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A Court Divided
In a highly controversial move, the Court intervenes in the contested presidential election of 2000, ordering the state of Florida to halt its ballot recount. The decision in Bush v. Gore allows the Florida Secretary of State to certify George W. Bush as the winner of the state's 25 electoral votes, thus enabling Bush to win the presidency.

The Court strikes some provisions of the federal Violence Against Women Act, holding that the act's creation of a right of action for female victims of gender-based violence to sue their attackers in federal court is unconstitutional. When it passed the bill, Congress specifically invoked its power to regulate interstate commerce, relying on research that demonstrated the harmful effects of violence against women to interstate commerce. However, in a ruling similar to that in the 1995 case U.S. v Lopez, the Court holds in United States v. Morrison that Congress has exceeded its authority in creating the act.

Overturning its decision in the 1986 case Bowers v. Hardwick, the Court strikes the Texas "Homosexual Conduct" law. The decision in Lawrence v. Texas holds that the law -- which criminalized sexual intimacy between gay couples but not similar actions by heterosexual couples -- violates the right to privacy.

Photo of a sign protesting the Court's decision in Bush v. Gore.
In 2000, the Supreme Court weighed in on the outcome of the presidential election. The controversial decision in Bush v. Gore halted a ballot recount in Florida, effectively determining that the state's 25 electoral votes would go to George Bush and that he would win the election.

Reproduction courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute
The Court issues its decisions in two separate cases dealing with affirmative action policies at the University of Michigan. The Court's decision in Gratz v. Bollinger strikes the university's undergraduate admission policy, which uses a points system to rate applicants and awards automatic points to members of minority groups; however, the decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, issued the same day, upholds the more highly individualized policy used by Michigan's law school.

In 2001, U.S. forces in Afghanistan seized Yaser Hamdi, a U.S. citizen that the government believed to be fighting for the Taliban there. The government declared Hamdi to be an "enemy combatant" and transferred him to various military prisons in the United States. In Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, the Court rules that by holding Hamdi indefinitely without charge or access to an attorney, the government has violated Hamdi's Fifth Amendment right to due process.