District of Columbia v. Heller was the first time in several decades that the Supreme Court interpreted the words of the Second Amendment. The case involved a ban on handguns in the home. It also involved two aspects of an ongoing debate: first, the debate over gun violence and its causes; and second, the debate over “originalism” and whether the Court can sensibly interpret the Constitution with the meaning its words would have had when its provisions were adopted. (courtesy National Constitution Center)
Dred Scott, a slave, was purchased in Missouri and then brought to Illinois, a non-slave state. He later moved with his owner to present-day Minnesota, where slavery was prohibited, and then back to Missouri. When his owner died, Scott sued claiming he was no longer enslaved because he had become free after living in a free state. The Supreme Court decided that Scott was not a “citizen of the state” so it had no jurisdiction in the matter. The majority opinion also stated that Scott was not a free man.
Ex parte Bollman, 8 U.S. (4 Cranch) 75 (1807), was a case brought before the United States Supreme Court. Bollman held that the constitutional definition of treason excluded mere conspiracy to levy war against the United States.
Erick Bollman and Samuel Swartwout were civilians who became implicated in the Burr-Wilkinson Plot. This plot supposedly consisted of Aaron Burr and James Wilkinson attempting to create an empire in the United States, ruled by Burr. In 1806, Wilkinson informed President Thomas Jefferson of the plot, ending whatever may have actually been planned. Bollman and Swartwout attempted to recruit others into the plot, but these individuals informed the military, which promptly arrested them.
The Supreme Court decided that "To constitute a levying of war, there must be an assemblage of persons for the purpose of effecting by force a treasonable purpose. Enlistments of men to serve against government is not sufficient."
Suspension of Habeas Corpus by Executive Order During the Civil war by Abraham Lincoln
At the outset of the Civil War (War of the Rebellion) President Abraham Lincoln unilaterally suspended Habeas Corpus. Chief Justice Roger Taney acting as Circuit Court Judge granted a Writ of Habeas Corpus. Note: Not a Supreme Court case.
Established the doctrine of judicial review, the power of the federal courts to declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional.
In the Judiciary Act of 1789, Congress gave the Supreme Court the authority to issue certain judicial writs. The Constitution did not give the Court this power. Because the Constitution is the Supreme Law of the Land, the Court held that any contradictory congressional Act is without force. The ability of federal courts to declare legislative and executive actions unconstitutional is known as judicial review.