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Synthesizer: Supreme Court Cases

Teacher/Instructor Chuck Raznikov
Chuck Raznikov

Teaching at a top-ranked high school in SF

He has been a teacher at Lo High School - a top-ranked high school in San Francisco - for over 20 years.

There are probably about 40 or 50 Supreme Court cases that you’re absolutely going to need to commit to your memory. You’re going to see some of them on the AP exam, three or four on the multiple choice exam. For sure, you’ll be able to apply your knowledge in the free response section as well. How do I put it all together? How do I remember the holdings and the implications, and how it all fits? For me, I like to use a graphic organizer.

What I’d like you to do is to follow along with me. Go to the bonus materials and download the graphic organizer on Supreme Court cases and let’s look at it together.

Here you can see that I’ve got the cases, but I’m going to divide them into seven sub categories. This helps me to make sense of them all. We’ll take a look at the first section and what works for me. The federal system, three most important cases in the early 1800s, you remember them well. Marbury vs. Madison 1803, of course, the Principle of Judicial Review. We’ve got the case, we’ve listed the holding, and then I’m going to list some special notes here on the right side. For me, it’s about John Marshall and how he imprinted the Court and was a major player for the next 20 years or so.

Gibbons vs. Ogden, Interstate commerce can be regulated by the federal government. That’s the holding. What kind of special notes would you like to add here in order to help you to be able to remember the holding, and to be able to apply it on the exam?

Finally, Barron vs. Baltimore, you remember the holding in that case? If you do list it. If not, check your notes, put in the holding. What kind of special notes do you want to include there? That’s the first category. Then we have six more.

Almost all the rest of them have to do with Bill of Rights issues. First amendment, Freedom of the Press, Assembly, Speech, Freedom of Region. Make sure when you’re doing Freedom of Religion, that you distinguish between establishment cases and free exercise cases. The Rights of the Accused, the 5th, 6th and 8th amendments and then equal protection cases. You’ll see all those cases listing, give yourself a test. Do you remember the whole holdings in those cases? And what kind of special notes would you like to use to help you remember it? For me that works. I think that will help you to remember them and apply them on your AP exam.