University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse

This collection is growing, both within already-collected case categories, and by adding new categories.

Jail Conditions (665 completed / 13 in process)
Prison Conditions (768 completed / 56 in process)
This part of the collection is, we believe, the largest existing compilation of information about injunctive correctional litigation. The cases span the time period from 1956 to the present. For the most part, we have included only cases in which plaintiffs either won or settled for some type of reform decree — cases in which the plaintiffs did not succeed in some way, and cases in which they won damages but no injunction, are mostly not included. The major exception is that the collection includes over a hundred jail and prison strip search class actions, even if the result was limited to damages rather than injunctive relief.

Juvenile Institution (181 completed / 1 in process)
African American boy sits in detention center

© Richard Ross (2012)

The Clearinghouse has collected over 150 cases dealing with conditions of confinement in juvenile institutions--both detention facilities (the equivalent of adult jails) and training schools (the equivalent of adult prisons). These cases raise most of the same issues as the jail and prison cases, but then add special education and other issues unique to youthful offenders.

Equal Employment (3023 completed / 130 in process)
This is a very large collection of equal employment cases involving discrimination on account of race, national origin, religion, sex, age, and disability. It includes a very large and systematically representative sample of the litigation brought by the EEOC between 1997 and 2006 (with a complete collection of the EEOC's class-action-like cases), many of the cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice beginning in the 1990s, and the largest collection available anywhere of private employment discrimination class actions. One large group of cases in this collection (collected here) are the subject of a National Science Foundation sponsored study whose data are posted at http://eeoclitigation.wustl.edu. Relevant studies are described here, here and here.

Immigration (426 completed / 4 in process)
Immigrant protest

The Clearinghouse has a very deep collection of relatively recent immigration class action cases, as well as cases involving large numbers of plaintiffs that are not, technically, class cases. These range widely: we include, for example, suits about conditions of confinement in immigration detention; suits about civil rights violations at workplace immigration enforcement raids; suits alleging RICO violations by employers of undocumented workers, etc. Our sources include the American Immigration Lawyers' Association (AILA), the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, and many other organizations and lawyers.

Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance (199 completed / 14 in process)
We have collected every case we could find between 1965 and 2006 in which a class of plaintiffs (or a class-like organizational plaintiff) succeeded in obtaining a fair housing or fair lending remedy in a race discrimination case. In addition, we have a major project underway to incorporate Department of Justice litigation since 1995 and more broadly the cases from 2006 to present. These are in addition to the Public Housing cases.

Public Benefits / Government Services (306 completed / 46 in process)
Two groom wedding cake toppers; one on one knee proposing to the second

© Anthony Rosenberg (iStockPhoto)

This case category deals with discrimination in the provision of public benefits and other types of government services, and it brings together several different types of cases. Some are "Olmstead" cases — which implement the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 521 (1999), that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities, including mental disabilities. (These cases form a Clearinghouse "special collection" — they can all be accessed by clicking here.) Other cases deal with marriage or other LGBT discrimination; these too are a special collection, accessible here. Other topics are covered as well.

Speech and Religious Freedom (162 completed / 1 in process)
This currently small case category includes a number of interesting settlements and other injunctions dealing with the First Amendment, including both speech and religion — protest rights, cases about contraceptive insurance mandates, etc.

Mental Health (Facility) (52 completed / 4 in process)
Intellectual Disability (Facility) (98 completed / 4 in process)
Historical photo: Large state institution

The Clearinghouse collection includes conditions and habilitation litigation, and is particularly strong with respect to cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The cases that make up the modern major deinstitutionalization litigation campaign, implementing the Supreme Court's decision in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 521 (1999), that the Americans with Disabilities Act forbids unnecessary institutionalization of people with disabilities, including mental disabilities, are NOT in this category; they are in the "Public Benefits & Services" category, instead.

Indigent Defense (38 completed / 4 in process)
This category collects dozens of systematic challenges to indigent defense systems, whether they were brought as class actions or not.

Nursing Home Conditions (20 completed / 3 in process)
Woman's hand holding cane.

Most nursing home litigation seeks damages rather than injunctive relief, and is therefore outside the scope of our current collection. We do have a number of civil injunctive cases and criminal settlements, in which the United States brought charges under the False Claims Act against corporations that operated nursing homes, and settled for a set of policy and operational changes specified in the court documents included here. If you know of any additional nursing home cases, we would appreciate information about them.

Policing (193 completed / 30 in process)
The policing collection is not comprehensive. But it contains a great deal of information not readily available elsewhere, about injunctive cases involving alleged racial profiling as well as non-profiling cases about use of force and other issues.

Criminal Justice (Other) (150 completed / 31 in process)
Historical electric chair

There are quite a few criminal justice case types in the Clearinghouse: Prison Conditions, Jail Conditions, Juvenile Institution Conditions, Policing, and Indigent Defense. This catch-all category is for other types. It includes death-penalty cases (and is a particularly good source, though not a comprehensive one, for cases challenging lethal injection protocols), parole and probation class actions, bail class actions, and the like.

Child Welfare (63 completed / 1 in process)
These are cases concerning the operation of state child welfare systems—foster care, abuse and neglect investigations, etc. As with most categories, we have decided in this category to collect only injunctive cases (no cases in which the plaintiff sought damages without policy or operational change). And at least currently, we are including only cases in which the plaintiff was at least somewhat successful, either winning in court or settling with a major reform decree. For more information on some of these cases see Childrens' Rights Inc.

Disability Rights-Pub. Accom. (154 completed / 6 in process)
Blind pedestrian with cane walks on accessible sidewalk

© Ron Bailey

The Clearinghouse has the beginnings of a collection of disability rights cases; the core of the cases currently available were negotiated settlements involving challenges brought by organizations for blind people based on retailers' and banks' failures to accommodate visual impairments at points of sale or ATMs. See this site for more details.

Education (134 completed / 20 in process)
This small category deals with adequacy and equity education suits, and also class action litigation brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. School desegregation cases are their own, separate, category. We hope to expand the collection in the future. For more information on the adequacy and equity lawsuits, see the National Education Access Network.

School Desegregation (64 completed / 163 in process)
Black and white high school girls together in an Anacostia classroom in the 1950s

Warren K. Leffler (Library of Congress)

School desegregation litigation has been the model of civil rights litigation since 1954 and the first decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Collecting the many hundreds of school desegregation cases and their thousands of opinions poses significant challenges, which we hope to take on over the next several years. Currently we have only the very beginnings of a collection, including a substantial number of otherwise-inaccessible documents from Brown itself, and a document that is extraordinarily useful for historical research—the United States' voluminous description of every school desegregation case from 1955 to 1966, in the states then comprising the 5th Circuit (Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas). This appendix was filed, in four volumes, in U.S. v. Jefferson County. Until our collection grows, we refer users to see Brown University's School Desegregation site.

Public Accomm./Contracting (29 completed / 6 in process)
This category covers lawsuits brought based on discrimination in the operators of public accommodations such as stores, restaurants, etc. Disability discrimination in these areas is covered in the separate category Disability Rights. Our collection in this category is just getting started.

Election/Voting Rights (58 completed / 13 in process)
'Vote' banner strung across blue sky

W.H. Chow (Shutterstock)

There are too many election and voting rights cases for the Clearinghouse to keep up with all of them (and other sites focus entire on them). But we do collect and post some--particularly dealing with voting purges and voter id laws.

Public Housing (16 completed / 15 in process)
The Clearinghouse has just the beginnings of a collection on public housing desegregation. Additional information about this case category, including in-depth analysis of a number of individual cases, is available in a 2000 report to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, available here.

National Security (143 completed / 29 in process)
Flying American flag against blue sky

Michael Dorausch

The Clearinghouse does not collect criminal or habeas cases, except in unusual circumstances. So you'll need a different source for cases involving individual terrorism suspects. We do, however, collect civil cases involving national security issues -- surveillance, information sharing, border security, no-fly lists, and the like.