ACLU in the Supreme Court


US Supreme Court BuildingThe 500 case summaries below are a representative sample of the 749 cases in which the ACLU was involved at the US Supreme Court level (overwhelmingly as amicus filers), from their first case decided on June 8, 1925 through Dec. 31, 1999.

These "layman" summaries are targeted primarily for non-lawyers, so the case descriptions and related information are in straightforward easily understood language.

Some of the summaries and case descriptions presented were written by law students and researchers, and therefore may be missing some important legal nuances or contain erroneous data. However, in the majority of the cases, in order to avoid rewriting or reinterpreting the opinion of the Court, we used verbatim the relevant portions of the case summaries and opinions as published by the Supreme Court. We are in discussions to have all 749 case summaries published in print form. Inside the US Supreme Court

Thank you to the following volunteers and interns for their research contributions to this project (in alphabetical order): Erica Bianco, Elena Colle, Rachel Espana, Grant Hubbard, Ian Li, Christopher Lippi, Johnny Lo, Jamie Lowry, Allison Martins, Melanie McClinnis, Dillon McGrew, Pavan Nagavelli, Robyn Nolan, Lindsey Phoenix, Kimberlee Ray, Tracey Resetar, Jonathan Saine, Hanna Terhaar, Sigrid Hsi-Ju Yang, and Gulcin Yilmazer.
The ACLU in the Supreme Court (500 out of 749 cases, 1925-1999)
All cases argued and decided in the United States Supreme Court, in which the ACLU was involved as a party, counsel, or amicus ("friend of the Court"), in chronological order (oldest first). 
 
 See our Glossary for a definition of legal terms used in the cases, such as amicus curiae, respondent, appellee, petitioner, appellant, writ, and certiorari.

CASE
(Click for summary, question presented, arguments, amicus filers, holding, and ACLU position)
YEAR
CONST. ISSUES
(AMENDMENTS)
ACLU ROLE
AND POSITION
OUTCOME
(VOTE)
ACLU
WIN/LOSS*
Gitlow v. People of State of New York 1925 1st Amendment - press, speech, assembly
(1)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(Unavailable)
Loss
Stromberg v. People of State of California 1931 1st Amendment - press, speech, assembly
(1)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win
Powell v. State of Alabama 1932 Criminal Justice - procedure
(14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win
De Jonge v. State of Oregon 1937 1st Amendment - press, speech, assembly
(1, 14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win
Senn v. Tile Layers Protective Union 1937

Governmental Authority - union
(1)

Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(5-4)
Win
Lovell v. Griffin 1938

1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1,14)

Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-0)
Win
Hague v. Committee for Indus. Org. 1939

1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(14)

Party
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(5-2)
Win
Schneider v. State 1939 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1,14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(7-1)
Win
Carlson v. California
1940
1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)
Win
Edwards v. People of State of California 1941 Governmental Authority - regulation
(14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
Win
Jones v. Opelika 1943 1st Amendment - religion
(1,14)
Counsel
Supporting Petition for Rehearing
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Martin v. Struthers 1943

1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)

Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
NBC v. U.S 1943 Governmental Authority - regulation
(1)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(5-2)
Win
Taylor v. State of Mississippi 1943 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette 1943

1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)

Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(6-3)
Win
Hirabayashi v. United States 1943

Civil Rights - race
(5,14)

Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(9-0)
Loss
Yasui v. United States 1943

Civil Rights - race
(5,14)

Amicus
Urging Reversal
Sustained conviction, Vacated Judgment
(9-0)
Loss
Falbo v. United States 1944 Governmental Authority - regulation
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(8-1)
Loss
Follett v. Town of McCormick 1944

1st Amendment - religion
(1)

Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Smith v. Allwright 1944 Civil Rights - race
(14, 15)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)
Win
Lyons v. State of Oklahoma 1944 Criminal Justice - procedure
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(6-3)
Loss
Steele v. Louisville & N.R. Co. 1944 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Tunstall v. Brotherhood of Locomotive Firemen and Enginemen 1944 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Korematsu v. United State 1944 Civil Rights - race
(14, 5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(6-3)
Loss
Ex Parte Mitsuye Endo 1944 Civil Rights - race
(14, 5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Thomas v. Collins 1945 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Alabama Federation of Labor v. McAdory 1945 Governmental Authority - union
(1, 14)
Amicus
Supporting Petition for Declaratory Judgment
Denied
(9-0)
Loss
Congress of Industrial Organizations v. McAdory 1945 Governmental Authority - union
(1, 14)
Amicus
Supporting Petition for Declaratory Judgment
Denied
(9-0)
Loss
Hill v. State of Florida 1945 Governmental Authority - union
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(7-2)
Win
Railway Mail Ass'n v. Corsi 1945 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(9-0)
Win
Bridges v. Wixon 1945 Governmental Authority - Communism
(5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-3)
Win
Hannegan v. Esquire, Inc. 1946 1st Amendment - obscenity
(1)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(8-0)
Win
Duncan v. Kahanamoku 1946 Criminal Justice - procedure
(5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-2)
Win
Bell v. Hood 1946 Criminal Justice - 4th Amendment
(4, 5)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-2)
Win
Girouard v. U.S. 1946 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-3)
Win
Pennekamp v. Florida 1946 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-0)
Win
Morgan v. Commonwealth of Virginia 1946 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(7-1)
Win
Everson v. Board of Education of Ewing 1947 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss
Sipuel v. Board of Regents of Univeristy of Oklahoma 1948 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Oyama v. California 1948 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Musser v. Utah 1948 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Vacated
(6-3)
Loss
McCollum v. Board of Education 1948 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)
Win
Winters v. People of State of New York 1948 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Shelley v. Kraemer 1948 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-0)
Win
Hurd v. Hodge 1948 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-0)
Win
United States v. Paramount Pictures, Inc. 1948 Governmental Authority - regulation
(1)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Reversed
(7-1)
Loss
Price v. Johnston 1948 Criminal Justice - prison
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Takahashi v. Fish and Game Commission 1948 Criminal Justice - prison
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(7-2)
Win
United States v. Congress of Industrial Organizations 1948 Governmental Authority - union
(1)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(9-0)
Win
Kovacs v. Cooper 1949 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss
Stainback v. Mo Hock Ke Lok Po (2 cases) 1949 Governmental Authority - regulation
(5)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance
Dismissed and Reversed
(9-0)
Loss
Terminiello v. City of Chicago 1949 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Knauff v. Shaughnessy 1950 Governmental Authority - immigration
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(4-3)
Loss
Communications Assn. v. Douds 1950 Governmental Authority - immigration
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(4-2)
Loss
Hughes v. Superior Court of California 1950 Civil Rights - race
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(8-0)
Loss
McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents 1950 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Anti-Fascist Committee v. McGrath 1951 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-3)
Win
Garner v. Board of Public Works of L.A. 1951 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss
Rochin v. California 1952 Criminal Justice - drugs
(5, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-0)
Win
Doremus v. Board of Education 1952 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Dismissed
(6-3)
Loss
Adler v. Board of Education of the City of New York 1952 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(6-3)
Loss
Joseph Burstyn Inc. v. Wilson 1952 1st Amendment - press, speech, association
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Wieman v. Updegraff 1952 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-0)
Win
Brown v. Board of Education 1954 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Emspak v. United States 1955 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Slochower v. Board of Education 1956 Governmental Authority - Communism
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Butler v. Michigan 1957 Criminal Justice - procedure
(1)
Amicus
Supporting Appellant
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Watkins v. United States 1957 Governmental Authority - Communism
(5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-1)
Win
Yates v. United States 1957 Governmental Authority - Communism
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-1)
Win
Roth v. United States 1957 1st Amendment - obscenity
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(6-3)
Loss
Kent v. Dulles 1958 Governmental Authority - Communism
(5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Lerner v. Casey
1958
Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 5, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal

Affirmed
(5-4)

Loss
First Unitarian Church v. Los Angeles
1958
Civil Rights - state
(1, 14)
Amicus
Urging
Reversal
Reversed
(7-1)
Win
Crooker v. California
1958
Criminal Justice - procedure
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss
Gomillion v. Lightfoot
1960
Civil Rights - race
(15)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Mapp v. Ohio 1961 Criminal Justice - 4th Amendment
(4)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
Times Film Corp. v. City of Chicago
1961
1st Amendment - speech, press, assembly
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss
Saldana v. United States
1961
Criminal Justice - drugs
(5, 6)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Russell v. United States
1962
Criminal Justice - procedure
(5, 6)
Amicus
Urging
Reversal
Reversed
(5-2)
Win
Engel v. Vitale 1962 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win
Kennedy v. Mendoza-Martinez
1963
Governmental Authority - citizenship
(5, 6)
Amicus
Urging
Affirmance
Affirmed
(5-4)
Win
McNeese v. Board of Education
1963
Civil Rights -
race
(14)
Amicus Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)
Win
Ker v. California
1963
Criminal Justice - drugs
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(5-4)
Loss

Schneider v. Rusk

1963

Governmental Authority - immigration
(14)

Amicus
Urging Reversal

Reversed
(9-0)

Win

Gideon v. Wainwright 1963 Criminal Justice - procedure
(6, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Abington School Dist. v. Schempp 1963 1st Amendment - religion
(1)
Counsel
Urging Affirmance (1 case), Reversal (1 case)
Affirmed and Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win

Yellin v. U.S.

1963

Governmental Authority - regulation
(1, 5, 14)

Amicus
Urging Reversal

Reversed
(5-4)

Win

Smith v. California 1963 1st Amendment - obscenity
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal

Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Aptheker v. Secretary of State
1964
Governmental Authority - Communism
(1, 5)
Amicus Urging Reversal
Reversed and Remanded
(6-3)
Win
Jacobellis v. Ohio
1964
1st Amendment - obscenity
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Smith v. Pennsylvania
1964
Civil Rights - race
(6)
Amicus Supporting Certiorari
Certiorari
Granted
(9-0)
Win
Malloy v. Hogan
1964
Criminal Justice - procedure
(5, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
New York Times v. Sullivan 1964 1st Amendment - defamation
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Stoner v. California 1964 Criminal Justice - 4th Amendment
(4)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)

Win
Ungar v. Sarafite 1964 Criminal Justice - procedure
(14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Affirmed
(6-3)

Loss
Reynolds v. Sims 1964 Civil Rights - state
(14)
Counsel
Urging Affirmance
Affirmed
(8-1)
Win
Escobedo v. Illinois 1964 1st Amendment - obscenity
(1, 6, 14)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(5-4)
Win
U.S v. Seeger 1965 1st Amendment - religion
(1, 5)
Amicus
Urging Affirmance (2 cases), Reversal (1 case)
Affirmed and Reversed
(9-0)
Win
Griswold v. Connecticut 1965 Civil Rights - privacy
(1)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(8-1)
Win
Miranda v. Arizona 1966 Criminal Justice - procedure
(5)
Amicus
Urging Reversal (3 cases) and Affirmance (1 case)
Reversed and Affirmed
(5-4)
Win
Whitus v. Georgia 1967 Civil Rights - race
(14)
Counsel
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(Unavailable)
Win
Berger v. New York
1967
Criminal Justice - 4th Amendment
(4)
Amicus
Urging Reversal
Reversed
(6-3)
Win
Boutilier v. Immigration and Naturalization Service