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Test case (law) facts for kids

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In case law, a test case is a legal action whose purpose is to set a precedent. An example of a test case might be a person who files a lawsuit in order to see if the court considers a certain law or a certain legal precedent applies in certain circumstances. This is useful, for example, in order to later file similar lawsuits in similar circumstances. Sometimes, lawyers delay filing a lawsuit to wait and see how a test case is decided. Test cases are sometimes used to challenge a law to have it possibly overturned. Government agencies sometimes bring test cases in order to confirm or expand their powers.


Examples of influential test cases include:

  1. Plessy v. Ferguson (1896)
  2. Scopes v. Tennessee (1925)
  3. United States v. One Book Called Ulysses (1933)
  4. Brown v. Board of Education (1954)
  5. Griswold v. Connecticut (1965)
  6. Oneida Indian Nation of N.Y. State v. Oneida County (1974)
  7. Adams v Cape Industries plc (1990)
  8. Mabo v Queensland (No 2) (1992)
  9. National Westminster Bank plc v Spectrum Plus Limited (2005)
  10. District of Columbia v. Heller (2008)
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Test case (law) Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.