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.
Empty judge's chair in courtroom

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 (6595 cases)
coding in process (670 cases)
Equal Employment (EE)
2928
164
Prison Conditions (PC)
659
59
Jail Conditions (JC)
634
14
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
591
5
Immigration (IM)
349
12
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
250
80
Juvenile Institution (JI)
170
5
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
155
18
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
139
12
Policing (PN)
136
20
Education (ED)
99
89
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
94
11
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (MR)
91
5
National Security (NS)
90
3
Child Welfare (CW)
53
3
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
45
4
Indigent Defense (PD)
32
5
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
32
6
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
24
1
School Desegregation (SD)
11
133
Public Housing (PH)
9
17
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
4
4
learn more about case types
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Over a hundred Catholic organizations and other religiously motivated plaintiffs--including both not-for-profit organizations and closely held corporations--have filed federal lawsuits challenging provisions of the Affordable Care Act that require coverage of contraception as part of health insurance. On June 30, 2014, the Supreme Court held that, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the contraception mandate could not be applied to closely-held corporations with sincere religious objections to it. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby (Alito, J.). The remaining cases will all now need to have additional proceedings to decide the impact of the Hobby Lobby decision on them. This Clearinghouse Special Collection brings together both Hobby Lobby and the other case decided with it by the Court, Conestoga Wood Specialities, and the other lawsuits like them.

Relevant case(s) include:
There have been unprecedented volumes of disclosures about FISA matters over the past year—between the Edward Snowden documents, FOIA-litigation-driven declassifications by the government, the FISA Court’s new on-line docket, and papers filed in district court cases around the country, for the first time, there’s now lots of information out there about FISA implementation. The Clearinghouse has assembled a comprehensive presentation of FISA litigation information, including all the declassified FISA Court cases, and lots of cases dealing with FISA in U.S. District Courts – not only the recent disclosures but the few FISA Court opinions declassified years ago, as well. (This one, from 1981, is particularly interesting – it's when the FISA Court held that FISA did not authorize a physical search.) All of this is retrievable and searchable from our regular search page, but for ease of reference, we've put together some ready-made groupings:
FISA – All Matters
FISA Court
FISA – Telephony Metadata (Section 215)
FISA – Internet Metadata (PR/TT)
FISA – Foreign Targeting (Section 702, 703, 704)


Since the Supreme Court's June 26, 2013, decision in Windsor v. United States, holding the federal Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional as an affront to the equality of same-sex couples, litigation has multiplied. The Court emphasized in Windsor 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. And so far, each federal district court court to address the question has found that marriage equality is constitutionally compelled. Today, the first appellate decision joined that crowd. The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the same-sex marriage ban in Utah. 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.