University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collects documents and information from civil rights cases across the United States. It is available to scholars, teachers, students, policymakers, advocates, and the public, to allow greater understanding of historical and contemporary American civil rights litigation.
Immigrantion protesters with American flags

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.

Our collection contains 9693 published cases and grows daily. The graphs below give you a glimpse into what has already been done as well as the cases still in the works. Note that an individual case can have more than one category.

coding completed
coding in process
Equal Employment (EE)
Prison Conditions (PC)
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
Jail Conditions (JC)
Immigration and/or the Border (IM)
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
Education (ED)
Policing (PN)
School Desegregation (SD)
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
National Security (NS)
Juvenile Institution (JI)
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (ID)
Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority (PR)
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
Child Welfare (CW)
Indigent Defense (PD)
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
Public Housing (PH)
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
Environmental Justice (EJ)
learn more about case types
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A new Clearinghouse special collection focuses on challenges to labor practices at immigrant detention centers across the country. Persons currently or formerly held in civil immigration detention centers sued either GEO Group or Core Civic, two private companies that operate prisons and detention centers. They alleged that these defendants maintained a combination of illegal labor practices including wage theft, unjust enrichment, and forced labor, including requiring work for little or no pay. Plaintiffs have brought claims under state causes of action, the federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act and 18 U.S.C. § 1589, the federal law prohibiting forced labor. Courts in several of these cases have granted class certification.

Notably, on October 29, 2021, a jury in the Western District of Washington awarded the plaintiff class a verdict of $17.3 million in backpay in Chen v. GEO Group, in which plaintiffs sued GEO Group for paying workers $1/day in violation of state law. The state of Washington also brought a companion case to Chen, Washington v. GEO Group. There, the court held a jury trial in June 2021, and the jury awarded the state a judgment of $5,950,340 and enjoined GEO Group from continuing “the Voluntary Work Program,” which it had been operating without paying workers the minimum wage.

The special collection is here.

Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, on May 25, 2020. Nationwide protests followed, often under the banner "Black Lives Matter." A Clearinghouse Special Collection brings together relevant litigation, including cases that challenge
    Police use of chemical agents, rubber bullets, etc.
    Police arrests/assaults of reporters
    Denial of permits
    Excessive force and unlawful arrests
    Race discrimination against protesters/media
    Dispersal of protests in violation of the First Amendment
The collection focuses on group cases and class actions, rather than individual damage actions. It is growing; please send any suggestions for inclusion to

The special collection is here.

A subset of this collection are cases challenging federal police in particular, Washington DC, Portland, and other cities, as they've been deployed by the Administration and clashed with protesters. Those cases are pulled out here.

We're posting information about and documents from civil rights cases that address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing, etc. They are here. We have also made this CSV report available, which shows some details of these cases.

If you know of a case that is NOT listed, please email us:

We'll try to update these cases in close-to-real-time.

In April 2014, the city of Flint, MI began to draw water from the Flint River without adequately treating the water to prevent pipe corrosion. As a result, lead pipes degraded and lead leached into Flint’s water supply. Despite complaints from some of the approximately 100,000 afflicted residents and tests that indicated elevated lead levels, Flint did not switch to a safer water source until October 2015. The governor appointed an investigative commission that identified "government failure[s], intransigence, unpreparedness, delay, [and] inaction" leading to the crisis.

Individuals, businesses, and other organizations have filed numerous lawsuits against local and state officials and contractors involved in the Flint water crisis. The Clearinghouse will follow these cases closely as the litigation proceeds.

Relevant case(s) include:
On February 26, 2019, a federal district court issued a ruling in Goodman v. Davis that enjoined employees of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from enforcing a policy that prevented prisoners from wearing long hair as required by the Native American plaintiffs’ religious beliefs. The judge found that the Department failed to support its claims that long-haired prisoners posed a security risk, especially because female prisoners were already allowed to wear long hair, and concluded that its policy violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA).

This case developed from a pro se plaintiff’s challenge to a number of prison rules, including ones that prevented him from smoking a prayer pipe and wearing medicine bags. While the district court (later affirmed by the Fifth Circuit) dismissed the majority of the original claims, the pro se plaintiff’s RLUIPA claim survived long enough for his case to be consolidated with similar lawsuits and for the plaintiffs to obtain pro bono counsel in 2018, six years after the litigation began.

Relevant case(s) include:
In Daves v. Dallas, eight arrestees challenged Dallas County’s policy of demanding standardized bail amounts without considering whether or not they could afford to pay. The district court certified a class of arrestees who were in jail because they could not afford bail and issued a preliminary injunction against the County. The defendants have appealed to the Fifth Circuit, and the case is ongoing.

The Clearinghouse is following Daves as part of a special collection on Fines, Fees, and Bail Reform. Individuals and advocacy organizations across the country have challenged government policies that keep pretrial detainees who cannot afford bail in jail or impose fines and fees for low-level offenses that defendants cannot afford to pay and then jail them if they fail to pay. For more information, see the list of fines, fees, and bail reform cases.

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)
Criminal Cases Challenging FISA Surveillance

The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse has assembled a number of special case collections. These are accessible from the case search page, or (for many) 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.

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: