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

(107 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 girl sitting looking thoughful.


Criminal Justice (Other)

(378 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.

Historical electric chair


Disability Rights

(875 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

(373 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.

A boy in a blue hoodie attentively listens to his teacher in a classroom with other boys


Election/Voting Rights

(616 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.

Polling station sign

© Jethro Loader (iStockPhoto)


Environmental Justice

(32 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.

Man carries a placard supporting 'Jobs, Justice, Clean Energy' demonstrating for environmental awareness during the 2014 People's Climate March.

iStock.com/andyparker72


Equal Employment

(3296 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.

Male Help Wanted ad

Syracuse Journal


Fair Housing/Lending/Insurance

(294 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.

Historical B&W photo: a white building with a "realtors" sign has three anti-discrimination protestors in front, with a police man standing

"Fair housing protest, 1964," Seattle Municipal Archives


Immigration and/or the Border

(847 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.

CBP officer inspects document as a woman with her dog in a car waits.

Centers for Disease Control, 2017


Indigent Defense

(84 cases in collection)

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

First page of Gideon v. Wainwright cert. petition

National Archives (1962)


Intellectual Disability (Facility)

(116 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.

naked man crouching

Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace (1972)


Jail Conditions

(867 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.

The entrance to the Brooklyn Detention Complex on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

iStock.com/John Penney


Juvenile Institution

(212 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.

African American boy sits in detention center

© Richard Ross (2012)


Labor Rights

(88 cases in collection)

Labor issues include: trafficking and other forced labor cases, organizing cases, minimum wage type cases, and the like. This is NOT a comprehensive source for class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Striking workers wearing red shirts and carrying signs that read "$15 for families/$15 para familias"

Fibonacci Blue


Mental Health (Facility)

(88 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.

naked man crouching

Willowbrook: The Last Great Disgrace (1972)


National Security

(254 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).

An aerial view of the Pentagon building in Washington D.C., USA.


Nursing Home Conditions

(31 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.

Gathering of wheelchairs, seen from behind


Policing

(422 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.

A NYPD counterterrorism officer and other police stand in a NYC street with a police dog.


Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority

(93 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.

The Presidential Seal on the side of a close-up helicoptor door

iStock.com/CrackerClips


Prison Conditions

(1143 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

(93 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.

Supermarket interior


Public Benefits/Government Services

(592 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).

Social Security cards

© Nick M. Do


Public Housing

(45 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.

Apartment building


Reproductive Issues

(249 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

(252 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: Linda Brown Smith, Ethel Louise Belton Brown, Harry Briggs, Jr., and Spottswood Bolling, Jr. during press conference

New York World-Telegram and the Sun Newspaper (1964)


Speech and Religious Freedom

(343 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.

Pro life protest in front of Supreme Court building