University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Sandoval v. Alexander IM-AL-0004
Docket / Court 2:96-cv-01875-ID-SRW ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On December 31, 1996, a non-English speaking Alabama resident filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, challenging the policy of Alabama Department of Public Safety under which driver's license examinations were administered only in ... read more >
On December 31, 1996, a non-English speaking Alabama resident filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, challenging the policy of Alabama Department of Public Safety under which driver's license examinations were administered only in English. Plaintiff alleged that the policy was unconstitutional and in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981, 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d, et seq., and its implementing regulations. Attorneys with the Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California, Inc., the Employment Law Center, and private firms represented the plaintiff.

The District Court certified the case as a class action, with the class defined as "all legal residents of the State of Alabama who are otherwise qualified to obtain a Class D private vehicle driver's license but cannot do so because they are not sufficiently fluent in English."

Following a hearing, the District Court (Judge Ira De Ment) issued an extensive opinion, finding that the regulation had impermissible disparate impact on basis of national origin in violation of Title VI, and was not supported by substantial legitimate justification. The Court issued a permanent injunction barring enforcement of the regulation. Sandoval v. Hagan, 7 F.Supp.2d 1234 (M.D.Ala. 1998). The State appealed and the Appellate Court affirmed. Sandoval v. Hagan, 197 F.3d 484 (11th Cir. 999). The State's petition for rehearing and suggestion for rehearing en banc was denied. Sandoval v. Hagan, 211 F.3d 133 (11th Cir. 2000).

The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Alexander v. Sandoval, 530 U.S. 1305, 121 S.Ct. 28, 147 L.Ed.2d 1051 (U.S. Sep 26, 2000). The Supreme Court reversed the district court's judgment, holding that that individuals could not sue federally funded agencies over policies that had an unjustified discriminatory impact on members of minority groups. Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 121 S.Ct. 1511, 149 L.Ed.2d 517 (2001).

On remand, the Appellate Court entered an order reversing its prior opinion, vacating the district court's decision and remanding the case for dismissal in accordance with the Supreme Court's judgment. Sandoval v. Hagan, 268 F.3d 1065 (11th Cir. 2001).

It is reported that despite the Supreme Court ruling, Alabama continues to offer the driver's tests in eight foreign languages.

Dan Dalton - 12/12/2007


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Immigration
Constitutional rights
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Title VI, Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq.
42 U.S.C. § 1983
42 U.S.C. § 1981
Defendant(s) Alabama Department of Public Safety
Plaintiff Description Legal residents of the State of Alabama who are otherwise qualified to obtain a Class D private vehicle driver’s license but cannot do so because they are not sufficiently fluent in English.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2001
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links The Oyez Project, Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275 (2001).
www.oyez.org
Posted: Apr. 24, 2001
By: Oyez Project (IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
2:96-cv-01875-ID-SRW (M.D. Ala.) 09/25/2001
IM-AL-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Memorandum Opinion, Judgment, Declaration, Order, and Permanent Injunction 06/05/1998 (7 F.Supp.2d 1234) (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0004-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
USCA Opinion 11/30/1999 (197 F.3d 484)
IM-AL-0004-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Google Scholar
Denials of Rehearing En Banc 02/29/2000 (211 F.3d 133)
IM-AL-0004-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Order Granting Petition for Writ of Certiorari 09/26/2000 (530 U.S. 1305)
IM-AL-0004-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Certiorari 04/24/2001 (532 U.S. 275)
IM-AL-0004-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
USCA Order 07/16/2001 (268 F.3d 1065)
IM-AL-0004-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Judges De Ment, Ira (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Hull, Frank M. (N.D. Ga., Eleventh Circuit)
IM-AL-0004-0002
Marcus, Stanley (S.D. Fla., Eleventh Circuit)
IM-AL-0004-0002
Roney, Paul Hitch (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit, FISCR)
IM-AL-0004-0002
Walker, Susan Russ (M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
IM-AL-0004-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bowden, Ellen M. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Brownstein, Rhonda C. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0002 | IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Chen, Edward Milton (California)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Cohen, J. Richard (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0002 | IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Ho, Christopher (California)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Holliday, Shannon L. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0002 | IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Schultz, Mary Beth (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Stadeker, Marcia Bull (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0002 | IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Morrow, Robert E. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Park, John J. Jr. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0004-0002 | IM-AL-0004-0003 | IM-AL-0004-9000
Other Lawyers Galanter, Seth Michael (District of Columbia)
IM-AL-0004-0002

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