Important Supreme Court Cases
120 points, due May 8
What Supreme Court decisions have shaped our nation?
What made them so important?
How do they relate to the Constitution?
The Supreme Court, 1925
The United States Constitution is not just a document from another time. It connects to us, today. This is why it is often referred to as 'The Living Constitution'. The Judicial Branch interprets questions of Constitutionality. There are hundreds of rules in the Constitution, but understanding just what those mean to you and me in our everyday lives can take quite a bit of work. In this unit we are going to explore a few of the cases that affect us the most.
Students will create and share a class lesson about the Supreme Court case they choose. Presentations will be assessed according to the rubric attached at the bottom of this page.
Select a partner or two.
Select a case - one case may only be done once per period.
Create your presentation and share it with the class.
NOTE >> I'm well aware many, if not most of you, will want to create a Google or PowerPoint presentation, and that's fine. However, you may select the format of your choice.
You will need to create a lesson - about 15 minutes long - that includes the following:
Marbury v. Madison, Judicial Review
McCulloch v. Maryland, Federal Supremacy
Scott v. Sandford, Slavery before the Civil War
Plessy v. Ferguson, Separate but equal treatment for blacks
Brown v. The Board of Education, School segregation is becomes illegal
Miranda v. Arizona, The right to be informed of your right to counsel
Mapp v. Ohio, Material obtained in unlawful searches cannot be used in court
Tinker v. Des Moines, What are students' rights to self-expression and protest?
New Jersey v. T.L.O., What is reasonable suspicion in public schools?
Terry v. Ohio, What may, or may not, an officer search on a person, when the officer does not have a warrant?
Gideon v. Wainwright, What are the legal rights to an attorney?
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, What right does a school have to censor a publication?
First Hour Lessons
Terry v. Ohio, Autumn, Cody
The case of Terry V. Ohio is where an officer undercover saw 3 men walking around and had a “hunch” and went over and patted them down. He found weapons on two of the men and took them all into court.During court they questions the officer asking if he had a warrant and he said no. The other question was “Is this in volation of the fourth amendment?”. The answer is no because it was securing the safety of the people of Ohio.
New Jersey v. TLO. Jocelynn, Addie, Megan
There was a student named T.L.O who was smoking in a school bathroom with her friend. A teacher came in, and even though they had stopped by the time she came in, she could smell the smoke. She took them both to the principal's office. When asked if they had been smoking, T.L.O said no, but her friend confessed. Her friend was allowed to leave. T.L.O was again questioned and she said no, so the principal searched her purse. He found the cigarettes, but he also found cigar wrappers. Thinking that she might have stuff to wrap, he continued to search. He found marijuana, a pipe, cash, and a list of students who owed her money. Her mom came and got her, and drove her down where she confessed to dealing marijuana. T.L.O also said that the principle searching her purse was in violation of her rights in the fourth amendment. The main questions in the trial was, “Did the principal have the right to search T.L.O’s purse.?”, and “to the Juvenile Court decide if T.L.O. had knowingly and voluntarily waived her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before confessing?”(http://www.uscourts.gov/educational-resources/educational-activities/facts-and-case-summary-new-jersey-v-tlo)
In the end however, they reached the agreement that there was no violation of the fourth amendment, and that school officials do have a right to and unwarranted search in certain circumstances if they have reason to believe a crime has, is, or will be committed.
Texas v. Johnson, Ryan, Lincoln, Cloe
In June 21, 1989, the Republican National Convention was being held in Dallas, Texas. There, Gary Lee Johnson and some Protesters burned a flag while yelling "America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you." No one was hurt physically, but a lot of people were injured in the emotion. The people working in the nearby hospital’s feelings department had to work overtime. Johnson was arrested and charged with the desecration of a venerated object. He was convicted, sentenced to a year in prison, and received a fine of $2,000. Johnson took his case to the Texas Court of Appeals, which overturned the judgement saying that the flag burning was protected by the First Amendment. The State of Texas filed a petition for a writ of certiorari and, in 1988, the Supreme Court of the United States agreed to hear the case. In 1989, the Court handed down its decision, a 5-4 vote in Johnson’s favor.
Miranda v. Arizona, Andrea, Holly, Preslee
In this case Miranda was convicted of kidnapping and rape. The police did not inform him of his rights prior to his interrogation. During the interrogation, Miranda confessed to the crime. They went to court and they used his confession as evidence. Miranda then sid that this was unconstitutional and that they couldn't us his confession against him because he was not informed that he did not have to talk during the interrogation. The court said that it was not and he was still convinced. Then he took it to the supreme court and they ruled it as a detained criminal.
Plessy v. Ferguson, Avree, Jake
The Plessy V. Ferguson case all started when Luisiana made a new law. This law was called “The Separate Car Act”. This act made it so colored people had to sit in different accommodations than white people. If this Act was violated it would result in a $25 fine or 20 days in jail. The white people had one car while the colored people had another. This was to create separation but equality (They were really good at separation but not equality). One group of colored people didn’t like this and decided to do something about it. This group sent out Homer Plessy who was ⅛ black. Plessy purchased a ticket for a white person’s car. After the ride in the specified car Plessy got out to see the Police waiting for him. Homer Plessy got arrested and taken to court where he was found guilty. In the case the Judge even said it was unconstitutional but still stands. Plessy argued that it violated both the XIII and XIVth amendments. After being convicted though Plessy decided to appeal it to the Supreme State Court. He lost there as well, but this didn’t discourage him. Homer Plessy took his case all the way up to the Supreme Court and appealed again. They made a compromise with him. They said that the ‘Separate Car Act’ was still constitutional but had to be modified. They said they would make sure that the different cars were still separate but this time they would be equal. Despite the modifications, Plessy still had to pay the fine or go to jail.
McCulloch v. Maryland, Jakob, AJ, Daniel
In this specific case it was about the state of Maryland taxing a federal bank. The tax was about 15,000 a year. Mr. McCulloch didn't want to have to pay it so he took it to court. The court eventually found in favor of the defendant. McCulloch claimed that the tax violated article 1 section 8 clause 18.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, Brian, Sergio
Hazelwood VS Kuhlmeier is a case about students feeling violated because their principal took out 2 pages of a school newspaper because it talked about a student's parents divorce. So the students went to court saying it was a violation of the 1st amendment. So then after the lower court decision the court said it was not a violation of the 1st amendment. So the students asked for an appeal. Then the court of appeal says that the students First amendments rights were violated. So then the supreme court repeals the decision of the court of appeal saying it was not a violation of the students rights. Then the court explains why it wasn't a violation saying that sense it was a school newspaper it could be edited if it makes it unsafe or not school appropriate. School newspapers NEED to be approved by a principle and the principal has the rights to change things if necessary
Tinker v. Des Moines, Kylie
Tinker v. Des Moines was about two kids, the Tinkers, and their friend, hereby referred to as Evans, because that’s his last name, wore black armbands to school to protest the American help in the Vietnam War. The teachers, finding out about their plan, sought out a way to stop it, by creating a policy against armbands. The Tinkers and Evans wore their armbands anyways. That started something.
The teachers suspended the kids, and they came back to school without armbands, January 1, 1966, that date scheduled for the end of their protest. Their fathers were not happy, and so they filed suit against the school. Their case went to court, and they decided to go against the Tinkers and Mr. Evans, ut they appealed, and THAT court ruled the same way. They ended up in Supreme court, and they decided in favor of...the Tinkers, that wearing the armbands was okay, ad making a rule against them was a violation of the first amendment, the right to have freedom of speech and expression.
Second Hour Lessons
New Jersey v. TLO, Sirena, Charli
Choplick, the vice principal of the school, searched through TLO's bag after she and another girl were found smoking in the bathroom. Choplick searched TLO's purse without permission but probable cause and found proof that she was selling marijuana. She was taken in by the police station. The juvenile court found the search reasonable, but she appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which found the search unreasonable. The state juvenile court appealed to the Federal Supreme Court where the decision was officially made that the search was reasonable.
This trial was important because it confirms that teachers are protected when they search students with probable cause. Teachers can keep searching and keep the school safe instead of being scared of arrest.
Mapp v. Ohio, Sam, Adrian
So basically this case is about a bombing that happened in Cleveland, Ohio. The police officers on the case got an anonymous tip that the assailant was hiding in the house of Dollree Mapp. Three officers went to her house and asked if they could look around her house. She asked them if they had a search warrant and they said no so she did not allow them in. they returned with a fake warrant and knocked on her door. When she did not answer they kicked down her door and searched the house when she arrived she demanded to see the warrant and when they showed it to her she took it and then they arrested her for belligerence and the continued to search her house. They found a trunk of obscene pictures in the basement, found evidence that she helped in the bombing and they found the bomber. Then she went to court and was found innocent.
Miranda v. Arizona, Will, Billy
What happened was Ernesto Miranda was charged kidnap, rape, and armed robbery. He was taken into custody and confessed to the crimes. He was not informed of his rights, and his attorney pleaded that his confession wasn’t fair and that it should be thrown out of the case. Miranda didn’t know he didn’t have to confess to the crime.
