Top Ten Landmark Supreme Court Cases
In order of importance and frequency of appearance on AP exams.
* indicates the 19 cases that are part of the 2018 AP Government course redesign.
Marbury v Madison, 1803*
McCulloch v Maryland, 1819*
Brown v Board of Education I, 1954*
Plessy v Ferguson, 1896*
Gitlow v New York, 1925*
Mapp v Ohio, 1961
Gideon v Wainwright, 1963*
Miranda v Arizona, 1966
Roe v Wade, 1973*
United States v Lopez, 1995*
Baker v Carr, 1961*
Engel v Vitale, 1962*
Texas v Johnson, 1989
Buckley v Valeo, 1976*
Dred Scott v Samford, 1857
Miller v California, 1973
Wisconsin v Yoder, 1972*
Gibbons v Ogden, 1824
Lemon v Kurtzman, 1973
Schenck v United States, 1919*
US v Nixon, 1974
Reynolds v Sims, 1964
McDonald v Chicago, 2010*
Terry v Ohio, 1968
Bush v Gore, 2000
Shaw v Reno, 1993*
Loving v. Virginia, 1967
Griswold v Connecticut, 1965
Shelley v Kraemer, 1948
New Jersey v T.L.O., 1985
Reno v ACLU, 1997
Reynolds v US, 1879
Obergefell v. Hodges, 2015
Furman v Georgia, 1972
Gregg v Georgia, 1976
Although the AP GoPo exam does not require you to know court case dates, it is essential to be able to place each case into its political historical context.
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- Unit 1 - The Constitution
- Unit 2 - Political Culture
- Unit 3 - The Political Process
- Unit 4 - Part 1 - Congress
- Unit 4 - Part 2 - Presidency
- Unit 4 - Part 3 - Judiciary
- Unit 4 - Part 4 - Bureaucracy
- Unit 5 - Public Policy
- Unit 6 - Civil Rights & Liberties
- GoPo Pro - All the tests and reviews for Teachers
- Student GoPo Pro - Reviews & study guides for Students
The following important recent cases have not yet made the AP GoPo exam (give them time), but are well worth knowing.
Gonzales v Raich, 2005 (6-3 decision)
Upheld Commerce Clause regarding Controlled Substances Act
Boy Scouts v Dale, 2000 (5-4 decision)
Boy Scouts can discriminate against gay Boy Scouts.
Lawrence v. Texas, 2003 (6-3 decision)
Struck down state laws that prohibited sodomy between consenting adults.
District of Columbia v. Heller, 2008 (5-4 decision)
Citizens have a right to possess firearms at home for self-defense.
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 2012 (5-4 decision)
Upheld the mandate that most Americans have health insurance.
Shelby County v. Holder, 2013 (5-4 decision)
States and localities do not need federal approval to change voting laws.
United States v. Windsor, 2013 (5-4 decision)
Federal government must provide benefits to legally married same-sex couples.
Make a list of what you believe to be the top ten landmark Supreme Court Cases. Put them in chronological order.
Teams of 3 or 4
Make a timeline of the top ten events. Include a photograph or image that best summarizes each case.
Each student takes one of the cases from the list above. Work as a class to place all the cases onto a chronological timeline (you could do this on a chalkboard, whiteboard, large roll of paper, individual pieces of paper taped together). By vote, put a star next to the 10 cases that the majority thinks are the most important. Display your timeline on the wall, in the hall, online, or in some creative fashion.