Flashcards in Case Studies Deck (23)
Citizens United v FEC (2010)
(Corporations, PACs, speech)
- The Court ruled that corporations should be allowed to contribute to PACs.
- The Court used the argument that if the corporations
weren't allowed to contribute, then they would be
going against the 1st amendment (freedom of speech).
- The ruling was 5-4 to the Citizens United.
Roper v Simmons (2005)
(Unconstitutional, under 18)
• This is a landmark case because the Supreme
Court ruled that it is unconstitutional to subject
someone to capital punishment, who committed a
crime under the age of 18.
• On March 1st in 2005 the Supreme Court ruled 5-4
in favour of the respondent Simmons, that it is
unconstitutional to give someone the death
who committed their crime under the age of 18.
• Simmons was originally sentenced to death, but his
attorneys argued it was unconstitutional because
he had committed the crime under the age of 18.
(8th and 14th amendments).
• The Supreme Court ruled for Simmons however,
sentenced him to life in prison with no chance of
probation or parole.
Roe v Wade (1973)
(Favour, abortion, rights)
• This case was Jane Roe vs Henry Wade the district
attorney of Dallas County.
• Jane Roe was going against Wade because he had
enforced a Texas law, which prohibited the ability
for women to have an abortion unless it would save
the women’s life.
• On January 22nd in 1973 the Supreme Court ruled
7-2 in favour of Jane Roe getting an abortion.
• The Supreme Court’s decision confirmed the
legality of a women’s rights to have an abortion
under the 14th amendment (protecting citizenship
rights) of the Constitution.
4. Regents of the University of CA v Bakke (1978)
(Specific, quotas, forbidden)
• In 1973, the Davis Medical School of the University
of California implemented a special admissions
program intended to raise enrollment levels of
• Bakke was a white male who applied for admission
in 1973 and 1974 and was rejected both years.
• It was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court.
The Court upheld affirmative action and allowed
race to be one of the several factors of college
• However, specific racial quotas such as, 16 out of
100 seats have to be for minority students were
forbidden by the Supreme Court for going too far.
• Bakke was admitted to UC Davis Medical School,
and the school's practice of reserving 16 seats for
minority students was struck down.
Columbia v Heller (2008)
(Banning, firearms, unconstitutional)
• The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to Heller.
• The Supreme Court stated that the 2nd
amendment does protect the individual’s right to
• This is a landmark case.
• The U.S. Supreme Court decision upheld a federal
district ruling that a Washington, D.C. law banning
handguns and requiring other firearms to be stored
unloaded or locked was unconstitutional on
Second Amendment grounds.
Hall v Florida (2014)
(IQ, test, unconstitutional)
• The Court ruled that a bright-line IQ threshold
requirement for determining whether someone has
an intellectual disability (mental illness) is
unconstitutional in deciding whether they are
eligible for the death penalty.
• In 2002, the Supreme Court decided the case
Atkins v. Virginia, in which the Court held that the
execution of mentally retarded defendants
constituted cruel and unusual punishment in
violation of the Eighth Amendment.
• Hall filed a motion to declare certain sections of
the Florida death penalty statute unconstitutional
based on this decision and filed a claim to be
exempt from the death penalty under that ruling.
• The trial court held a hearing to determine if Hall
was eligible for such a claim and found that he
was not because the first prong of the test whether
he had an IQ below 70—could not be met. The
Supreme Court of Florida affirmed.
• The Supreme Court ruled a 5-4 majority for Hall.
Grutter v Bollinger (2003)
(Sued, Law School)
• The University of Michigan Law School denied
Barbara Grutter’s application to the School.
• Grutter, a white Michigan resident, then sued the
• Grutter claimed that the Law School’s use of
affirmative action in its admissions policy violated
her Equal Protection rights under the Fourteenth
• The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, held that the
Law School’s affirmative action policy was
• The Court reasoned that the Law School’s goal of
student diversity was a compelling interest. Also,
the Court found that the Law School’s individual
review of each applicant (where race was only one
of many factors) was narrowly tailored to achieve
that compelling interest.
• The “critical mass,” was not a specific quota for
race, the law school just want to create classes that
were qualified and also diverse.
Fisher v University of Texas (2016)
(White, application, denied)
• Abigail Fisher, a white female, applied for
admission to the University of Texas but was
• She did not qualify for Texas' Top Ten Percent Plan,
which guarantees admission to the top ten percent
of every in-state graduating high school class.