The main thing was should we count the confession in the case? Miranda wasn’t informed of his rights when he was interrogated, so it shouldn’t count in a court of law. The court did comply with the attorney’s plea, and threw out the confession. Even with the confession out, there was loads and loads of other evidence toward his and was still sentenced to 20-30 years in prison.
The case applies to us because it shows that we don’t have to comply to an interrogation and don’t have to answer any questions that are asked unless we want to. Also the right to an attorney. The attorney wasn’t with Miranda during the interrogation. Those are called the Miranda rights. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you can’t afford one, one will be appointed to you.
Scott v. Sandfrord, Eli, Eli, Ray
Dred scott was a slave who worked for a John Emerson, who was a surgeon with the US army. When emerson died, Scott and his family were left to Emerson’s wife. After years of labor, Scott sought to buy his freedom and that of his family from Sanford, but she declined. Afterwards, Scott sued Sanford claiming that he was a free man because he had lived in a free state. The supreme court decided that he was not free because he was not a citizen of that state, and therefore had no jurisdiction. THE END
Marbury v. Madison, Kaylie, Kaigan
Tinder v. Des Moines, Cathan, Indi
The Tinker vs Des Moines was a great case it show that kids can stand up for themselves and they can also work together as one to get to there goals in life and if they work hard they can do anything and complete anything. It even shows that they can fight for themselves. They don't alway need a grown ups help they can do stuff on there own if they work hard enough and if they just don't give up and keep fighting they can get there sooner or later if they just keep working.
Gideon v. Wainwright, Max, Ryan
A man with the last name of Gideon was accused of stealing a pint of alcohol. He went to the Florida 14 circuit court. He was a poor man and could not afford a lawyer. He requested a lawyer to represent him that would be given by the state. The court denied him a lawyer, and he had to defend himself, which ended up in him poorly defending himself and getting found guilty. He went to jail, and studied law and the constitution, and found out that Florida denying him a lawyer was a violation of the sixth amendment. He wrote a letter to the U.S supreme court to have another trial. He got appealed to the Florida Supreme court, and then appealed to the U.S Supreme Court, who unanimously voted in his favor that said that he deserved a lawyer. Former Florida law said that a person would only get a lawyer if it was a murder case. But as we saw, that got repealed because it was a violation of the sixth amendment. This case still applies to Americans today because if people need a lawyer provided from the state because they don’t have enough money or resources, they will be provided one. This will give people going into court a lot more confidence.
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, Ethan, Emily, Hannah
Students they were participating in a journalism class from Hazelwood East High School wrote a school newspaper that contained relatively sensitive articles on divorce and teen pregnancy. Upon seeing these couple pages, the school’s principal deemed the articles inappropriate and decided to remove them just short of the publication date. The students that wrote the articles felt that their first amendment rights had been violated. So, they took the appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The appeals court reversed the lower court. This happened upon them deciding that it was a “public forum” and the principal had no right to remove the pages, as it was not an extreme circumstance.
The final decision was made. A 5-3 decision was handed down by the Supreme Court. This decision highly favored the school. In the end, the school won the case. Americans today feel that the case was justified. Rights and entitlement to them must be flexible sometimes. The Amendments do not protect us from everything
Brown v. The Board, Hunter
The case of school segregation laws being outlawed was filed on February 1951 in Topeka, Kansas. The reason the case was filed was due to the fact that black people didn’t want their children walking to school very far away from home when there was just a school close to their homes. The reason for this was because people thought that black kids and white kids should be separated back then.
A man named Oliver Brown (who is the plaintiff) shared his own story about his daughter. He said that his daugther would have to take a bus to school everyday to go to a school several blocks away from home. She could’ve just taken a bus that goes to a white school that is only a couple blocks away.
Later the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) said that under the 14th amendment segregation laws are illegal. After a while, other people fought it and said that there is nothing in the constitution that says that segregation is illegal.
In 1955 people then started to say that segregation should be outlawed. It took a long time, but finally by 1970 all schools did not have segregation. So, in conclusion the brown case didn’t really stop segregation laws, but it got people thinking that maybe school segregation wasn’t good. Even though it didn’t stop school segregation because of the Brown case people eventually decided that school segregation should be outlawed.
Fourth Hour Lessons
Brown v. The Board, Addie, Kate
Linda Brown was a regular little girl but she was limited the option of going to a regular school because she was black. Linda had to drive miles away to go to an all black school when there was just a normal school right around the block from her house. Linda’s dad and other parents decided to go to the court to settle things out a little and make things even for everyone. The case was taken to court and Linda’s dad argued that separation is not equal and therefore going against the 14th amendment. The case was resolved and linda was able to go to school with all the kids in her town.
