A phrase most famously used by Supreme Court Justice Black in the case of Everson v. Board of Education. In discussing the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment, Justice Black said that the clause erected a "wall of separation between church and state." He explained that this means, among other things, that the government cannot participate in the affairs of a religious group, set up a church, aid or prefer one religion over another, or aid or prefer religion over nonreligion.
The U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court struck down laws prohibiting flag burning. The Court held that laws banning flag burning violated the First Amendment right to free speech.
- Full text: Texas v. Johnson (Nolo)
The U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court extended First Amendment free speech protections to those who make parodies of public figures, in this case fundamentalist Protestant minister Jerry Falwell.
- Full text: Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell (Nolo)
The U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court established that neutral employment practices that have a discriminatory effect can violate Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, even if the employer did not intend to discriminate.
- Full text: Griggs v. Duke Power Co. (Nolo)
The U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that the death penalty was unconstitutional because states imposed it in an arbitrary -- and sometimes racially biased -- manner. The Court also ruled that the death penalty could not be imposed for rape. After this decision, states rewrote their laws to address the Court's concerns, and the death penalty was reinstated in 1976 in the case of Gregg v. Georgia.
- Full text: Furman v. Georgia (Nolo)
The U.S. Supreme Court decision that struck down as unconstitutional laws prohibiting interracial marriage.
- Full text: Loving v. Virginia (Nolo)
A World War II-era U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court held that excluding all persons of Japanese ancestry from designated military areas was constitutional.
The U.S. Supreme Court decision in which the Court ruled that African Americans, whether enslaved or free, were not citizens of the United States and therefore did not have the right to sue in federal court. The Court also ruled that the federal government could not prohibit slavery in the territories. The decision was a prime factor leading to the Civil War, but was eventually rendered moot by the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution -- which provides that anyone born or naturalized in the United States is a citizen of the nation and of his or her state.
- Full text: Dred Scott v. Sandford (Nolo)
A U.S. Supreme Court case in which the Court declared so-called restrictive covenants in real property deeds that prohibited the sale of property to non-Caucasians to be unconstitutional and in violation of the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. Where such covenants remain in the text of deeds they must be ignored.
The Supreme Court case that held that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.
Full text of Roe v. Wade (1973):