• For the remaining spots, the university considers
many factors, including race.
• Fisher sued the University and argued that the use
of race as a consideration in the admissions
process violated the Equal Protection Clause of the
• The district court held that the University’s
admissions process was constitutional, and the
Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed.
• The case went to the Supreme Court, which held
that the University of Texas’ use of race as a
consideration in the admissions process was
sufficiently narrowly tailored to the legitimate
interest of promoting educational diversity and
therefore satisfied strict scrutiny.
• The Supreme Court ruled 4-3 for the University of
Miranda v Arizona (1966)
(Uninformed, of, rights)
• On March 13, 1963, Phoenix Police arrested Ernesto
Miranda after evidence linked him to the
kidnapping and rape of a girl 10 days before.
• Miranda was interrogated for two hours, after which
he signed a confession.
• This man had only a ninth-grade education, and a
history of mental instability.
• The interrogation was conducted with no attorney
present, and no one to interpret the legalese of the
statement he signed.
• Nobody told Miranda that he had a right to an
attorney, that he had a right to remain silent, or that
anything he said during questioning could be used
against him at trial.
• At Miranda’s trial, prosecutors relied wholly on his
confession. Although his attorney objected,
arguing that Miranda’s involuntary confession
should be excluded from evidence, it was allowed.
The jury convicted Miranda of rape and
kidnapping, sentencing him to 20 to 30 years in
• The defence team filed an appeal to the Arizona
Supreme Court based on the fact that Miranda’s
confession was not voluntary and should have
been excluded from the criminal proceedings. The
court affirmed the lower court’s decision, stating
that Miranda did not request an attorney.
• Miranda’s attorneys then appealed the case to the
U.S. Supreme Court.
• The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the police
interrogation was coercive, and that the confession
could not be used as evidence at trial.
• The reasoning behind this was because the police
had not informed Miranda that he had a right to an
attorney, or that he had a right to not make
statements that would incriminate himself, thus
violating Miranda’s constitutional rights (5th and 6th
• Miranda’s conviction was overturned, and a new
Obergefell v. Hodges (2015)
(Same-sex, death, certificate)
• Who is John Obergefell? = The devoted couple
were together for two decades and travelled to
Maryland to officially marry in 2013, with Arthur having
been diagnosed with ALS. After his husband's death,
Obergefell entered a legal battle with the state of Ohio
to be recognised as the surviving spouse on Arthur's
• When was the case? = 26th of June 2015.
• It is a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme
Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental
right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by
both the Due Process Clause and the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to
the United States Constitution.
• The ruling meant that all fifty states must lawfully
perform and recognise the marriages of same-sex
couples on the same terms and conditions as the
marriages of opposite-sex couples, with all the
accompanying rights and responsibilities.
• The Supreme Court ruled for Obergefell when the
vote was 5 – 4 to Obergefell.
Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
(For, Brown, unconstitutional)
• Oliver Brown was an African American, who filled a
lawsuit in 1951 when his daughter was denied entry to
the Topeka all-white elementary school in Topeka,
which is in Kansas.
• He believed it violated the Fourteenth amendment.
• At first the judges were divided because Chief
Justice Fred M. Vinson was saying that the Plessy V.
Ferguson verdict should stand.
• However, Vinson died and so the Supreme Court
ruled for change and Brown.
• On May the 17th in 1954 the Chief Justice changed to
Chief Justice Earl Warren and the Supreme Court
voted unanimously for Brown.
• The Court stated that state sanctions of segregation
for public schools was a violation to the Fourteenth
amendment and unconstitutional.
• It fuelled the Nascent Civil Rights movement in the
Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
(Unsuccessfully, sued, freedom)
• Dred Scott was an African American man, who
unsuccessfully sued for his freedom and the
freedom of his wife and two daughters.
• Dred Scott was a slave who sought his freedom
through the American legal system.
• The 1857 decision by the United States Supreme
Court in the Dred Scott case denied his plea,
determining that no Negro/African American slave,
the term then used to describe anyone with African
blood, was or could ever be a citizen.
• The Supreme Court decision Dred Scott v.
Sandford was issued on March 6, 1857. Delivered
by Chief Justice Roger Taney, this opinion declared
that slaves were not citizens of the United States
and could not sue in Federal courts.
• In Dred Scott v. Sandford (argued 1856 -- decided
1857), the Supreme Court ruled that Americans of
African descent, whether free or slave, were not
American citizens and could not sue in federal
court. The Court also ruled that Congress lacked
power to ban slavery in the U.S. territories.
• This case intensified national divisions over slavery
and Sandford won.
Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
("Separate but equal.")
• Homer Plessy, whose one act of civil disobedience
helped inspire future generations of the Civil Rights
• He challenged Louisiana segregation legislation by
refusing to move from a "whites only" rail car in
• He was arrested and tried and because of this he
appealed to the Supreme Court however, he lost
because of the “separate but equal clause.”
• The U.S. Supreme Court, on May 18, 1896, by a
seven-to-one majority (one justice did not
participate) to Ferguson, advanced the
controversial “separate but equal” doctrine for
assessing the constitutionality of racial segregation
• Plessy v. Ferguson was a landmark decision of the
U.S. Supreme Court issued in 1896. It upheld the
constitutionality of racial segregation laws for public
facilities as long as the segregated facilities were
equal in quality, a doctrine that came to be known
as "separate but equal".
• The court assessed this case using the fourteenth
amendment and found that although, the
amendment didn’t specifically state the “separate
but equal” clause, it still constitutionally allowed
racially segregated laws if the public facilities were
equal for both groups.
• The Supreme Court ignored Plessy when he
argued that the racial segregation went against the
thirteenth amendment, which was prohibition of
Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (2016)
(Undue, Burden, Unconstitutional)
• Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt (2016), is a
landmark United States Supreme Court case
decided on June 27, 2016.
• The Court ruled 5–3 for Whole Woman’s Health, so
that Texas cannot place restrictions on the delivery
of abortion services that create an undue burden
for women seeking an abortion because they ruled
that the undue burden was unconstitutional.
• Whole Woman’s Health was the name of a group of
petitioners, who sued Texas, seeking to invalidate
the provisions from the abortion bill passed in
• The petitioners said that the 2013 provisions from
the abortions bill violated the fourteenth
amendment by putting an undue burden on the
United States v. Windsor (2013)
(DOMA, unqualified, refund)
• The Defence of Marriage Act (DOMA), enacted in
1996, states that, for the purposes of federal law,
the words "marriage" and "spouse" refer to legal
unions between one man and one woman.
• Since that time, some states have authorised same-
• In other cases regarding the DOMA, federal courts
have ruled it unconstitutional under the Fifth
Amendment, but the courts have disagreed on the
• Edith Windsor is the widow and sole executor of
the estate of her late spouse, Thea Clara Spyer,
who died in 2009. The two were married in
Toronto, Canada, in 2007, and their marriage was
recognised by New York state law.
• Thea Spyer left her estate to her spouse, and
because their marriage was not recognised by
federal law, the government imposed $363,000 in
• Had their marriage been recognised, the estate
would have qualified for a marital exemption, and
no taxes would have been imposed. (unqualified)
• Edith Windsor and Thea Clara Spyer were a same
sex couple who got married in Canada. Spyer died,
Windsor didn't get benefits according to DOMA,
didn't get marital tax exemption. Claimed that
DOMA was violating the Equal Protection Clause of
the first amendment. Ruled 5-4 for Windsor, she got
McConnell vs FEC (2003)
(Upheld, Constitutionality, BCRA)
• McConnell v. Federal Election Commission 2003 is
a case in which the United States Supreme Court
upheld the constitutionality of most of the
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), often
referred to as the McCain–Feingold Act.
• It was partially overruled by Citizens United v. FEC
• 5 – 4 decision for the Federal Electoral
• The Act banned soft money and the use of
advertising to benefit a certain candidate.
• The Court did overturn the BCRA’s restriction on
minors under the age of 18 giving donations to
Party candidates because they believed that
restrictions were violating the first amendment.
Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (2014)
(Religion, sued, Sebelius)
• The Green family owns and operates Hobby Lobby
Stores, Inc., a national arts and crafts chain with
over 500 stores and over 13,000 employees.
• The Green family has organised the business
around the principles of the Christian faith and has
explicitly expressed the desire to run the company
according to Biblical precepts (religion), one of
which is the belief that the use of contraception is
• Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care
Act (ACA), employment-based group health care
plans must provide certain types of preventative
care, such as FDA-approved contraceptive
• While there are exemptions available for religious
employers and non-profit religious institutions,
there are no exemptions available for for-profit
institutions such as Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc.