New Jersey v. TLO, Riker, Will
The case that we did was T.L.O v.s New Jersey. The case started in a high school girls bathroom in New Jersey. Two girls including T.L.O were smoking in the bathroom and a teacher walked out and asked them if they were smoking, and they said ”no.” The teacher had a suspicion about the girls and sent them to the office. In the office the vice principal asked the girls if they were smoking. T.L.O said no and the other girl confessed to smoking, so she was pretty much out of the case. And that is what started the important case. The case started in the juvenile court of New Jersey.
The case started in the juvenile court of New Jersey.(1982) In this she was held a delinquent on the basis of evidence from the search of her purse and her confession. And she was sentenced to one year of probation. After this it moved to the appellate division of New Jersey.(1982) In the place T.L.O appealed her conviction. And the appellate of New Jersey finds no violation to the fourth amendment. Then it went farther to the supreme court of New Jersey.(1983). And T.L.O appeals the Appellate Division's fourth amendment ruling to the supreme court of New Jersey. Then the farthest it went was moved to the Supreme Court of United States.(1985). Then the supreme court reversed the New Jersey's court ruling, holding that searches by school officials are constitutional without a warrant if it is reasonable. And it doesn't say what happened after that.
Some of the fundamental question in this case was did the principal have the right to search T.L.O’s purse. At the first two courts they said no, but at the last court they said he could because it was a reasonable cause. And schools are like a home and the teachers are like your parents, so they have the right to keep you and the others safe.
The court decided to say that the principal had the right to search the purse because it was a reasonable cause. It never says what happened to T.L.O after the verdict.
This case was so important to America, because it made it so schools could do searches if they have a reasonable cause.
This case started in a bathroom these two girls were smoking and one confessed T.L.O did not so she went to the juvenile court of new jersey. Then went to a higher court than higher and in the end she got busted. THE END.
McCulloch v. Maryland, Cristina, Brooke' Lynn
Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, Charity, Naomi
In the Supreme Court case of Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, students in a journalism class were in charge of writing and editing the school newspaper. Some of the stories they wrote were inappropriate and the principal didn't like it. He said that the articles were not to be published. The students did not like this and claimed that the principal was taking away their rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
Their case was taken to court and found that the principal had indeed taken away the students rights. The case was then appealed and taken to the Supreme Court where they found that because the principal was in charge of the school and of the students, he could control what was in the school's newspaper and what wasn't.
Tinker v. Des Moines, Ellie, Shannon
Students were going to wear black armbands to school in protest to the vietnam war. The principal found out and said that anyone who wore them would be suspended. Students still wore them and the principal followed through. The parents of the students formed a lawsuit against the school because they were violating the students’ rights to free speech. They lost the lawsuit and it was taken to the court of appeals where they lost again. They took it to the supreme court and won. The court thought that the students’ rights should be protected and that “Students don’t shed their constitutional rights at the schoolhouse gates.”
Terry v. Ohio, Clara, Elizabeth
The case of Terry v. Ohio was about how a policeman , Martin McFadden, saw two men named John W. Terry and Richard Chilton while driving down the street. The policeman suspected them and followed them. The two men then joined another guy and all three of them were looking through shop windows suspiciously. They were all searched by the policeman. The policeman did an outer clothing search. The police officer searched the outside of their clothes and felt what felt like a gun. The police officer then had probable cause.
John W. Terry and Richard Chilton were found possessing guns. The Ohio court referred to the 4th Amendment which protects people from unreasonable searches. The case was hard to judge because it is hard to define what counts as an unreasonable search. In the end they decided the search was valid and the evidence found in the search was valid. They concluded that it was not an unreasonable search and declared the two men guilty. This case affected the ideas of what is considered a reasonable search.
United States v. Nixon, Nathan, Hilton
On June 17, 1974, some burglars were found and arrested at the Watergate building. They were some of President Nixon’s reelection campaign who trying to steal some confidential documents and wiretap the phones. After they were caught, Nixon tried to cover up the whole incident, but failed. Some of his officers confessed of Nixon’s crimes, and that he had secretly been recording everything that occurred in the Oval Office. Everyone wondered whether or not Nixon was innocent. The prosecutors were eventually able to find the tapes that caused Nixon to be impeached. The month before Nixon’s impeachment trial, he resigned. His impeachment influenced the other impeachment trials by his resignation.
Gibbons v. Ogden, Hunter, Jared, Daniel
Did the lesson answer the areas listed in the special instructions?
Did the lesson engage the class members?
Was the written summary clear and easy to understand?
Click here for a printed copy of the assignment.
Here is a link to a very good website about some of the most important cases.
Here is a good link for information about Terry v. Ohio.
This is a good link for information about some important Supreme Court cases. It is hosted by the United States Government.