Situation: Allan Bakke had twice applied for and was denied admission to the University of California Medical School at Davis. Bakke was white, male, and 35 years old. He claimed under California's affirmative action plan, minorities with lower grades and test scores were admitted to the medical school when he was not, therefore his denial of admission is based solely on race.
The Court decided in Bakke's favor, 5-4.
Historical significance: Affirmative action is approved by the Court, schools may use race as an admissions factor. However the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment works both ways in the case of affirmative action; race can not be the only factor in the admissions process.
2012 - Dept. of HHS v. Florida (11-398); Florida v. Dept. of HHS (11-400); Natl. Federation of Business v. Sebelius (11-393) - Healthcare Reform Situation: The constitutionality of the sweeping health care reform law championed by President Barack Obama.
The Court voted 5-4 in favor of upholding the Affordable Care Act.
Historical significance: The ruling upholds the law's central provision - a requirement that all people have health insurance
2013 - United States v. Windsor
This decision ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined the term "marriage" under federal law as a "legal union between one man and one woman" deprived same-sex couples who are legally married under state laws of their Fifth Amendment rights to equal protection under federal law.
Situation: Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer were married in Toronto, Canada in 2007. Their marriage was recognized by New York state, where they resided. Upon Spyer's death in 2009, Windsor was forced to pay $363,000 in federal taxes, because their marriage was not recognized by federal law.
The court voted 5-4 in favor of Windsor.
Historical significance: The court rules that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional.
Honorable mentions: 1944 - Korematsu v. United States - The Court ruled Executive Order 9066, internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, is legal, 6-3 for the United States.
1961 - Mapp v. Ohio - "Fruit of the poisonous tree," evidence obtained through an illegal search cannot be used at trial, 6-3 for Mapp.
1967 - Loving v. Virginia - Prohibition against interracial marriage was ruled unconstitutional, 9-0 for Loving.
2008 - District of Columbia v. Heller - The Second Amendment does protect the individual's right to bear arms, 5-4 for Heller.
2010 - Citizens United v. FEC - The Court rules corporations can contribute to PACs under the First Amendment's right to free speech, 5-4 for Citizens United.