8 More Cases Everyone Should Know from the Rehnquist Court

Gratz, Grutter, Lawrence, McConnell, Raich, Kelo, McCreary County, and Van Orden

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Here is another preview of the 11-hour video library from our new book, An Introduction to Constitutional Law: 100 Supreme Court Cases Everyone Should KnowThis post will focus on the final batch of cases from the Rehnquist Court.

Gratz v. Bollinger (2003)

Grutter v. Bollinger (2003)

Lawrence v. Texas (2003)

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)

Gonzales v. Raich (2005)

Kelo v. City of New London (2005)

McCreary County, Kentucky v. ACLU of Kentucky (2005)

Van Orden v. Perry (2005)


You can also download the E-Book or stream the videos.

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  1. More than twice as many cases from the Rehnquist Court as from the Warren Court were deemed noteworthy in this survey?

    1. At any given time more recent rulings will have greater importance as they are more the current law, while earlier cases can be overturned or are seen as history leading to the current state of the law.

      And while you keep decrying the Warren Court’s absence particularly of the criminal justice rulings remember that they all stand for a single proposition, incorporation. Most of them were not the original pronouncement of the BoR (Gideon for example only incoporated the 6th, the interpretation of the 6th was Johnson v Zerbst). But with all this even incorporation wasn’t originally in the Warren Court. Yes the rulings are important but in terms of making new law they really merged the current law, rather than announce new principles. So in a limited list it is perfectly reasonable that others are more important.

      1. “And while you keep decrying the Warren Court’s absence particularly of the criminal justice rulings”

        You appear to have me confused with someone else.

        1. So which Warren Court rulings are missing?

          1. I haven’t studied that point. I also never commented on the lineup before today, let alone with respect to the Warren Court or with respect to criminal decisions, which makes your comment about my illusory comments inexplicable.

            The Warren period was probably as long, or nearly as long, as the Rehnquist period. I expect the Warren Court — which improved America in bold strokes — to be studied and recognized long after the Rehnquist Court — a caretaker operation — has been forgotten. In that context, a 2-1 lineup favoring the Rehnquist Court seems curious. Toss in the Roberts Court and it might be 40 or even 50 percent of nearly 250 years of jurisprudence deemed most noteworthy by this survey to have been the work of Republicans during the most recent 35 years. That sounds, at first hearing, like a Federalist Society presentation.

            1. You’re right I confused you with Dilan Esper

              But the rest makes no sense. The importance of a decision doesn’t relate to partisanship. That you think only liberal decisions can be noteworthy is astounding. Of course that this list has included Roe, Lawrence, Romer and more is apparently of no significance to you.

              Specifically though, you can’t just say the Rehnquist Court was right of center so dismiss those cases. By my count the Federalist Society (since you brought them up) would hate 9 and be mixed on 4 of the cases mentioned regarding the Rehnquist Court. That is out of 23 listed or more than half. I also count another 3 that had wide support from both sides. So tell me how that reads as a Federalist Society presentation?

              1. I did not assert that only liberal decisions can be noteworthy, at least in part because I do not believe that to be true. Instead, I indicated it was curious that Rehnquist decisions seem to be roughly twice as likely to be deemed noteworthy as Warren decisions in this survey.

                I did not say ‘Rehnquist Court was right of center so dismiss those cases.’ I observed that the Warren Court appears to be generally considered a notable and important author of American progress while the Rehnquist Court seems destined to be regarded as a caretaker institution lacking lasting import.

  2. I got the book. To a non-lawyer, it’s pretty good!

  3. I don’t understand what these previews are for. If I did not already know the cases, I don’t believe I would have any idea what they are even talking about. For example, the Gratz v. Bollinger preview opens with the Chief saying… something about something. It has no context or explanation.

  4. Amazon says this about buying the book:

    “FREE delivery: Oct 23 – Nov 9 Details
    Deliver to Robert – Annapolis 21401‌
    Usually ships within 1 to 2 months.
    Ships from and sold by”

    Two months? Hell, if that’s the best I can do, I might as well wait until it comes up on

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