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SUPREME COURT HISTORY
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Noticable Decisions
Legal precedent is a powerful tool and guide for justices when they decide a case.
In many instances, a past decision, or decisions, provide the most important rationale for rendering a judgment. Justices often vote to uphold the existing rule of law, not always because they believe it to be the best decision, but out of respect for precedent and an interest in stability in the law. This reverence for institutional continuity is known as the principal of "stare decisis," which, roughly translated from its original Latin, means "to stand by that which is decided."

However, there are unusual circumstances that lead the Supreme Court to reverse itself: changes in the makeup of the Court, new research that disproves previously held beliefs, or current events that demand judicial action. Half a century can pass between a decision and its reversal, as in the example of the racial segregation cases of Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. the Board of Education. Other times it can be only a few years, as in the Pledge of Allegiance rulings with the Jehovah's Witnesses. -- by Philippe Knab
Separate but Equal
  Plessy v. Ferguson 1896
Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas 1954

First Amendment v. Pledge of Allegiance
  Minersville School District v. Gobitis 1940
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 1943

Privacy Rights for Homosexuals
  Bowers v. Hardwick 1986
Lawrence v. Texas 2003

Wiretapping and Fourth Amendment
  Olmstead v. United States 1928
Katz v. United States 1967

Commerce Clause of the Constitution
  National League of Cities v. Usery 1976
Garcia v. San Antonio Metropolitan Transit Authority 1985