All posts tagged Contemporary Supreme Court Cases

Fifth Amendment: Takings

Chapter 19 Fifth Amendment: Takings The Fifth Amendment prohibits government from taking private property without just compensation. A taking occurs in the plainest sense when government exercises its power of eminent domain. More difficult cases arise when property value is diminished pursuant to government action. Land use regulation that eliminates . . . Read more

Sixth Amendment: Right to Counsel

Chapter 20 Sixth Amendment: Right to Counsel A defendant’s ability to reckon with the criminal justice system depends not only upon the quality of his case but upon the ability to secure legal representation. Without counsel, the odds increase that innocent persons will be found guilty and the defendant will . . . Read more

Due Process: Confessions and Entrapment

Chapter 18 Due Process: Confessions and Entrapment Police practices prior to the twentieth century traded significantly upon tactics of intimidation and violence. Such tactics relate back to early English police methods that freely used torture and brutality to obtain confessions. Until the late eighteenth century, such statements were admissible at . . . Read more

Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms

Chapter 16 Second Amendment: Right to Keep and Bear Arms The Second Amendment states that “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Prior to its two recent decisions, District of . . . Read more

The Power of Congress

Chapter 3 The Power of Congress Mistrust of centralized authority was an overarching influence upon the nation’s founding and has been a significant factor in the Constitution’s evolution. Early constitutional case law focusing upon congressional authority reflects this concern. In McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), for instance, the Court addressed the . . . Read more

Federal Power

Chapter 4 Federal Power Federal power to regulate interstate commerce through the early twentieth century was interpreted narrowly. As the nation plunged into a national economic crisis in the form of the Great Depression, however, case law became highly deferential toward federal power to regulate any activity that might affect . . . Read more


Chapter 9 Gender As originally framed and ratified, the Constitution reflected the input and interests of white males. The Reconstruction Amendments factored racial reality into the constitutional framework. Gender remained beyond the pale of constitutional concern, however, until the twentieth century. Until then, constitutional challenges to laws restricting freedom of . . . Read more

Fundamental Rights

Chapter 10 Fundamental Rights The primary concern of the Equal Protection Clause over the course of its history has been with racial classifications. Grounds for an equal protection claim expanded during the final decades of the twentieth century, as the Supreme Court recognized gender, alienage, and illegitimacy as classifications that . . . Read more

Federal Preemption of State Power

Chapter 6 Federal Preemption of State Power Wariness of a strong central government was a central theme of the federal Constitution’s framing and ratification. Although the national government was conceived as a government of limited power, the Constitution’s supremacy clause provides that laws enacted “under the Authority of the United . . . Read more