• On September 12, 2012, the Greens, as
representatives of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., sued
Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the Department
of Health and Human Services, and challenged the
• The plaintiffs argued that the requirement that the
employment-based group health care plan cover
contraception violated the Free Exercise Clause of
the First Amendment and the Religious Freedom
Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA).
• The plaintiffs sought a preliminary injunction to
prevent the enforcement of tax penalties, which the
district court denied and a two-judge panel of the
U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit affirmed.
The Supreme Court also denied relief, and the
plaintiffs filed for an en banc hearing of the Court of
Appeals. The en banc panel of the Court of
Appeals reversed and held that corporations were
"persons" for the purposes of RFRA and had
protected rights under the Free Exercise Clause of
the First Amendment.
• The Supreme Court ruling was 5 – 4 to Hobby
Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
(Habeas, Corpus, Petition)
• Clarence Earl Gideon was charged in Florida state
court with a felony: having broken into and entered a
poolroom with the intent to commit a misdemeanour
• When he appeared in court without a lawyer, Gideon
requested that the court appoint one for him.
• According to Florida state law, however, an attorney
may only be appointed to an indigent defendant in
capital cases, so the trial court did not appoint one.
• Gideon represented himself in trial. He was found
guilty and sentenced to five years in prison.
• Gideon filed a habeas corpus petition in the Florida
Supreme Court and argued that the trial court's
decision violated his constitutional right to be
represented by counsel (sixth amendment).
• The Florida Supreme Court denied habeas corpus
• The Supreme Court made a unanimous decision and
ruled for Gideon.
• Yes. Justice Hugo L. Black delivered the opinion of
the 9-0 majority.
• The Supreme Court held that the framers of the
Constitution placed a high value on the right of the a
accused to have the means to put up a proper
defence, and the state as well as federal courts must
respect that right.
• The Court held that it was consistent with the
Constitution to require state courts to appoint
attorneys for defendants who could not afford to
retain counsel on their own.
New York Times v. Sullivan (1964)
(Freedom, "Actual, Malice")
• This lesson focuses on the 1964 landmark freedom
of the press case New York Times v. Sullivan. The
Court held that the First Amendment protects
newspapers even when they print false
statements, as long as the newspapers did not act
with “actual malice.”
• It was 1960 and the Civil Rights Movement was
• Civil rights leaders ran a full-page ad in the New
York Times to raise funds to help civil rights leaders,
including Martin Luther King, Jr. sixty well-known
Americans signed it. The ad described what it
called “an unprecedented wave of terror” of police
actions against peaceful demonstrators in
Montgomery, Alabama. What it described was
mostly accurate, but some of the charges in the ad
were not true. For example, the ad said that police
“ringed” a college campus where protesters were,
but this charge was exaggerated. The ad also
contained the false statement: “When the entire
student body protested to state authorities by
refusing to re-register, their dining hall was
padlocked in an attempt to starve them into
• L.B. Sullivan was one of three people in charge of
police in Montgomery. He sued the New York
Times for libel (printing something they knew was
false and would cause harm). The ad did not
mention Sullivan’s name.
• But Sullivan claimed that the ad implied his
responsibility for the actions of the police. He said
that the ad damaged his reputation in the
• In the Alabama court, Sullivan won his case and the
New York Times was ordered to pay $500,000 in
• The Times appealed the decision to the United
States Supreme Court. The newspaper argued that
it had no intention of hurting L.B. Sullivan.
• The newspaper had no reason to believe that the
advertisement included false statements, so it did
not check their accuracy. The Times argued that if a
newspaper had to check the accuracy of every
criticism of every public official, a free press would
be severely limited.
• In a unanimous decision, the United States
Supreme Court ruled in favour of the New York
• In order to prove libel, a “public official” must show
that the newspaper acted “with ‘actual malice’–that
is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless
disregard” for truth.
• The Court asserted America’s “profound national
commitment to the principle that debate on public
issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-
open.” Free and open debate about the conduct of
public officials, the Court reasoned, was more
important than occasional, honest factual errors
that might hurt or damage officials’ reputations.
King v. Burwell (2015)
(ACA, Exception, Sued)
• In 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act
(ACA) to increase the number of Americans
covered by health insurance and decrease the cost
of health care.
• The ACA required each state to establish an
"exchange" through which people could purchase
health care coverage, and if a state elected not to
do so, the federal government would establish one
through the Secretary of Health and Human
• The ACA also required people to obtain the
minimum essential coverage or pay a tax penalty
unless they fell within an unaffordability exemption
for low-income individuals.
