Case Types

The Clearinghouse's broadest categorization of cases is by "case type," described below. You can also use our "special collections" to find pre-tagged groupings of cases we think might be of particular interest. Or create your own groupings using issue and other search terms, from the home/search page.


Child Welfare

(79 cases in collection)

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 (rather than cases in which the plaintiff sought damages without policy or operational change).

Young boy in a too-big blue Yankees cap looks down, trees in background.


Criminal Justice (Other)

(321 cases in collection)

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 of criminal justice cases. 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, etc.

The Department of Justice sign on a wall of a building in Washington DC, USA.


Disability Rights/Public Accommodations

(504 cases in collection)

This category covers disability rights cases. This includes treatment in jails, prisons, and other institutions; child welfare in foster systems; denial of benefits, including Medicaid and Social Security; ADA violations; retailers' failures to accommodate visual impairments at points of sale or ATMs (see this site for more details); and testing accommodations for students.

Blind man using a long white cane and wearing a COVID mask walks in front of masked lion statue (NYC Library)

iStock.com/Massimo Giachetti


Education

(254 cases in collection)

This category deals with adequacy and equity education suits, and also class action litigation brought under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. School desegregation is its own separate category. For more information on state-based school funding litigation, education-finance reform, and related issues like equal educational opportunity, see the Center for Educational Equity’s SchoolFunding.Info.

Young children getting onto schoolbus


Election/Voting Rights

(323 cases in collection)

There are too many election and voting rights cases for the Clearinghouse to keep up with all of them (and other sites focus entirely on them), but we do collect some—particularly dealing with the intersection of criminal justice and voting issues.

A closeup of a "Vote by Mail" envelope for official balloting purposes.


Environmental Justice

(20 cases in collection)

Environmental justice cases seek the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people in the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies regardless of race, color, national origin, or income. The Clearinghouse uses this category for race discrimination/environmental cases—for example, the Flint Water cases. The category covers both lawsuits under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 (enforcing federal rights, particularly constitutional rights, against state and local officials) and administrative complaints filed with the EPA under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Note that most environmental justice work is not done via lawsuits, but instead through legislative and administrative advocacy, so this is not a large case category.

Closed fist with world map superimposed


Equal Employment

(3215 cases in collection)

This is a 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 set of the EEOC's class-action-like cases)—collected here, these cases were the subject of the EEOC Litigation Project. The Clearinghouse collection also includes class-type cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice beginning in the 1990s, and the largest collection freely available anywhere of private employment discrimination class actions.

Closeup shot of a red and white "Help Wanted" sign on a shop's door


Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance

(256 cases in collection)

These are largely lawsuits 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. These are in addition to the Public Housing cases.

A house under construction with a pickup truck in front

Infrogmation (Wikimedia Commons)


Immigration and/or the Border

(775 cases in collection)

The Clearinghouse has a very deep collection of immigration class actions, as well as injunctive immigration cases involving large numbers of plaintiffs that are not formally class actions. These lawsuits cover a wide range of topics: conditions of confinement in immigration detention, civil rights violations at workplace immigration enforcement raids, 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. Also included in this category are cases that deal with the U.S. border—screening, force, the Trump administration's travel ban, etc.

Sign: 'Caution,' with three fleeing migrants in silhouette


Indigent Defense

(79 cases in collection)

This category collects dozens of systematic challenges to indigent defense systems, whether they were brought as class actions or not.

Courtroom sketch showing an accused person and by attorneys in court.

Butch Krieger, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Intellectual Disability (Facility)

(114 cases in collection)

This collection, along with Mental Health (Facility), includes conditions and habilitation litigation, and in particular cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The cases that make up the modern major deinstitutionalization litigation campaign, known as the "Olmstead" cases, are NOT in this category; they are instead in the Public Benefits & Services category.

