GED Social Studies : Notable Court Cases

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Social Studies

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Notable Court Cases

In Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court established which controversial legal doctrine that stood for over 50 years until overturned by the court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Possible Answers:

Clear and present danger

One person, one vote

Separate but equal

Judicial Review

Equal protection under the law

Correct answer:

Separate but equal

Explanation:

Plessy v. Ferguson was a case that focused on the matter of racial segregation policy in the city of New Orleans, Louisianna. Homer Plessy, a man of Creole descent, and his allies on the New Orleans Committee of Citizens staged an act of civil disobedience when Plessy attempted to ride on a white's only railroad car within the city. At the time, New Orleans had implemented a number of policies aimed at keeping whites separate from people of color in public. In Plessy, the court ruled against Homer Plessy and held that racial segregation was legal as long as people of color were provided with equal accomodations while being held separate in public. Over 50 years later, in Brown v. Board of Education, the court reversed precedent and ruled that separate facilities were inherently unequal, especially in the case of schools.

Example Question #12 : United States History

In Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court found that segregation violated __________.

Possible Answers:

the Free Exercise Clause

the Necessary and Proper Clause

the Second Amendment

the Fourteenth Amendment

the Tenth Amendment

Correct answer:

the Fourteenth Amendment

Explanation:

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) is one of the most famous Supreme Court cases in American history. Certainly it is the most famous case of the civil rights era. It overturned the 1896 decision of Plessy v. Ferguson, which had originally ruled that segregation was legal under the "separate, but equal" idea. The Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that "separate but equal" segregation was inherently not equal and violated the Equal Protection Clause established in the Fourteenth Amendment.

Example Question #1 : Notable Court Cases

The case of the Scottsboro boys demonstrated __________.

Possible Answers:

the negative impact of the media on the outcome of highly publicized trials

the abusive treatment of rape victims in the American legal system

the prevalence of racial injustice in the American legal system of the 1930s

the lack of equality and rights available to women in the American legal system

the ease and frequency with which the death penalty was employed

Correct answer:

the prevalence of racial injustice in the American legal system of the 1930s

Explanation:

The case of the Scottsboro boys centered around a group of African-Americans who were found guilty of raping two white teenage girls on a train in 1931 and were sentenced to the death penalty. The case was appealed on numerous occasions on the grounds that the boys had been denied a fair and equal trial process. It has come to represent the extent of institutionalized racism in the American legal system during the first half of the twentieth century.

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