The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse collects and presents documents and information from large-scale civil rights cases across the United States.
Civil rights litigation has been tremendously important in this country, especially since the 1950s. The injunctions entered in civil rights cases have transformed a huge number of governmental institutions--schools, prisons, mental health facilities, housing authorities, police departments, child welfare agencies, etc. Injunctive cases have closed some institutions and opened others, dominated budget politics, become models for statutory interventions, and generally regulated practices. Thousands of such cases have been filed over the past fifty years and new cases are filed all the time; hundreds, old and new, are ongoing and remain influential.
But information about the cases has always been exceedingly hard to come by. Only a small number of the cases have ever been the subject of published judicial opinions. For the others, little or no information is accessible either to scholars or the public. Even obtaining copies of injunctive orders that remain in effect can be a major challenge; getting hold of less central documents or of documentation in cases since dismissed can be nearly impossible for non-experts or the unfunded. This state of affairs is problematic as a matter of public policy because informational scarcity makes good policymaking and advocacy more difficult, as officials, lawyers, and activists are forced to spend much of their time finding out by word of mouth who else has encountered issues similar to the ones they confront. And, similarly, ordinary citizens are unable to uncover the legal regime in which the governmental institutions that affect them are situated. And, the problem interferes with good scholarship, when scholars are forced to study only unusual cases because the ordinary ones are so elusive.
In a large and growing number of case categories, the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse provides the information needed to understand particular cases and the category as a whole. The site focuses on injunctive litigation—that is, on cases seeking policy or operational change—and on class actions.
We hope you enjoy using the collection; start at the search page.