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AP Government Review #9: List of Major Court Cases 

Hey guys! I’m taking a break from studying Physics, so I thought I might as well whip out the major court cases you need to know for government. Yes, I’m doing this out of order. No, you can’t stop me. And if you’re wondering where that World History post is, I had to just walk away from it last night, because of problems. I will get it out tonight though! Anyways, there’s nothing really to say about this, so here we go:


  1. Marbury v. Madison: (1803) established judicial review, which strengthened the judicial branch’s power by giving the SCotUS the authority to declare Congressional Acts unconstitutional. (If you don’t know Marbury by now, I will personally pray for you on Tuesday)
  2. McCulloch v. Maryland (1819) confirmed Congress’s right to utilize implied powers to carry out expressed powers; validated national government’s supremacy by declaring that states can’t interfere or tax legit activities of the federal government
  3. Gibbons v. Ogden (1824) strengthened the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce and established the commerce clause’s role as a key vehicle of expansion of federal power

First Amendment: Free Speech:

  1. Gitlow v. New York(1925) established precedent for the doctrine of Selective Incorporation, thus extending most of the requirements of the Bill of Rights to the states
  2. Schenck v. US (1919) ruled that free speech could be limited when it presents a “clear and present danger;” established the “clear and present danger” test
  3. Texas v. Johnson(1989) ruled that flag burning is a form of symbolic speech protected by the 1st Amendment 
  4. Miller v. California(1973) Court listed a number of test for obscenity
  5. Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District(1969) protected some forms of symbolic speech; students were protesting the war by wearing black armbands, which the school attempted to stop; however, this was protected as students should not “shed their constitutional rights…at the schoolhouse gate”

First Amendment: Freedom of Religion:

  1. Lemon v. Kurtzman(1971) struck down state funding for private religious schools; state aid to church schools must be a)secular b)can’t advance/inhibit religion c)can’t vouch for religion
  2. Engel v. Vitale(1962) struck down state-sponsored prayer in public schools
  3. Wisconsin v. Yoder(1972) sided with the Amish parents’ decision to pull out their children from school after the 8th grade
  4. Reynolds v. US(1879) banned polygamy; distinguished between religious beliefs that are protected and religious practices that may be restricted

Campaign Finances:

  1. Citizens United v. FEC (2010) confirmed that the 1st Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures 
  2. Buckley v. Valeo (1976) upheld federal limits on campaign retributions and struct down a portion of the FEC Act, thus limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to their own campaign; ruled that spending money on one’s own campaign is a form of Constitutionally protected free speech (THIS WAS AN FRQ ONE YEAR)

Congressional Redistricting:

  1. Baker v. Carr(1962) ruled that the judicial branch can rule on matters of legislative apportionment; principle of “one person, one vote;” ordered state legislative districts to be as equal as possible
  2. Wesberry v. Sanders (1963) established “one person, one vote” in drawing Congressional districts; triggered widespread redistricting that gave cities and suburbs greater representation in Congress

Rights of the Accused:

  1. Wolf v. Colorado (1949) ruled that the 4th Amendment was applicable to the states through Due Process clause; exclusionary rule wasn’t
  2. Mapp v. Ohio (1961) extended the exclusionary rule; ruled over incorporation theory; the case came about because Mapp was suspected of having bombing and gambling equipment. They returned with a warrant, but they didn’t find anything they were looking for. Instead, they found pornographic material beside her bed; however, Mapp couldn’t be charged for that since they didn’t have a warrant to look for such things. 
  3. Gideon v. Wainwright(1963) ruled that the 6th Amendment applied to those accused of major crimes under state law; incorporation theory
  4. Miranda v. Arizona(1966) ruled that police must inform suspects of their constitutional rights before questioning suspects after arrest

Civil Rights:

  1. Dred Scott v. Sandford(1857) ruled that African Americans were not citizens; overturned by the 14th Amendment 
  2. Plessy v. Ferguson(1896) ruled that the “separate but equal” clause was constitutional in terms of public accomodations
  3. Brown v. the Board of Education (1954) ruled that racially segregated schools violated the Equal Protection Clause; reversed the “separate but equal” principle
  4. Bakke v. California(1978) ruled that the medical school’s strict quota system denied Bakke equal protection by the 14th Amendment

Right to Privacy:

  1. Roe v. Wade(1973) ruled that the decision to obtain an abortion is protected by the right to privacy implied by the Bill of Rights
  2. Griswold v. Connecticut(1965) set an important precedent to Roe v. Wade; ruled that a Connecticut law criminalizing the use of contraceptives violated the right to marital privacy

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    This is also super helpful for APUSH reviewing!! I recommend you study this! I’m going to post some youtube links that...
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