Supreme Court Insights

Article III of the United States Constitution established the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. Throughout the nation's history, the justices who served on this court have written decisions that changed the lives of many - and shaped the U.S. legal system. FindLaw's Supreme Court Insights is here to help everyone understand the court's most famous and impactful decisions. 

Articles

  • Griswold v. Connecticut Case Summary

    An important case in its own right that gave all Americans access to birth control, Griswold v. Connecticut also helped establish the "right to privacy" line of cases that includes Lawrence v. Texas, Roe v. Wade, and others. 

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  • McGirt v. Oklahoma Case Summary

    In 2020, the Supreme Court held in McGirt v. Oklahoma that crimes committed by Native persons on reservation land must be prosecuted by federal or tribal authorities. But it also acknowledged that much of the eastern half of Oklahoma is still, from a legal standpoint, reservation land. 

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  • Loving v. Virginia Case Summary

    In one of the most celebrated and notable decisions in U.S. Supreme Court history, Loving v. Virginia finally ended all state bans on interracial marriage. 

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  • New York Times v. Sullivan History & Case Summary

    In a unanimous decision written by Justice William Brennan, Jr., the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the New York Times - finding that public figures face a higher standard for proving libel (a type of defamation). Times v. Sullivan is widely seen as one of the most important Supreme Court decisions of the 20th century and an essential pillar of protection for the free press.

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  • Bostock v. Clayton County Case Summary

    The Supreme Court's 2020 decision in Bostock v. Clayton County found that the plain language of the statute prohibited discrimination against LGBTQ workers.

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  • Baker v. Carr: The Political Question Doctrine

    The federal judiciary is, by design, intended to be the least political branch of the U.S. government. While federal courts cannot help but wade into political matters with regularity, if courts consider a case to be centered on a "political question," it will not take up the case. This is known as the political question or justiciability doctrine.

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  • Student First Amendment Rights: Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier Case Summary

    In 1988, the United States Supreme Court placed a limit on the types of speech protected by the First Amendment in a school setting. The case, Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier, began with student journalists looking to push the envelope with articles they believed their classmates would relate to. And it ended with the Supreme Court creating a new rule on student speech, instead of applying the rule created twenty years earlier.

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  • Sentencing Guidelines Under Blakely v. Washington

    In 2004, the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington raised questions about sentencing guidelines all over the United States. Judges used these guidelines to determine the proper sentence for various crimes. But even though many state legislatures had given judges the right to go outside the guidelines in certain types of cases, the Supreme Court held this practice went against a defendant's constitutional rights.

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  • McCulloch v. Maryland Case Summary: What You Need to Know

    McCulloch v. Maryland was the first, and probably the most important, Supreme Court decision addressing federal power. In this case, the justices held that the federal government has implied or "unenumerated" powers under Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. That section is now known as the "necessary and proper" clause.

    The Supreme Court established that congressional power extends beyond the scope of the Constitution and that state governments cannot interfere with the federal government. In doing so, the justices defined the scope of Congressional power and clarified the relationship between state and federal government.

    It all started when Alexander Hamilton convinced Congress to establish a national bank.

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  • Brandenburg v. Ohio: Permissible Restrictions on Violent Speech

    Brandenburg v. United States established the test courts use to determine when the First Amendment protects incendiary speech. 

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