Landmark Supreme Court Cases
United States Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest judicial body in the U.S. for all cases and controversies arising under the Constitution or laws of the U.S. As the final arbiter of the law, the Court ensures the American people equal justice under law, and also functions as interpreter of the Constitution. The role of the Supreme Court derives from its authority to invalidate legislation or executive actions which, in the Court’s judgment, conflict with the Constitution. This power of “judicial review” gives the court the responsibility in assuring individual rights, as well as in maintaining a “Living Constitution” whose provisions are continually applied to new situations.
The Supreme Court must exercise discretion in deciding which cases to hear, since more than 10,000 civil and criminal cases are filed in the Supreme Court each year from various State and Federal courts. Ultimately, plenary review, with oral arguments by attorneys, is granted in about 100 cases per term. Formal written opinions are delivered in 80 to 90 cases. The Supreme Court also has “original jurisdiction” in a very small number of cases arising out of disputes between States or between States and the Federal Government. When the Supreme Court rules on a constitutional issue, that judgment is virtually final; its decisions are only rarely altered by constitutional amendment or by a new ruling of the Court.
A landmark decision is the outcome of a legal case that establishes a precedent that either substantially changes the interpretation of the law or that establishes new case law on a particular issue. Certain cases within this category are widely known in legal studies and may be reviewed by the general public, students, and academics.
Common Landmark Supreme Court Topics with Specific Cases and Citation Numbers
Here are some specific landmark Supreme Court topics and cases along with the case citation number for the Supreme Court’s written opinion. This is a great starting point to help research the case and surrounding issues.
- Abortion - Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113
- Right to die - Cruzan v. Dir., Mo. Dep’t of Health, 497 U.S. 261
- Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure - Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643
- Right to an attorney - Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436
- Capital punishment - Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238
- Freedom of speech and of the press - Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397
- Freedom of religion - Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520
- Affirmative action - Grutter v. Bollinger, 539 U.S. 306
Find Supporting Information on Supreme Court Cases in LexisNexis
LexisNexis provides a wealth of information on various landmark Supreme Court cases in a range of products. You can locate relevant materials associated with Supreme Court cases in a variety of LexisNexis products.
Research Landmark Supreme Court Cases with LexisNexis
• UPA Landmark Supreme Court decisions hardbound volumes • Find a specific case regarding a Supreme Court topic through LN Congressional. • Search LN Academic for specific Supreme Court cases and issues
To search for information on specific Supreme Court cases in LexisNexis Congressional click here
Note that by searching for “Supreme Court,” the case name, and the subject matter all at the same time, your search will NOT bring up all the relevant entries that will be useful to you.
Instead, to find the broadest range of documents available, perform both the following separate searches:
Enter the name of a relevant court case (e.g. “Roe v. Wade”) in the first search field, and click on Search
Enter “Supreme Court” in the first search field, and enter the subject you are searching for (e.g. “abortion”) in the second search field, and click on Search.
Search within “All fields except full text” in the dropdown In menus for a broader search; or search within “Title,” for a narrower search. To focus your search further, you may chose to search within a specific product. Products likely to yield good information on landmark Supreme Court cases include Committee Prints, CRS reports, Hearings, and the Serial Set.
Restrict by “All available dates” to get the widest search results.
To search for information on specific Supreme Court cases in LexisNexis Academic click here
On the main page of LexisNexis Academic there are 5 separate search tabs in the upper left of the page. Click on the search tab that says “Legal.”
On the opening page of “Legal” you will see that on the left side of the page there will be different tabs for which you can search for basic legal information pertaining to a variety of topics.
In order to search for and find specific information on a Supreme Court cases, go to the “Federal and State Cases” tab on the left.
Under the “Sources” pull down menu change it to “U.S. Supreme Court Cases, Lawyers’ Edition.”
Under “Sources” you will find the “Case name” area which separates the parties of a specific case in their own box. For this example you would enter “Roe” in the first box and “Wade” in the second box and click on Search.
Once you have done this you are able to retrieve specific U.S. Supreme Court rulings, including a case summaries and related facts specific to your research.
Instructions for Copying and Pasting Citations into LexisNexis Academic
Under the “Legal” tab, go to “Federal & State Cases.” There is a box called “Citation Number.” Copy and paste the Supreme Court citation number (for example, the citation number for Roe v. Wade is 410 U.S. 113) into the box and click on the Search button. The Supreme Court’s written opinion will then appear.
University Publications of America (UPA)
UPA has compiled Supreme Court briefings and final Court opinions, available in hard copy only. The full collection is available as a series, and select cases are available individually. The following link has the most recent updated list of UPA Landmark products: