University of Michigan Law School
The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collects documents and information from civil rights cases in specific case categories across the United States. It is available to scholars, teachers, students, policymakers, advocates, and the public, to allow greater understanding of civil rights litigation in this country.
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This page of the site highlights cases that seem to us particularly interesting—because they are being litigated right now, or because they involve large numbers of people and very consequential issues, or because of their historical importance. But there are hundreds of cases in the Clearinghouse that could equally well qualify for "featured" status. We hope you enjoy exploring the collection.




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COLLECTION STATISTICS
Our case collection grows daily. The graphs below give you a glimpse into what has already been done as well as the cases still in the works.

coding completed (6452 cases)
coding in process (629 cases)
Equal Employment (EE)
2910
181
Prison Conditions (PC)
653
55
Jail Conditions (JC)
628
17
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
578
14
Immigration (IM)
348
8
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
227
84
Juvenile Institution (JI)
162
13
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
149
22
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
136
7
Policing (PN)
126
19
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (MR)
91
1
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
90
9
Education (ED)
82
95
National Security (NS)
63
19
Child Welfare (CW)
53
3
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
45
4
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
32
6
Indigent Defense (PD)
32
5
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
23
1
School Desegregation (SD)
11
47
Public Housing (PH)
9
16
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
4
3
learn more about case types
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On June 26, 2013, in Windsor v. United States, the Supreme Court held the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional as an affront to the equality of same-sex couples. Justice Kennedy wrote for the 5-person majority, and explained:
"The Constitution’s guarantee of equality 'must at the very least mean that a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group cannot' justify disparate treatment of that group. Department of Agriculture v. Moreno, 413 U. S. 528, 534–535 (1973). In determining whether a law is motived by an improper animus or purpose, '[d]iscriminations of an unusual character’” especially require careful consideration. Supra, at 19 (quoting Romer, supra, at 633). DOMA cannot survive under these principles." "DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality."

The Court emphasized that it was NOT holding that states had to allow same-sex marriages: "This opinion and its holding are confined to . . . lawful marriages," it said. In many states, then, challenges to bans on same-sex marriage have proceeded. All those decisions, and lots of background on the cases, are part of the Clearinghouse's large collection of same-sex marriage cases, available here.

Relevant case(s) include:
In this landmark case, brought in 1995, decided by the Supreme Court in 1999, and concluded in the district court in 2000, persons unnecessarily confined to institutions for care relating to mental or intellectual disabilities won the right to state-funded community-based treatment options. The U.S. Supreme Court held that unjustified segregation in institutions constitutes illegal discrimination, under the Americans with Disabilities Act, not only because it perpetuates unwarranted assumptions that people with disabilities are incapable or unworthy of participating in community life, but because confinement in an institution severely curtails everyday life activities, such as family relations, social contacts, work, educational advancement and cultural enrichment. The Supreme Court decision has led to an entire category of litigation (usually referred to as "Olmstead litigation"); the Clearinghouse has collected over a hundred of these cases here.

Relevant case(s) include:
The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse has assembled a number of special case collections. These are accessible from the case search page, or right from this list:
Employment discrimination cases:
In addition, we have grouped together cases brought by the same law offices , including (for example) the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division; the national ACLU; the Prison Law Office; and others. These too are accessible from the case search page.

In a large-scale research project funded by the National Science Foundation, scholars associated with the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Michigan, have collected data on federal court litigation brought between 1997 and 2006 by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency charged with enforcing the laws forbidding discrimination by private employers on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, and disability. The data capture various aspects of the agency's litigation activities, including detailed information regarding the participants, motions, events, and outcomes. The project is described and the data posted here. And for each case included, the Clearinghouse posts, here, the available key documents -- the docket sheet, complaint, and injunction/settlement/court order.

Even though this is the most famous civil rights case ever, the relevant litigation documents are not easy to come by. The Supreme Court decisions, in 1954 (announcing the rule that "separate is inherently unequal") and 1955 (announcing that remediation of Jim Crow school segregation could proceed "with all deliberate speed"), were obviously extraordinarily important, and are easily available. But the litigation in Topeka lasted from the filing of the first complaint in 1951 until final dismissal of the case in 1999. The Clearinghouse has copies of many of the crucial documents in the case.

Relevant case(s) include:



The Clearinghouse has been generously supported by the National Science Foundation.