List of landmark court decisions in the United States

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

Landmark court decisions in the United States substantially change the interpretation of existing law.

- List of landmark court decisions in the United States

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Plessy v. Ferguson

Justice Henry Billings Brown, author of the majority opinion in Plessy
John Marshall Harlan became known as the "Great Dissenter" for his fiery dissent in Plessy and other early civil rights cases.
An Oklahoma City streetcar terminal's "colored" drinking fountain, 1939.
1904 caricature of "White" and "Jim Crow" rail cars by John T. McCutcheon

Plessy v. Ferguson, 163 U.S. 537 (1896), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that racial segregation laws did not violate the U.S. Constitution as long as the facilities for each race were equal in quality, a doctrine that came to be known as "separate but equal".

Brown v. Board of Education

Educational segregation in the US prior to Brown
The members of the U.S. Supreme Court that on May 17, 1954, ruled unanimously that racial segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.
Chief justice Earl Warren, the author of the Court's unanimous opinion in Brown
Judgment and order of the Supreme Court for the case.
U.S. circuit judges (from left to right) Robert A. Katzmann, Damon J. Keith, and Sonia Sotomayor at a 2004 exhibit on the Fourteenth Amendment, Thurgood Marshall, and Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the court ruled that U.S. state laws establishing racial segregation in public schools are unconstitutional, even if the segregated schools are otherwise equal in quality.

National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie, 432 U.S. 43 (1977), arising out of what is sometimes referred to as the Skokie Affair, was a landmark decision of the US Supreme Court dealing with freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.

Dred Scott v. Sandford

The Missouri Compromise created the slave-holding state Missouri (Mo., yellow) but prohibited slavery in the rest of the former Louisiana Territory (here, marked Missouri Territory 1812, green) north of the 36°30' North parallel.
Dred Scott
Chief justice Roger Taney, the author of the majority opinion in the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision

Dred Scott v. Sandford, 60 U.S. (19 How.) 393 (1857), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in which the Court held that the United States Constitution was not meant to include American citizenship for people of African descent, regardless of whether they were enslaved or free, and so the rights and privileges that the Constitution confers upon American citizens could not apply to them.

Shelley v. Kraemer

Iustitia ("Lady Justice") is a symbolic personification of the coercive power of a tribunal: a sword representing state authority, scales representing an objective standard and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial.

Shelley v. Kraemer, 334 U.S. 1 (1948), is a landmark United States Supreme Court case that struck down racially restrictive housing covenants.

Korematsu v. United States

Japanese American Assembly Center at Tanforan race track, San Bruno
Justice Hugo Black
Justice Felix Frankfurter
Justice Frank Murphy
Justice Owen Roberts
Justice Robert Jackson
Fred Korematsu

Korematsu v. United States, 323 U.S. 214 (1944), was a landmark decision by the Supreme Court of the United States to uphold the exclusion of Japanese Americans from the West Coast Military Area during World War II.

Smith v. Allwright

Smith v. Allwright, 321 U.S. 649 (1944), was a landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court with regard to voting rights and, by extension, racial desegregation.

Loving v. Virginia

Chief Justice Earl Warren, the author of the Supreme Court's unanimous opinion in Loving v. Virginia
Graves of the Lovings in the St. Stephen's Baptist Church cemetery, Central Point, Virginia

Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967), was a landmark civil rights decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that laws banning interracial marriage violate the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Lawrence v. Texas

Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the Court's opinion in Lawrence v. Texas.
Justice O'Connor, argued the statute was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause rather than due process and would have kept Bowers intact.

Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003), was a landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in which the Court ruled that sanctions of criminal punishment for those who commit sodomy are unconstitutional.

Obergefell v. Hodges

Outside the Supreme Court on the morning of June 26, 2015, James Obergefell (foreground, center) and attorney Al Gerhardstein (foreground, left) react to its historic decision.
Plaintiffs Gregory Bourke (left) and Michael DeLeon (right) celebrate outside the Supreme Court building on June 26, 2015.
Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote the Sixth Circuit's majority opinion upholding same-sex marriage bans, causing the circuit split that helped trigger Supreme Court review.
On the morning of June 26, 2015, outside the Supreme Court, the crowd celebrates the Court's decision.
Justice Anthony Kennedy authored the Court's opinion declaring same-sex couples have the right to marry.
In his dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts argued same-sex marriage bans did not violate the Constitution.
Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent rejecting substantive due process.
The White House illuminated in rainbow colors, which appear on the gay pride flag, on the evening of the ruling
Plaintiffs Jimmy Meade (left) and Luke Barlowe (right) celebrate at Lexington Pride Festival, Lexington, Kentucky, on the day after the Obergefell ruling.
Opponents of the decision protest before the steps of the Supreme Court, June 26, 2015.
Alabama counties issuing marriage licenses to all couples (blue) and counties issuing licenses to no one (purple) prior to August 29, 2019
Texas counties not confirmed to be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples (pink)

Obergefell v. Hodges,, is a landmark civil rights case in which the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples by both the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.