• To limit the number of people that would fall into
such an exemption, the ACA provided for tax
credits that are calculated based on the health plan
in which an individual enrols through the exchange.
• Although the legislative language of the ACA
pertaining to the tax credits only referred to the
exchanges established by the states, the Internal
Revenue Service (IRS) created a regulation that
made the tax credits available to those enrolled in
plans through federal as well as state exchanges.
• The Supreme Court ruling was 6 – 3 for Burwell.
• Virginia declined to establish a state-run exchange
and has one operated by the federal government.
• The plaintiffs are a group of Virginia residents who,
without the tax credits, would fall under the
unaffordability exception and be exempt from
having to purchase health insurance.
• They sued and argued that the IRS regulation
exceeded the agency's statutory authority, is
arbitrary and capricious, and is contrary to the law
in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.
• Yes. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. delivered the
opinion for the 6-3 majority. The Court held that
Congress did not delegate the authority to
determine whether the tax credits are available
through both state-created and federally created
exchanges to the Internal Revenue Service, but the
language of the statute clearly indicates that
Congress intended the tax credits to be available
through both types of exchanges.
• When the plain language of the section in question
is considered in the context of the statute as a
whole, it is evident that the federally-created
exchanges are not meaningfully different from
those the states created, and therefore federally-
created exchanges are not excluded from the
language referring to exchanges created by the
states. This reading is also in line with the
Congressional intent of covering as many qualified
individuals as possible, as the alternative would
mean that federally-created exchanges do not
contain qualified individuals and operate entirely
differently from the state-created ones.
United States v. Nixon (1974)
("Executive, privilege", Unqualified)
• A grand jury returned indictments against seven of
President Richard Nixon's closest aides in the
• The special prosecutor appointed by Nixon and the
defendants sought audio tapes of conversations r
recorded by Nixon in the Oval Office.
• Nixon asserted that he was immune from the
subpoena claiming "executive privilege," which is
the right to withhold information from other
government branches to preserve confidential
communications within the executive branch or to
secure the national interest. Decided together with
Nixon v. United States.
• No. The Court held that neither the doctrine of
separation of powers, nor the generalised need for
confidentiality of high-level communications, without
more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified,
• The Court granted that there was a limited
executive privilege in areas of military or diplomatic
affairs, but gave preference to "the fundamental
demands of due process of law in the fair
administration of justice."
• Therefore, the president must obey the subpoena
and produce the tapes and documents. Nixon
resigned shortly after the release of the tapes.
• The Supreme Court ruling was unanimous for the
United States and Nixon had to give up the tapes.
• The Executive privileges aren’t shown in the
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
(Commission, cancelled, claim)
• In the last days of President John Adams’
presidency, he nominated a number of people to
serve as justices of the peace for the District of
• The Senate confirmed the nominations, and the
commissions were prepared. President Adams’
Secretary of State, John Marshall, did not deliver
all of the commissions before President Thomas
Jefferson took office.
• President Jefferson then ordered his Secretary of
State, James Madison, not to deliver the
• The plaintiffs, men whose commissions were not
delivered, sued Madison in the Supreme Court and
argued that, in refusing to deliver the
the Secretary of State was neglecting his
• Unanimous decision for Marbury.
• Though Marbury was entitled to it, the Court was
unable to grant it because Section 13 of the
Judiciary Act of 1789 conflicted with Article III
Section 2 of the U.S. Constitution and was
therefore null and void.
• Yes, yes, no. Chief Justice John Marshall delivered
the unanimous opinion.
• The Supreme Court held that the Constitution
grants the president the power to appoint and
commission officers of the United States. Because
the only evidence of the appointment is the
commission, the two actions are tied together.
• Without the commission, the appointment is not
complete, and so the president’s signature on the
commission is the final step in the appointment
• The Court also held that, upon appointment, the
officers have acquired rights to their positions
under the law.
• If those rights are denied, then they may seek
redress in the courts.
• Marbury and others sought an original action for
their commissions in the Supreme Court.
• But the congressional act conferring that authority
conflicts with Article III Section 2 of the
The judicial power in the United States extends to
all cases under the Constitution and the Supreme
Court is bound to decide cases according to the
Constitution rather than the law when the two
• So if a law is found to be in conflict with the
Constitution, then the law is invalid.
• In this case, Section 13 of the Judiciary Act ran
counter to the Constitution and is therefore void.
Thus, lacking authority, the Supreme Court
cancelled Marbury's claim.