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.
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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.

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 (7503 cases)
coding in process (725 cases)
Equal Employment (EE)
Prison Conditions (PC)
Jail Conditions (JC)
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
Immigration (IM)
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
Policing (PN)
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
Juvenile Institution (JI)
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
Education (ED)
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
National Security (NS)
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (ID)
Child Welfare (CW)
School Desegregation (SD)
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
Indigent Defense (PD)
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
Public Housing (PH)
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On March 23rd, 2016, the Supreme Court will hear this case about employers who don’t want birth control to be part of the health insurance they offer their employees. The case came together from seven challenges filed around the country by nonprofit religious employers. Officially known as Zubik v. Burwell, more people have probably heard about another one of the seven, Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell. In a prior birth control challenge, Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, the Court decided in 2014 that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) barred the government from enforcing the birth control mandate against public companies owned by a small number of people who claimed sincere religious beliefs. In Zubik, the Court will decide whether the current regulatory fix, letting religious employers notify HHS instead of their health insurer about their objection to about their objection to birth control coverage for their employees, still violates the RFRA. Decision is expected by the end of June.

A Clearinghouse Special Collection brings together all the contraception mandate cases.

Relevant case(s) include:
In an opinion issued June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court struck down the ban on same-sex marriage, nationwide.

Before the Court were four consolidated same-sex marriage cases: bergefell v. Hodges (out of Ohio), Tanco v. Haslam (Tennessee), DeBoer v. Snyder (Michigan), and Bourke v. Beshear (Kentucky). In each of these cases, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals had rejected the plaintiffs' arguments that the Constitution requires same-sex marriage equality. Lots of background on the cases, and the rest of the Clearinghouse's large collection of same-sex marriage cases, available here.

Relevant case(s) include:
On March 4, the U.S. Department of Justice released a scathing report against the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court, finding that both had committed wholesale violations of the civil rights of the people of Ferguson. The Clearinghouse has collected documents from this matter, and also the other cases DOJ has brought against other police departments. See the whole collection here.

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)

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: