Landmark Supreme Court Cases USA


Brown v Board of education of Topeka (Warren Court) 1954

®    The Court ruled that state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality.

®    The Court's unanimous decision of 9-0 stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal," and therefore violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.

®    The decision did not make any amendments on how to end the racial segregation in schools but the second case in 1955 told the schools to desegregate "with all deliberate speed."

®    The case originated in 1951, when the public-school district in Topeka, Kansas, refused to enrol the daughter of local black resident Oliver Brown at the school closest to their home, instead requiring her to ride a bus to a segregated black elementary school farther away. The Browns and twelve other local black families in similar situations then filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. federal court against the Topeka Board of Education, saying that its segregation policy was unconstitutional.

®    A three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas rendered a verdict against the Browns, relying on the precedent of the Supreme Court's 1896 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, in which the Court had ruled that racial segregation was not in itself a violation of the Fourteenth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause if the facilities in question were otherwise equal, a doctrine that had come to be known as "separate but equal."

®    The Browns, then represented by NAACP chief counsel Thurgood Marshall, appealed to the Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. This case overruled Plessy v Ferguson partially


Miranda v Arizona (Warren Court) 1966

®    18-year-old kidnapped and the perp is arrested by the police

®    Police makes the perp to do a written conviction

®    5th amendment and 6th amendment = to not criminate yourself / right to an attorney

®    The fifth amendment was traditionally understood only to protect Americans against formal types of compulsion to confess, such as threats of contempt of court.

®    He was never told or understood the rights (also known as the Miranda rights) and therefore allowed another trial (appeal)

®    Decision was a 5-4 (won the case) and bought in the 14th amendment where the SC is allowed to bring in a lower bill of rights

®    1960’s attention on police methods due to civil rights years earlier and police manuals need to be informed about rights 

®    Spirit of the constitution violated due to it being in a loose constructionist and activist court where strict constructionists disagree with this as the constitution does not explicitly mention this

®    Public safety order (Boston bombing – not read rights until in hospital)

o   If you take stand, you can give evidence

o   Have to be


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