Top Ten Landmark Supreme Court Cases
In order of importance and frequency of appearance on AP exams.
* indicates the 15 cases that are Required for the AP Government course redesign.
Marbury v Madison, 1803*
McCulloch v Maryland, 1819*
Brown v Board of Education, 1954*
Gideon v Wainwright, 1963*
Roe v Wade, 1973*
United States v Lopez, 1995*
Baker v Carr, 1961*
Engel v Vitale, 1962*
Wisconsin v Yoder, 1972*
Schenck v United States, 1919*
McDonald v Chicago, 2010*
Shaw v Reno, 1993*
Texas v Johnson, 1989
Buckley v Valeo, 1976
Plessy v Ferguson, 1896
Gitlow v New York, 1925
Mapp v Ohio, 1961
Miranda v Arizona, 1966
Dred Scott v Samford, 1857
Miller v California, 1973
Gibbons v Ogden, 1824
Lemon v Kurtzman, 1973
US v Nixon, 1974
Reynolds v Sims, 1964
Terry v Ohio, 1968
Bush v Gore, 2000
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.
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.
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