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.
Police office directs blurry traffic

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.







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 (7622 cases)
coding in process (653 cases)
Equal Employment (EE)
3046
130
Prison Conditions (PC)
773
60
Jail Conditions (JC)
676
14
Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (DR)
623
7
Immigration (IM)
432
3
Public Benefits / Government Services (PB)
352
45
Policing (PN)
207
30
Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (FH)
201
15
Juvenile Institution (JI)
185
1
Speech and Religious Freedom (FA)
183
4
Education (ED)
165
63
Criminal Justice (Other) (CJ)
163
33
National Security (NS)
148
30
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (ID)
100
5
Child Welfare (CW)
68
1
School Desegregation (SD)
64
163
Election/Voting Rights (VR)
61
14
Mental Health (Facility) (MH)
59
6
Indigent Defense (PD)
39
4
Public Accomm./Contracting (PA)
34
6
Nursing Home Conditions (NH)
26
3
Public Housing (PH)
17
16
learn more about case types
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In his first week in office, President Trump issued three Executive Orders relating to immigration and refugee policy. The two immigration orders, available here and here directed much heavier use of detention for those seeking lawful status, an increase to the number of deportation officers, and building of a border wall. The 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).

Legal challenges ensued immediately; the key cases and a spreadsheet of all the cases we know about dealing with the refugee/visa order are available at this Clearinghouse special page. And cases addressing the immigration enforcement orders are here.

The current status is that the Executive Order is on hold--in States of Washington and Minnesota v. Trump, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted a temporary injunction against its operation, and on Feb. 9, the 9th Circuit refused to stay that injunction. Litigation proceeds.

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 highschool--but the Supreme Court stayed the lower court order implementing that decision, and is hearing the case on March 28, 2017.

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: