Cases and Materials:

Introduction to United States Constitutional Law


an on-line casebook prepared by


Elizabeth Dale

Fulbright Lecturer/Researcher,

Shandong University Law School

Jinan, Peopleís Republic of China


Associate Professor, US Legal History

Department of History, University of Florida

Affiliate Professor of Legal History, Levin College of Law

(on leave Spring 2005)

© Elizabeth Dale January 2005





United States Constitution and Amendments


English and European antecedents:

Magna Carta (1215)

Golden Bull (1356)

Bonhamís Case (1610)

Trial of Seven Bishops (1688)

English Bill of Rights (1689)


Colonial period (1620 to 1700):

*Mayflower Compact (1620) (statement about government)

Ordinance for Virginia (1621)

John Winthropís Sermon on the Arbella (1630)

*Little Speech on Liberty (statement about government)

Laws and Liberties of Massachusetts Bay (1648)


1750 to 1800:

Declaration of Independence (1776)

*Pennsylvania Act for the Gradual Abolition of Slavery (1780) (rights)

Articles of Confederation (1781)

Statements ratifying the Constitution by New York and South Carolina

Calder v. Bull (1798)

Chisholm v. Georgia (1793)

Federalist Paper number 43 (1788)



1800 to 1840:

a) Supreme Court decisions:

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Fletcher v. Peck (1810)

Martin v. Hunterís Lessee (1816)

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Dartmouth College Case (1819)

Cohens v. Virginia (1821)

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Barron v. Baltimore (1833)


b) Constitutional theories:

Joseph Storey, Commentaries on the Constitution (excerpts)

*Report and Resolutions of the Hartford Convention (1815) (right of revolution)

*South Carolina Ordinance of Nullification (1832) (power to interpret the Constitution, right of revolution, sovereignty of state governments)

*President Jacksonís Proclamation on Nullification (1832)(presidential power)

*South Carolinaís Reply to Jacksonís Proclamation on Nullification (1832) (presidential power, sovereignty of state governments)

*South Carolinaís Nullification of the Force Bill (1833) (presidential power, sovereignty of state governments)


1841 to 1860:

*Fugitive Slave Law (1850) (power of national government, sovereignty of state governments)

*State of Georgiaís Platform on the Compromise of 1850 (power of national government, sovereignty of state governments)

*Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854) (nature of government)

*Scott v. Sandford (Dred Scott case) (1857) (opinions of Justice Taney and Justice Curtis) (rights, citizenship) (pick only one of these opinions to write about)

Ableman v. Booth (1859)

*Statement of Secession, South Carolina (1860) (sovereignty of states, right of revolution)

*Statement of Secession, Georgia (1860) (sovereignty of states, right of revolution)


Civil War and Reconstruction (1861 to 1877):

*Charles Sumnerís Resolution on the Theory of Secession and Reconstruction (1862) (sovereignty of states, rights of revolution)

*Recommendation for the Secession of New York City (1861) (right of revolution)

*Resolutions on the Objects of the War (1861) (power of national government, rights)

*Gettysburg Address (1863) (nature of American government)

*Emancipation Proclamation (1863) (power of national government)

*Illinois Reaction to the Emancipation Proclamation (1863) (power of national government)

*Civil Rights Act of 1866 (rights)

Slaughterhouse Cases (1873)

*Bradwell v. Illinois (1873) (rights)

*Minor v. Happersett (1875) (rights)

*Civil Rights Act of 1875 (rights)

*Munn v. Illinois (1876) (police power, state sovereignty, power of national government)


1880 to 1920:

The Civil Rights Cases (1883)

*Yick Wo v. Hopkins (1886) (rights)

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)

Hans v.Louisiana (1890)

*Lochner v. New York (1905) (police power, state sovereignty)

*Muller v. Oregon (1908) (police power, state sovereignty)

Weeks v. United States (1914)

Schenck v. United States (1919)

Abrams v. United States (1919)

Debs v. United States (1919)



1921 to 1949:

Penn Coal v. Mahon (1922)

Adkins v. Childrenís Hospital (1923)

Meyer v.Nebraska (1923)

*Buck v. Bell (1927) (rights, police power)

*Whitney v. California (1927) (rights)

Olmstead v. United States (1928)

*Near v. Minnesota (1931) (rights)

*Palko v. Connecticut (1937) (rights)

West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937) (police power, state sovereignty, power of national government)

*United States v. Carolene Products (1938) (police power, state sovereignty, power of national government)

Coleman v. Miller (1939)

*Minersville School District v. Gobitis (1940) (rights)

*West Virginia Board of Education v. Barnette (1943) (rights)

*Korematsu v. United States (1944) (rights)

Toomer v. Witsell (1948)

Shelley v. Kramer (1948)

Wolf v. Colorado (1949)




Dennis v. United States (1951)

Youngstown Sheet and Tubing (1952)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

Cooper v. Aaron (1958)

Mapp v.Ohio (1961)

*Baker v. Carr (1962) (rights)

*Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) (rights)

*Heart of Atlanta Motel v. United States (1964) (rights)

Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)

*Loving v. Virginia (1967) (rights)

Duncan v. Louisiana (1968)

Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969)




Roe v. Wade (1973)

Moore v. City of East Cleveland (1977)

Hicklin v. Orbeck (1978)

Baldwin v. Fish and Game Commission (1978)

Penn Central v. New York (1978)

United States v. Leon (1984)

Massachusetts v. Shepard (1984)

*Texas v. Johnson (1989) (rights)

Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992) (OíConnor opinion)

Lucas v. South Carolina Commission (1992)

United States v. Lopez (1995)

Clinton v. Jones (1997)

Alden v. Maine (1999)