Barred states from using evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment (unreasonable search and seizures); accomplished this by use of the principle of selective incorporation, incorporating the provisions, as construed by the Court, of the Fourth Amendment which are literally applicable only to actions of the federal government into the Fourteenth Amendment due process clause which is literally applicable to actions of the states
Decided that federal courts have jurisdiction to hear a constitutional challenge to a legislative apportionment, Justice Charles Evans Whittaker was so torn over the case that he had to recuse himself, the arduous decisional process in the case is often blamed for Whittaker's subsequent health problems and resignation
Found it unconstitutional for school officials to compose and encourage recital of a non-denominational prayer in school, the prayer in question was: Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence upon Thee, and we beg Thy blessings upon us, our parents, our teachers and our country. Amen.
Struck down a Pennsylvanian law that required that '[a]t least ten verses from the Holy Bible [be] read, without comment, at the opening of each public school on each school day.'
Established the actual malice standard which has to be met before press reports about public officials or public figures can be considered to be defamation and libel, prior to this the South had filed numerous nuisance suits against northern papers that reported on civil rights demonstrations
Overruled Betts v. Brady, which had allowed selective application of the Sixth Amendment right to counsel to the states, itself previously binding only in federal cases; the court held that the right to the assistance of counsel was a fundamental right, essential for a fair trial, in all cases including non-capital cases
Declared that all state legislators must be elected by the rule of 'one person, one vote' meaning that election districts must be roughly equal in population
Prohibited a confession from being used as evidence if the accused person has been denied permission to see a lawyer
Declared that 'The person in custody must, prior to interrogation, be clearly informed that he has the right to remain silent, and that anything he says will be used against him in court; he must be clearly informed that he has the right to consult with a lawyer and to have the lawyer with him during interrogation, and that, if he is indigent, a lawyer will be appointed to represent him.'
'Pentagon Papers Case' holding that prior censorship by the government was unconstitutional and any attempt to block publication would violate the 1st Amendment
Held that the death penalty, as practiced by the states, was cruel and unusual punishment; The Court split 5:4 in overturning the imposition of the death penalty in each of the consolidated cases; but the majority could not agree as to a rationale and did not produce a controlling opinion, each of the nine justices wrote separately, with none of the five justices constituting the majority joining in the opinion of any other
Held that reporters were not constitutionally privileged under the 1st amendment to refuse to reveal their sources to a valid grand jury during an investigation or criminal trial
Decided simultaneously with a companion case from Georgia, ruled that a right to privacy under the due process clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have a abortion, but that right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting prenatal life and protecting women's health; state interests become stronger over the course of a pregnancy, so the trimester test of pregnancy was set up
Together with a companion case from Texas, effectively declared abortion as a constitutional right and by implication overturned most laws against abortion in other US states
Reiterated obscenity was not protected by 1st Amendment; established _____ test: set of three criteria that must be met to permit state/local regulation-- 1. the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; 2. the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions; and 3. 'whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value'
Invalidated prohibitions on desecrating the American flag enforced in 48 states; this flag burning (the flag had been stolen) occurred at the GOP Convention, demonstrators were chanting: 'America, the red, white, and blue, we spit on you, you stand for plunder, you will go under,' and, 'Reagan, Mondale, which will it be? Either one means World War III'
Forced a president to turn over tape recordings made in the oval office, rejecting the administrations claim of executive privilege, the president's attorney had stated in a lower court, 'The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment'
Ruled unconstitutional the practice of a Medical School to hold aside 16 of the 100 admissions for minorities; the white plaintiff was later admitted and graduated, while Patrick Chavis, one of the black students originally admitted, in the plaintiff's place, had his medical license revoked in 1998 by the Medical Board of California due to his 'inability to perform the most basic duties required of a physician,' such as being, 'grossly negligent in his care of seven liposuction patients--including one who bled to death after he abandoned her bedside'
Upheld patent of genetically engineered organisms
Upheld the constitutionality of a Georgia sodomy law criminalizing oral and anal sex in private between consenting adults when applied to homosexuals; argued that the Constitution did not confer 'a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy; overturned by Lawrence v. Texas
Recognized certain forms of sexual harassment as a violation of Civil Rights Act of 1964 Title VII, plaintiffs could establish violations of the Act 'by proving that discrimination based on sex has created a hostile or abusive work environment'