What were some of the most important cases in the history of the Supreme Court?

Sandra Day O'Connor, associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (retired), explains the most important cases in the history of the court, including Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka.

Two of the most important cases in the history of the Supreme Court

 

Marbury v. Madison

Marbury v. Madison marked the first time the United States Supreme Court declared a federal law unconstitutional. This 1803 case is one of the most important decisions in U.S. history. Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the opinion for the court. He held that it was the duty of the judicial branch to determine what the law is. His opinion established the power of judicial review—that is, the court's authority to declare laws unconstitutional.

 

Brown v. Board of Education

Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka was a case decided in 1954 in which the Supreme Court of the United States declared racial segregation in public schools to be unconstitutional. The full name of the case is Brown et al v. Board of Education of Topeka, Shawnee County, Kansas. The court decided the case together with several others that dealt with the same issue. The court applied its decision to all of the cases at the same time. But the name of the Brown case is almost always used in referring to the decision.

 

For more information about Supreme Court Landmark cases, visit World Book Online Encyclopedia.

 

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