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Landmark Cases: Law and Society: Research Project

Landmark Cases Research Project

A landmark case is a court case that is studied because it has historical and legal significance. The most significant cases are those that have had a lasting effect on the application of a certain law, often concerning your individual rights and liberties.Cases are considered landmark cases when they establish a new law and set new precedents.


You have been selected to serve on a Landmark Supreme Court Case Commission. Your committee has been tasked with establishing the most important and influential Supreme Court case in recent history. As a commissioner, you and your partner must research and review a nominated court case and prepare a presentation that will effectively persuade other members of the Landmark Supreme Court Case Commission to select your case as the most significant Supreme Court decision in recent times. Voting will take place in closed ballot.

With your partner select a case to research from the list below:

  1. Gideon v. Wainwright
  2. Miranda v. Arizona
  3. Tinker v. Des Moines
  4. Roe v. Wade
  5. New Jersey v. TLO
  6. Texas v. Johnson
  7. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission
  8. Roper v. Simmons
  9. Obergefell v. Hodges

Elements of Presentation

  1. Title of case
  2. Constitutional Issue: What is the constitutional issue involved in the case?  
  3. Parties Involved:Who were the parties involved in the case?
  4. Historical background/ Time/setting: When and where did the case take place?
  5. Background Events:What events lead up to the case going before the Supreme Court?
  6. Arguments: What were the arguments for both sides of the case?
  7. Ruling: What was the Supreme Court’s ruling / decision?
  8. Rationale: What was the reasoning given by the Supreme Court for making their decision?
  9. Relevance: Why is this case considered “Landmark”? What was the long term impact of this case?
  10. Response: How do you feel about the ruling? Why?
  11. Sources 

Visual History of the Supreme Court of the United States

Click on the image below to enlarge.

Start your research here!

Student Resources in Context  
This database offers you access to a variety of materials related to research topics. On campus access is automatic. 

Offers citizens access to specific details on the facts and conclusions of court cases, including, in many cases, the opportunity to listen to oral arguments.  

 Be sure to take note of keywords and places, and events within the complaint that will help you search for additional information regarding the back ground of the case.


More Web Sources to Consider

The following sources may provide additional insights.  REMEMBER: When you are doing research, you do not need multiple sources that tell you the same thing.  If a source provides no new information, skip it.  

Landmark Cases: 12 Historic Supreme Court Decisions (C-SPAN)
This documentary "explores the human stories and drama behind some of the most significant and frequently cited decisions in the Supreme Court's history.  The videos are nicely segmented so that you can drill down into specific aspects of the case. Website includes support documents.

Landmark Cases of the U.S. Supreme Court (Street Law and Supreme Court Historical Society)

Landmark Decisions  (FindLaw)

The Supreme Court  Landmark Cases Index (PBS)
PBS programming on the history and future of our Supreme Court covers many landmark cases.  This index will take you directly to information regarding the specific cases covered, as well as related cases.

Supreme Court Landmarks (
Provides nice outlines of landmark cases. Be sure to click on the "learn more" link to access more in-depth information, including links to decisions and arguements.


eBooks available to you through the virtual library that may be useful to your research are linked below. Search within the publication or search the entire GVRL collection.

Library Information and Media Center - Monona Grove High School - Monona, Wisconsin

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