March Madness Supreme Court Edition First Round Results | North Bracket


1. Griswold v. Connecticut vs. 16. Illinois Central Railroad v. Illinois

While Illinois Central is a great case as far as public trust doctrine is concerned, it was only one decision in a long line of Supreme Court cases to develop that ideal its present form in US law. It is no match for Griswold which has basically single-handedly provided the basis for a number of constutional developments. Griswold's  finding of a constitutionally protected right to privacy set the scene for everything from women's rights to gay marriage- and the doctrine continues to be developed to this day. What's more astounding about Griswold is that the constitution never even touches on the idea of a "right to privacy", though the Court found that it emanated from other express rights and recitals in the constitution itself. That is a very dangerous or courageous path down which to travel if you're a Supreme Court Justice, depending on your interpretation of what the constitution is and stands for.

Sorry Illinois Central. Griswold takes this one in a blow out.

Winner: 1. Griswold v. Connecticut

8. Mapp v. Ohio vs.9. Gibbons v. Ogden

While both of these cases come to almost natural conclusions- Mapp, by extending the protection from "unreasonable searches and seizures" to criminal prosecutions in state courts for violations of state laws, and Gibbons by stating that "commerce" for the purpose of the Commerce Clause applies to more than the mere movement of goods- it was a bigger jump for the court to make the connection in Mapp. Further, Commerce Clause jurisprudence was still somewhat in its infancy, and would face many more developments even independent of the Court's decision in Gibbons.

Mapp wins this one due to the way it expanded protections for criminally charged individuals under state laws.

Winner: 8. Mapp v. Ohio

5. United States v. Windsor vs. 12. Village of Euclid, Ohio v. Ambler Realty Co.

The Windsor case, while incredibly recent, is monumental in its holding as well as its implications when considering current events. The Court invalidated Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act, which restricted its protections to heterosexual unions. The case can be viewed as a catalyst for state court decisions and legislative actions in the arena of gay rights- for better or worse. Meanwhile, Euclid is monumental in its own way. The case essentially "OKed" the now common municipal practice of zoning. That significance aside, Windsor comes out on top, not only for what the case holds, but what it stands for and will likely continue to stand for as it is judged against in retrospect when viewed as a catalyst for gay rights.

Winner: 5. United States v. Windsor

4. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan vs. 13. Korematsu v. United States

Korematsu is commonly viewed as one of the biggest mistakes the Court has ever made- and rightfully so. It approved of the practice of interning Japanese-Americans during World War II and represents a low point in Supreme Court jurisprudence. Meanwhile, NYT v. Sullivan marks a substantial victory for journalists by requiring "actual malice" when making reports about public officials before comments can be defamatory. Further, it arose in the midst of civil rights campaigns throughout the country, so it is even more important when timing is considered. Armed with the Courts ruling, publications were free to report on civil rights abuses by elected officials throughout the country without fear of prosecution.

Winner: 4. New York Times v. Sullivan

3. Marbury v. Madison vs. 14. Terry v. Ohio

One of the first cases studied in any constitutional law class, Marbury set the stage for what would become the foundation for judicial review in the United States (or at minimum can be said to be the first case to acknowledge and exercise a power that already existed). Nevertheless, it's safe to say that the US government would not operate in the manner it does today were it not for the decision in Marbury v. Madison. Sorry Terry. While you may mean a lot for cops that need a reason to get frisky without probably cause, you're no match for the foundation of modern judicial review.

Winner: 3. Marbury v. Madison

6. McCulloch v. Maryland vs. 11. Ableman v. Booth

Both of these cases play important roles in the structure of American law, but McCulloch's implications on its face are potentially limitless in that it stands for the proposition that the Constitution grants Congress implied powers (not specifically mentioned in the constitution) in order to implement the express powers actually contained within the Constitution. Secondly, it essentially stands for the proposition that states may not impede the Federal government's valid exercise of constitutional power- which is more or less what can be divulged from Ableman. While not exactly on point with each other, why would you take the imitator when you could have the original?

Winner: 6. McCulloch v. Maryland

7. West Coast Hotel Co. v. Parrish vs. 10. Dred Scott v. Sandford

Remember that we're not simply looking for the "best" Supreme Court decision. Dred Scott is without a doubt cited most frequently as the Court's biggest blunder- an eye sore on the fabric of the nation. But, judged by our standards, it's outcome was monumental. In the case, the Court ruled that African Americans, both slave and free, could not be citizens of the United States, and therefore, could not bring suit in federal court. This undoubtedly had huge implications on the history of the country from slavery to the Civil War itself. It goes without saying that, without this ruling, the country today would be a very different one. Yes, West Coast Hotels spelled the end of the Lochner era and signaled a willingness by the Court to impose more regulations on business, nothing can compare to the sheer magnitude that the Dred Scott decision had for this country.

Winner: 10. Dred Scott v. Sandford


2. New York Times Co. v. United States vs. 15. McGowan v. Maryland

New York Times stands for the proposition that the government must meet an incredibly high burden in order to impose prior restraints on speech, while McGowan held that even though a law may have a religious origin, it is not unconstitutional if it has a secular purpose.

While religious freedom is one of the paramount values the constitution sits upon, the McGowan case is not all that substantial in the grand scheme of religious freedom jurisprudence. New York Times, on the other hand, provided the press with nearly unfettered freedom to publish almost anything, even if there was a significant risk to national security. Because of the monumental implications for freedom of speech, it came out of this matchup a winner.

Winner: 2. New York Times Co. v. United States


2nd Round Match Ups in the North Bracket:

1. Griswold v. Connecticut vs. 8. Mapp v. Ohio

4. New York Times Co. v. Sullivan vs. 5. United States v. Windsor


3. Marbury v. Madison vs. 6. McCulloch v. Maryland

2. New York Times Co. v. United States vs. 10. Dred Scott v. Sandford


Results will be announced Wednesday, March 19th


Results from other brackets: