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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.
    •   Opinion — Wrong decision, good opinion John Jay
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Wrong decision, good opinion Chase, Paterson, Iredell, Cushing
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Wrong decision, good opinion John Marshall, Chase, Paterson, Washington
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  4. Correct decision U.S. v. Burr, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 469 (1807) — Established standards of evidence for treason.
    •   Opinion — Wrong decision, good opinion John Marshall.
  5. Correct decision United States v. Hudson, 7 Cranch 32 (1812) — Courts have no jurisdiction over common law crimes.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Johnson
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  6. Wrong decision McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. 316 (1819) — National Bank was tax-exempt federal agency.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion John Marshall
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  7. Correct decision Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824) — State may not grant exclusive navigation license for its coastal waters.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion John Marshall, Concurring Johnson, J.
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion John Marshall
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion John M'Lean
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  10. Correct decision Ex Parte Milligan, 71 U.S. 2 (4 Wall.) (1866) — Civilians may not be tried by military tribunals.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Davis
    •   Partial Dissent — Bad opinion Salmon P. Chase
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  11. Wrong decision Ex Parte McCardle, 74 U.S. 506 (Wall.) (1868) — Congress may remove jurisdiction from the Supreme Court.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Salmon P. Chase
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  12. Wrong decision U. S. v. Hall, 98 U.S. 343 (1878) — Congress may prohibit embezzlement of pension payments, enforceable by deprivation of liberty.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Clifford
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  13. Wrong decision Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516 (1884) — States not required to indict by grand jury.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Matthews
    • Dissenting — Good opinion Harlan
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Gray
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion John M. Harlan, Jackson
    • Dissenting — Mixed opinion David J. Brewer, Brown
    • Dissenting — Good opinion Horace Gray, Shiras
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  16. Correct decision Coffin v. U.S., 156 U.S. 432 (1895) — Court must instruct jury in criminal case that accused is presumed innocent.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion White
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Peckham
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Harlan, Holmes
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  18. Wrong decision Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78 (1908) — State not required to protect right against self-incrimination.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Moody
    • Dissenting — Good opinion Harlan
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  19. Correct decision Connally v. General Const. Co., 269 U.S. 385 (1926) — State statute void for vagueness.
    • Opinion — Good opinion Sutherland
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  20. Wrong decision Palko v. Connecticut, 302 U.S. 319 (1937) — State not required to protect right against double jeopardy.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Cardozo
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Stone
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Douglas
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Reed, Frankfurter, Jackson
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Black, Frankfurter
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Reed
    • Concurring — Bad opinion Frankfurter
    • Dissenting — Good opinion Black
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Good opinion Black
    •   Concurring — Bad opinion Frankfurter, Harlan
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Clark
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  26. Correct decision Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) — State required to provide defense counsel to accused unable to hire his own.
    •   Opinion — Good opinion Black, Douglas, Clark, Harlan
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinions — Mixed opinion White, and others
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Brennan, Stewart, Powell
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Blackmun, J., Berger, Stewart, White, Rehnquist, Stevens
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Brennan, J., Marshall, Powell
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Marshall
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion O'Connor
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinions — Mixed opinion White, and others
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Thomas
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Stevens, Concurring Ginsburg
    • Concurring — Good opinion Thomas
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Scalia, Rehnquist
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    • Opinion — Mixed opinion Rehnquist, Kennedy, O'Connor, Scalia, Thomas
    • Concurring — Mixed opinion Kennedy, O'Connor
    • Concurring — Good opinion Thomas
  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.
    • Opinions — Bad opinion Rehnquist, and others
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
    •   Commentary — Graeme S. R. Brown
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Kennedy, Rehnquist, Stevens, O’Connor, Ginsburg, Breyer
    • Dissenting — Mixed opinion Thomas, Scalia, Suter
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  38. Wrong decision Saenz v. Roe, Docket 98-97 (Decided May 17, 1999) — State may not deny benefits to new arrivals.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Bad opinion Stevens, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer
    • Dissenting — Mixed opinion Rehnquist, Thomas
    • Dissenting — Good opinion Thomas, Rehnquist
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Rehnquist, O’Connor, Scalia, Kennedy, and Thomas
    • Concurring — Good opinion Thomas
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Souter, Stevens, Ginsburg, and Breyer
    • Dissenting — Bad opinion Breyer, Stevens; Souter and Ginsburg joined on I-A
  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.
    •   Syllabus
    •   Opinion — Mixed opinion Ginsburg, for unanimous court
    • Concurring — Mixed opinion Stevens, Thomas
    • Concurring — Good opinion Thomas, Scalia
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland
  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.
    •   Opinions — Mixed opinion Kennedy, and others
    •   Commentary — Jon Roland

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 — 


























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