Supreme court cases: constitution is the supreme law of the land

Supreme court cases:
constitution is the supreme
law of the land
Analyze court cases that illustrate that the US Constitution is the supreme law of the land
Getting the Idea
 Powers of the Constitution were
challenged shortly after the US won
 Supreme Court under Chief Justice
John Marshall was called upon to
fulfill its duty to interpret the law
 At stake were the type of power the
Constitution had and the Supreme
Court’s right to declare laws & court
decisions unconstitutional
The Elastic Clause
 One of the means by which the Supreme Court was able
to interpret laws
 Found in Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution
 Give Congress the power to “make all laws which shall
be necessary and proper” for carrying out the powers &
purposes of the Constitution
 Named the elastic clause because it can be used to
stretch and expand the powers of Congress to fit
different situations
 Flexibility has made frequent amendments to the
Constitution unnecessary
 Has forced the court system to rely on open-ended
interpretations of the law
Marbury v. Madison
 Year: 1803
 Issue:
 William Marbury was a federal judge appointed by
President Adams shortly before he left office
 Marbury appealed to the court when President
Jefferson’s secretary of state James Madison refused
to accept his appointment
 The Decision:
 Constitution gave the Supreme Court power to decide
the case
 The Significance:
 Established the principle of judicial review
McCulloch v. Maryland
• Year: 1819
• Issue:
– State of Maryland taxed banks that issued notes without the
state’s consent
• The Decision:
– State couldn’t tax banks because they were federal institutions
• The Significance:
– Strengthened powers of the federal government
– Upheld doctrine of “implied powers”
– Affirmed the authority of federal powers over state powers
Gibbons v. Ogden
Year: 1824
– New York had granted a monopoly on steamboat transportation to Robert
Fulton & Robert Livingston – they granted a license to Aaron Ogden
– Charles Gibbons did not have a license and argued that he had the right to
navigate freely
The Decision:
– Struck down the monopoly as a violation of the rights of the federal
The Significance:
– Established the federal government’s right to regulate interstate commerce
– Affirmed the federal government’s regulatory power over certain actions of
the state and individuals
Plessy v. Ferguson
 Year: 1896
 Issue:
 Homer Plessy was an African American who
sat on a white’s only section of a train and was
 The Decision:
 Ruled that if public accommodations were
equal that the races could be separated
 The Significance:
 Upheld segregation laws
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
 Year: 1954
 Issue:
 African American girl not allowed to attend an allwhite school
 The Decision:
 Overturned the “separate but equal” doctrine
 The Significance:
 De-segregated schools
Heart of Atlanta Motel, Inc. v. U.S.
Year: 1964
– Motel refused to accept African American
– Tested the 1964 Civil Rights Act
The Decision:
– Court held that eh commerce clause allowed
Congress to regulate local commerce & that
the Civil Rights Act was constitutional
The Significance:
– Upheld the Civil Rights Act & power of the
federal government
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
Year: 1971
– School busing being used to de-segregate schools
The Decision:
– Ruled that NC school districts had a duty to dismantle
school segregation
– Upheld the policy of forced busing of students to combat
The Significance:
– Extended the principles of the Brown decision & the Civil
Rights Act
Korematsu v. United States
Year: 1944
– U.S. use of internment camps for Japanese Americans
during WWII
The Decision:
– Ruled that the U.S. government had the right to detain
suspected enemies in wartime
The Significance:
– Upheld the federal government’s power to limit civil
rights during times of war
Summary & Review
Marbury v. Madison
McCulloch v.
Maryland (1819)
Gibbons v. Ogden
Brown v. Board of
Education of Topeka
Korematsu v. U.S.
Plessy v. Ferguson
Heart of Atlanta
Motel, Inc. v. U.S.
Swann v. CharlotteMecklenburg Board
of Education (1971)
Landmark Cases
Cases Involving Race
• Marbury v. Madison
• McCulloch v. Maryland
• Gibbons v. Ogden
Plessy v. Ferguson
Brown v. Board of Ed.
Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.
Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Ed.
Korematsu v. U.S.