawful eviction or seizure are liable for damages under 42 USC 1983.
  33. Correct decision Staples v. United States, 511 U.S. 600 (1994) — Government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant knew that his rifle had the characteristics that brought it within the statutory definition of a machinegun.
  34. Correct decision McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Comm'n, 514 U.S. 334 (1995) — Advocacy publication may be anonymous, and is exempt from campaign disclosure statute.
  35. Correct decision United States v. Lopez, 514 U.S. 549 (1995) — Prohibition against possessing firearm in proximity of a school is not authorized as connected to interstate commerce.
  36. Wrong decision Bennis v. Michigan, 517 U.S. 1163 (1996) — Property used in a crime may be forfeited even though partly or wholly owned by an innocent third party.
  37. Wrong decision Caron v. United States, 524 U.S. 308 (1998) — Even if a State permitted an offender to have the guns he possessed, federal law may use the State’s determination that the offender is more dangerous than law-abiding citizens to impose its own felony conviction.
  38. Wrong decision Saenz v. Roe, Docket 98-97 (Decided May 17, 1999) — State may not deny benefits to new arrivals.
  39. Correct decision United States v. Morrison, Docket 99-5 (Decided May 15, 2000) — Congress lacked authority to enact a law which provides a federal civil remedy for the victims of gender-motivated violence.
  40. Correct decision Jones v. United States, Docket 99-5739 (Decided May 22, 2000) — An owner-occupied residence not used for any commercial purpose does not qualify as property “used in” commerce or commerce-affecting activity, so arson of such a dwelling is not subject to federal prosecution.
  41. Correct decision Palazzolo v. Rhode Island, Docket 99-2047 (Decided Jun. 28, 2001) — A state land-use regulation may present standing to a subsequent owner for compensation under the Takings Clause of the Fifth Amendment.

Open document spreadsheet  MS Excel spreadsheet  HTML spreadsheet  Spreadsheet of U.S. Supreme Court Milestones  — Trace the evolution of departures from compliance with original understanding. (Open Document Standard format of first button needed to get the hyperlinks to the opinions and commentaries, but may not be compatible with MS Excel. A tool that supports the Open Document Standard is OpenOffice.org, which provides comparable functionality to the MS Office suite of tools, but is free.)

Sources for Supreme Court Cases

  1.  US Supreme Court Cases — Opinions from Justia & Oyez.
  2.  US Supreme Court Opinions — Findlaw.
  3.  US Supreme Court Collection — Cornell.
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Original URL: http://www.constitution.org/ussc/usscdeci.htm
Maintained: Jon Roland of the Constitution Society
Original date: 1996/5/12 —