Historical photo: Large state institution


Jail Conditions

(811 cases in collection)

Along with Prison Conditions, 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, this collection contains cases that resulted in some type of reform decree, but there are also damages class actions—for example, over a hundred jail and prison strip search class actions.

Prisoner in jump suit, hands cuffed behind his back

06-28-06 © Trista Weibel


Juvenile Institution

(198 cases in collection)

These cases deal 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 issues unique to youthful incarcerated people, like special education.


Mental Health (Facility)

(78 cases in collection)

This collection, along with Intellectual Disability (Facility), includes conditions and habilitation litigation, and in particular cases brought by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. The cases that make up the modern major deinstitutionalization litigation campaign, known as the "Olmstead" cases, are NOT in this category; they are instead in the Public Benefits & Services category.

Historic b&w photo of an electric shock machine.

National Archives


National Security

(239 cases in collection)

The Clearinghouse collects civil cases involving national security issues—surveillance, information sharing, border security, no-fly lists, etc. We have tried to include every Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act case whose records are non-classified. We do not otherwise collect criminal or habeas cases, except in unusual circumstances (so this collection does not cover cases involving individual terrorism suspects).

The Seal of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation.


Nursing Home Conditions

(28 cases in collection)

We 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. However, most nursing home litigation seeks damages rather than injunctive relief, and is therefore outside the scope of our current collection.

Woman's hand holding cane.


Policing

(320 cases in collection)

The policing collection 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. We have made a particular effort to include cases relating to the “Occupy” movement and the Movement for Black Lives.

"Hands up! Don't shoot!" signs displayed at Ferguson protests

By Jamelle Bouie via Wikimedia Commons


Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority

(70 cases in collection)

This case category collects cases that address the authority—whether expressed by Executive Order or some other policy method—of the President or a governor. This includes challenges related to the Emoluments Clause and Freedom of Information Act lawsuits whose underlying purposes are to assess executive uses of authority.

President Donald Trump


Prison Conditions

(1060 cases in collection)

Along with Jail Conditions, this part of the collection is, we believe, the largest existing compilation of information about injunctive correctional litigation. The cases go from 1950s to the present. For the most part, this collection contains cases that resulted in some type of reform decree, but there are also damages class actions—for example, over a hundred jail and prison strip search class actions.

Prison fence with razor wire; blue sky; guard tower in the distance.


Public Accommodations/Contracting

(51 cases in collection)

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.

A streetside view of the Rialto Theater in Three Rivers, Texas, United States.

Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Public Benefits/Government Services

(481 cases in collection)

This case category deals with discrimination in the provision of public benefits and other types of government services. There are many types of cases included. Some are "Olmstead" cases (also a Clearinghouse special collection)—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. This is also the category in which we've placed cases that deal with marriage or other LGBTQ+ discrimination (another Clearinghouse special collection).

Packet of foodstamps


Public Housing

(37 cases in collection)

This category covers cases related to public housing, including desegregation, accessibility issues, and discrimination claims. Many of these cases are from the 1960s through the 1990s, but the collection extends to the present.

Fair housing mural on apartment building exterior

Equal Housing Opportunity Council of St. Louis


Reproductive Issues

(77 cases in collection)

These cases involve reproductive issues, such as challenges to laws regulating (or mandating provision of) contraception or abortion.

Birth control pills


School Desegregation

(264 cases in collection)

School desegregation litigation has been the model of civil rights litigation since 1954 and the first decision in Brown v. Board of Education. Assembling the collection is particularly challenging because so many of the cases predate the federal court PACER system. Our postings include a substantial number of otherwise-inaccessible documents. Some are from Brown itself; we also post 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. And we have dozens of cases, and hundreds of documents, from the personal files of former Civil Rights Division attorneys who litigated on behalf of the federal government from the 1960s to the 1980s.

Historical B&W photo of African American students walking through a crowd of white students, with police on standby


Speech and Religious Freedom

(209 cases in collection)

This 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.

Two Occupy Wall Stret protestors in masks, in Times Square

(2011)