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 7793 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.

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Equal Employment (EE)
Prison Conditions (PC)
Jail Conditions (JC)
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
Immigration and/or the Border (IM)
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
Education (ED)
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
Policing (PN)
National Security (NS)
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
Juvenile Institution (JI)
School Desegregation (SD)
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (ID)
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
Child Welfare (CW)
Presidential Authority (PR)
Indigent Defense (PD)
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
Public Housing (PH)
Environmental Justice (EJ)
learn more about case types
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During his first week in office, President Trump issued three Executive Orders relating to immigration and refugee policy, acting on promises he made during his presidential campaign. The two immigration orders, available here and here directed much heavier use of detention for those seeking lawful status, punitive measures against so-called "sanctuary jurisdictions," an increase to the number of deportation officers, and building of a border wall. The original order on refugees, available here, totally barred admission into the United States of all nationals of Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen—including those who are already legal greencard holders here. It suspended the refugee program for all countries for 120 days (indefinitely for Syria).

Since then, the Trump Administration has continued to issue newly restrictive immigration policies, most notably announcing the rescission of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), a program that provided limited protections to undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children.

After each new order, litigation challenging it ensued immediately. The Clearinghouse has been tracking that litigation on the following special collection pages:

Travel Ban Litigation

Immigration Enforcement Order Litigation

FOIA Requests Pertaining to Trump Administration Immigration Policy

The Trump Administration has made restrictive immigration policy central to its work. The Clearinghouse will continue to follow these cases closely and create new collections as new policy emerges.

This lawsuit by Gavin Grimm, a trangender boy, challenges the Gloucester County School Board's bathroom policy that expels trans students from communal restrooms and requires them to use “alternative private” restroom facilities. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that Gavin had a right to use the boys room at his high school--but the Supreme Court stayed the lower court order implementing that decision, and was set to hear the case on March 28, 2017. On March 6, however, in light of the Trump Administration's change of position on the underlying issue, the Court cancelled its hearing and remanded the matter to the Court of Appeals for further proceedings.

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 (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.

During the Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Justice brought dozens of cases after finding that city police departments had committed wholesale civil rights violations. The Clearinghouse has collected documents from those cases See the whole collection here. It is unclear how the Trump administration will handle these matters.

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:
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: