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In American constitutional law, as in life, there are few questions that cannot be answered by rock and roll.  These major cases are recast in musical terms.  Each case has an alternate name, derived from a popular band or performer, and each ruling is represented by a song from that musical act.

The links will redirect you to the Supreme Court’s original opinions, as well as the performers and their respective songs.  To examine the companion list, The Supreme Court of Rock and Roll, click here.

Original CaseRock and Roll Case
Marbury v. Madison (1803)

Marbury v. Madness

Over what branch of government may the Supreme Court exercise judicial review?

Our House

Martin v. Hunter’s Lessee (1816)
 Marten Years After v. Hunter’s Lessee

Can the Supreme Court assert the authority to review state court decisions on issues of federal law?

I’d Like to Change the World

Ex Parte McCardle (1869)
Ex Parte McHeartle

What power does the Supreme Court possess after Congress withdraws its appellate jurisdiction?

Nothing At All

Baker v. Carr (1962)
Baker v. Carrly Simon

Is the Supreme Court competent to judge the question of legislative apportionment?

Nobody Does It Better

Nixon v. U.S. (1993)
Stevie Nickson v. U.S.

Are the Senate’s procedures for impeachment a justiciable question?

Stand Back

Flast v. Cohen (1968)
The Clasht v. Cohen

Do taxpayers have standing to challenge government spending?

I Fought The Law

Bush v. Gore (2000)
Bush v. Lesley Gore

Can a presidential candidate seek relief in the Supreme Court to stop a state’s ballot recount that would likely result in that candidate losing the election?

Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows

McGrain v. Daugherty (1927)
McRaitt v. Daugherty

Does Congress have the power to compel private individuals to appear before it and provide testimony?

Something To Talk About

Watkins v. U.S. (1957)
Watkins (Not Watkins) v. U.S.

May the House Un-American Activities Committee compel a witness to expose members of the Communist Party?

Spy in the House of Love

Barenblatt v. U.S. (1959)
Men Without Barenblatts v. U.S.

Upon what authority may Congress invest in a committtee the power to investigate Communist activity?

The Safety Dance

South Carolina v. Katzenbach (1966)
South Carolina v. Straycatzenbach

Does Congress have the power to send federal officials to monitor state elections?

Rev It Up And Go

Clinton v. City of New York (1998)
Clintoto v. City of New York

May the President cancel individual items in an appropriations bill?

Hold The Line

Morrison v. Olson (1988)
Marrivon Gaye v. Olson

Can the federal courts appoint an independent counsel with subpoena power?

Can I Get A Witness

U.S. v. Nixon (1974)
U.S. v. Nickson Lowe

Can the President assert absolute executive privilege to withhold information in a criminal investigation?

All Men Are Liars

Clinton v. Jones (1997)

Clinton v. Jonsi Mitchell

Is a sitting president entitled to absolute immunity from civil suit?

Help Me

(B-Side / Free Man in Paris*)

* “The way I see it,” he said, “You just can’t win it.”

U.S. v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corp. (1936)
U.S. v. Curtis Mayfield Export Corp.

Is the President authorized to impose an embargo on the sale of planes to Bolivia?

Super Fly

INS v. Chada (1983)
INXS v. Chadha

Is Congress required to present a legislative veto to the President?

What You Need

Bowsher v. Synar (1986)
Lauper v. Synar

Do the powers assigned to the Comptroller General under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act violate the separation of powers?

Money Changes Everything

The Prize Cases (1863)
The Lloyd Prize Cases

Did President Lincoln have the authority to impose a naval blockade of southern ports in the absence of a declaration of war?

Stagger Lee

(As in, Lincoln’s war power will enable him to “stagger” — i.e., to stun or to cause to waver or falter — the South’s military commander.)

Ex Parte Milligan (1866)
Ex Parte Millincamp

Can the president use martial law when the civil courts are operational?

The Authority Song

Ex Parte Quirin (1942)
Ex Parte Berlin

May the President use military commissions to try, convict, and sentence to death Nazi saboteurs?

Take My Breath Away

Korematsu v. U.S. (1944)
Korematsupertramp v. U.S.

Does the president have the power to hold Japanese Americans in internment camps during World War II?

Goodbye Stranger

Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer (1952)
Neil Youngstown Sheet & Tube v. Sawyer

What power does the President possess in times of national emergency?


Dames & Moore v. Regan (1981)
 Dames & Doors v. Regan

Does the president have the power to enter into an excutive agreement with another nation, without authorization from Congress, to resolve an international crisis?

Back Door Man

Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004)
 Hamdi v. Humbled Pie

Can the exectuive detain indefinitely an enemy combatant?

30 Days In The Hole

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)
McCulture Club v. Maryland

Can Maryland use its taxing power to destroy the national government?

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me

Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857)
Dred Scott v. Santanaford

May a slave sue for his freedom in federal court?

No One To Depend On

Printz v. U.S. (1997)
Prince v. U.S.

When may the federal government commandeer state law enforcement officials to implement federal law?

When Doves Cry

Alden v. 10,000 Maineiacs

Does the text of the 11th Amendment mean that states enjoy sovereign immunity only in federal court?

More Than This

Gibb v. Ogden

Does Congress’s power over interstate commerce extend to all commercial intercourse?

I Just Want To Be Your Everything

U.S. v. E.C. Knight Co. (1895)
U.S. v. E.C. Knight and the Pips

Given a distinction between production and commerce, which may Congress regulate under the Commerce Clause?

Midnight Train to Georgia

Stafford v. Paper Wallace

Can Congress use the Packers & Stockyards Act to prohibit conspriacies to restrain trade in the meat industy?

The Night Chicago Died

Champion v. Elmore James

Are lottery tickets items of commerce subject to congressional regulation?

Shake Your Money Maker

Hammer v. Dagenhart (1918)
MC Hammer v. Dagenhart

Can Congress prohibit the interstate shipment of the products of child labor?

Can’t Touch This

Schechter Poultry Corp. v. U.S. (1935)
Schychtyr Pyltry Corp. v. U.S.

May Congress regulate the sale of unhealthy chickens?

Free Bird

NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. (1937)
NLRB v. Vogues & Laughlin Steel Corp.

Does Congress have the power to regulate labor-management disputes?

Five O’Clock World

U.S. v. Darby Lumber Co. (1941)
U.S. v. Yardbird Lumber Co.

To what extent may Congress regulate intrastate activity that affects interstate commerce?

Over Under Sideways Down

Wickard v. Filburn (1942)
Dionne Warwickard v. Filburn

Is it within the power of Congress to regulate wheat not intended for commerce but wholly for consumption on a farm?

I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S. (1964)
Tom Petty & The Heart of Atlanta Motel v. U.S.

Where does the Civil Rights Act place a local racially-discriminatory public accommodation that advertises to interstate travelers?

Into The Great Wide Open

Katzenbach v. McClung (1964)
Katzenbachman-Turner Overdrive v. McClung

Can Congress utilize its commerce power to achieve social ends?

You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

Garcia v. SAMTA (1985)
Garstevie v. SAMTA

May the national government impose minimum wage requirements for state and local employees?

Living For The City

U.S. v. Lopez (1995)
U.S. v. Elvis Costellopez

May Congress criminalize the possession of a firearm near a school?

Shot With His Own Gun

U.S. v. Morrison (2000)
U.S. v. Roy Morbisson

Does Congress have the power to enact the Violence Against Women Act?

Oh, Pretty Woman

Gonzales v. Raich (2005)
Gonzales v. Raicharles

Does Congress’s commerce power extend to the intrastate growth and use of marijuana for medical purposes?

Let’s Go Get Stoned

(B-Side / I Don’t Need No Doctor)

National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius (2012)
National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius Brothers & Sister Rose

May Congress use its taxing power to induce people to buy health insurance?

Too Late To Turn Back Now

Cooley v. Board of Wardens (1852)
Kooley & The Gang v. Board of Wardens

May a state place a local pilot on incoming ships?

Get Down On It

Hunt v. Washington State Apple Advertising Commission (1977)
Hunt v. Washington State Appolice Advertising Commission

Can a state enact a protectionist label law to discourage residents from purchasing out-of-state apples?

Can’t Stand Losing You

Maine v. Taylor (1986)
The Mainvelettes v. Taylor

Does a state ban on the importation of live bait burden interstate commerce?

Too Many Fish In The Sea

Granholm v. Heald (2005)Granholm v. Jerry Heald Lewis

Does a state law prohbiting out-of-state wineries from making sales directly to consumers violate the Commerce Clause?

Drinkin’ Wine, Spo-Dee-O-Dee

McCray v. U.S. (1904)
The McCraytions v. U.S.

Can Congress aid the dairy industry by taxing margarine in order to discourage its purchase?

Build Me Up Buttercup

Bailey v. Drexel Furniture Co. (1922)
Bill Baley & His Comets v. Drexel Furniture Co.

Can Congress regulate the working hours of children?

Rock Around the Clock

South Dakota v. Dole (1987)
South Dakota v. Bob Dolan

May Congress withhold federal highway funds in order to encourage states to raise their drinking ages?

Positively 4th Street

Fletcher v. Peck (1810)
Fletcher v. Peck Floyd

What makes a land transaction valid under the Contract Clause when a prior transaction was fraudulent?


Dartmouth College v. Woodward (1819)
Carsmouth College v. Woodward

Can a state alter a private college’s charter to convert that school into a public institution?

Why Can’t I Have You

Charles River Bridge v. Warren Bridge (1837)
Charles River Bridge v. War Bridge

Can two publicly chartered bridges exist side-by-side on the same river?

Why Can’t We Be Friends

Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdell (1934)
 Home Building & Loan Association v. Blaisdelfonics

Does a state law altering the terms of home mortgage agreements violate the Contract Clause?

Break Your Promise

Allied Structural Steel Co. v. Spannaus (1978)
Allied Structural Steel Co. v. Spannau Ballet

What prevents a state from altering the pension plan of a private employer?


The Slaughterhouse Cases (1873)
The Slaughter Crowded House Cases

Did the passage of the Fourteenth Amendment transfer protection of civil rights from the states to the national government?

Don’t Dream It’s Over

Lochner v. New York (1905)
Tone-Locner v. New York

What may individuals do under the liberty of contract?

Wild Thing

Muller v. Oregon (1908)
Mulli Vanilli v. Oregon

May the state protect the physical wellbeing of women by setting maximum hours for their work in factories and laundries?

Girl You Know It’s True

Adkins v. Children’s Hospital (1923)
Donnadkins Summer v. Children’s Hospital

Does Congress have the power to establish a minimum wage for women?

She Works Hard For The Money

West Coast Hotel v. Parrish (1937)
West Coast Hotel v. Parrishalamar

Can a state require that a minimum wage be paid to a chambermaid in a hotel?

Dancing in the Sheets

U.S. v. Causby (1946)
U.S. v. Zaumby

May the federal government build a military airbase that renders a nearby chicken farm useless?

Tell Her No

Penn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City (1978)
The 5th Dimenn Central Transportation Co. v. New York City

Is a prohibition on constructing a high-rise office building on top of a historic landmark a taking?

Up, Up and Away

Nollan Stones v. California Coastal Commission

Is it a taking when the state conditions a building permit on a beachfront property owner allowing a public pathway on the property?

Street Fighting Man

Lucas v. South Carolina Coastal Council (1992)
Lucas v. South Carolina Coasters Council

Is a ban on all economicaly viable use of property a taking?

There Goes My Baby

Berman v. Parker (1954)
Chuck Berryman v. Parker

Can a commerical property be taken for the purposes of eliminating substandard residential property?

Come On

Kelo v. City of New London (2005)
Keloggins & Messina v. City of New London

What property may the state take for the purposes of economic development?

House At Pooh Corner