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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. 


  • 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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  • New Jersey v. TLO Case Summary

    In New Jersey v. T.L.O., decided in 1985, the Supreme Court took up the issue of when school officials can search students' personal belongings. Do students have Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures by teachers and school staff? Or do students not have a reasonable expectation of privacy while in school?

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  • One of the Supreme Court's Biggest Mistakes: Korematsu v. United States

    It's important to remember that, sometimes, even the highest court in the land can get things wrong. And during World War II, the United States Supreme Court made a decision that would be widely criticized for decades to come: Korematsu v. United States. 

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  • Shaw v. Reno Case Summary: What You Need to Know

    In Shaw v. Reno, the Supreme Court held that a redistricting plan with bizarrely shaped districts may indicate racial gerrymandering.


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  • Is the Affordable Care Act Constitutional? What the Supreme Court Has Said So Far

    The Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or "Obamacare," has been at the center of many debates for over a decade. Two years after it was passed in Congress, the Supreme Court had to decide if it was valid under the Constitution in National Federation of Independent Businesses v. Sebelius

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  • Obergefell v. Hodges Case Summary and Significance

    The case that made same-sex marriage legal in all states, the issues at the center of Obergefell v. Hodges remain extremely relevant today. 

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