In honor of Loving Day today (the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia), here are some landmark U.S. Supreme Court decisions in civil rights history you should know about! You'd be surprised how close some of these dates are to present day. All this comes from my pre-law studies. ListApp 3L @jennifwah is the real authority, though.
  1. Loving v. Virginia (1967)
    48 years ago, 9-0 ruling. Invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. Before this, an overwhelming majority of states had anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting people of color from marrying white people. This includes California which had laws specifically keeping black, Asian, and Filipino people from marrying whites and Latinos. If this were still a thing, my dating history would put me on some sort of criminal watch list!
  2. Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
    51 years ago, 9-0 ruling. Made segregated public schools illegal, because the "separate but equal" doctrine was inherently unequal. The South did not respond well to this ruling. Virginia's governor opted to close schools in protest rather than integrate. Arkansas's governor deployed the National Guard to block the Little Rock Nine from attending an all white school to which Eisenhower replied FUCK YOU HERE IS THE 101ST AIRBORNE DIVISION LET THESE KIDS GO TO SCHOOL
  3. Korematsu v. U.S. (1944)
    69 years ago, 6-3 ruling. One of many uncomfortable moral blemishes on the Supreme Court's record. Ruled Executive Order 9066 ordering internment of Japanese Americans (violating their individual rights) constitutional. Fred Korematsu's conviction for refusing to relocate to a Japanese American internment camp was upheld with this ruling but overturned in 1983 in NorCal District Court. Constitutional ruling re: the Executive Order itself still stands...which is scary.
  4. Lau v Nichols (1974)
    41 years ago, 8-0 ruling. Deemed the San Francisco public school system's failure to provide English language classes to Chinese American students who couldn't speak English discriminatory and denied equal educational opportunities based on ethnicity/nationality. The result: ESL classes in public schools and better educational access for 1st generation immigrant students.
  5. Roe v. Wade (1973)
    42 years ago, 7-2 ruling. The right to privacy extends to the right to have an abortion...mostly. Pregnant people had full autonomy through the 1st trimester. States could intervene in the 2nd with regulations in the interest of "maternal health" and straight up prohibit abortion of a "viable fetus" (can live outside the womb) in the 3rd, unless carrying pregnancy to term is life threatening to the mother. There are MANY more rulings after this that require their own list.
  6. Lawrence and Garner v. Texas (2003)
    12 years ago, 6-3 ruling. Texas statute criminalizing same sex sexual conduct was unconstitutional. Adults have the liberty to engage in private consensual sexual conduct without governmental intervention under the Due Process Clause because there was no legitimate state interest to justify the intrusion of their right to privacy. This overturned Bowers v Hardwick (1984, no pun intended) that originally gave states the authority to be nosy judgey homophobic assholes.
  7. U.S. V. Windsor (2013)
    2 years ago, 5-4 ruling. Ruled Section 3 of Defense of Marriage Act restricting interpretation of marriage to heterosexual unions unconstitutional, because DOMA's purpose and effect was to impose a “disadvantage, a separate status, and so a stigma” on same-sex couples in violation of the 5th Amendment & equal protection. Even if a state doesn't recognize same sex marriage, gay couples are recognized federally for things like taxes, Medicaid/Medicare, & employment benefits.
  8. There are plenty more and I will keep adding, but more law nerds should also contribute!
  9. Mendez v. Westminster (1947)
    Integrated Mexican-American and White schools in Orange County. Precursor to Brown v. Board of Education.
    Suggested by @erinhickey
  10. Diana v. State Board of Education
    A class action suit filed on behalf of nine Hispanic children who were forced to take an individually administered IQ test in English and, as a result, were labeled with educable mental retardation. When retested by a Spanish-speaking examiner, only one of the nine children was classified as EMR.
    Suggested by @SGGinNYC
  11. Larry P. v. Riles
    The overrepresentation of minority children in EMR classes throughout San Francisco was determined to be due to unfair educational practices, including teacher bias.
    Suggested by @SGGinNYC
  12. Boy Scouts of America v. Dale (2000). Thanks @bobbyhundreds!
    15 years ago, 5-4 ruling. The Boy Scouts revoked adult membership for a troop leader when they found out he was gay and a gay rights activist. SCOTUS ruled that the Boy Scouts (a private not-for-profit org) had a constitutional right to ban gays from involvement with the organization through its First Amendment right to freedom of association. Read Stevens' dissent, where he asserts that homophobia/discrimination could get worse with the "creation of a constitutional shield".