Special Collections

Use our "special collections" to find pre-tagged groupings of cases we think might be of particular interest. Or the case type page offers broader categorizations. You can also create your own groupings using issue and other search terms, from the home/search page.


Attica Uprising Litigation

(8 cases in collection)

In September of 1971, incarcerated people in New York's Attica Correctional Facility took control of the prison and took several staff members hostage. The uprising ended when state police violently stormed the prison, killing thirty nine incarcerated people and staff members. Attica was one of the most significant events in the American prisoners' rights movement and drew public attention to poor conditions in prisons across the country. The uprising, retaking, and their aftermaths spawned numerous lawsuits, many of which are included in this special collection.

Black and white photo: Attica prisoners participating in the uprising gather around a table, apparently to negotiate with state representatives. The participants are numbered and named in the caption.

NYS Archives


California Jail Population Caps

(40 cases in collection)

This collection consists of jail conditions cases in California that all at some point included an order that functioned as a population cap. For more about how these cases fit into the legal and political ecosystem around changes enabled by prison population reduction, see Margo Schlanger, Plata v. Brown and Realignment: Jails, Prisons, Courts, and Politics, 48 Harv. C.R.C.L. L. Rev. 165 (2013).

Man in Psychiatric Stabilization Unit, naked, sleeping on floor, using a roll of toilet paper between his head and the floor.


California's Prisoners' Rights Bar article

(34 cases in collection)

These cases are described in an article about how California's very large bar with a critical mass of expert prisoners' rights lawyers has enabled prisoners' rights litigation in California to be uniquely influential: Margo Schlanger, The Just-Barely-Sustainable California Prisoners' Rights Ecosystem, 664 Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science 62 (2015).

Mental health unit at San Diego Central Jail


Civil Rights Division Archival Collection

(245 cases in collection)

This collection consists of cases litigated by the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division from the 1960s through the 1990s, including cases brought under the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act (CRIPA). This special collection was made possible with the generous assistance of a number of lawyers who previously worked for the Division, the Civil Rights Division Association (a non-profit group of Division alumni and current staff), and the Division's Special Litigation Section.

John Doar pleading for calm in Jackson after the Evers assassination


Contraception Insurance Mandate

(105 cases in collection)

This collection brings together lawsuits challenging the Affordable Care Act's requirement that birth control be part of health insurance for employees. These challenges come from over a hundred Catholic organizations and other religious groups, and many were impacted by the Supreme Court’s decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.

Hobby Lobby

by DangApricot


Court-ordered receiverships

(24 cases in collection)

Only rarely is receivership used in civil rights cases—although as this collection demonstrates, receivership is a less uncommon remedial device in cases dealing with public housing and cases in the District of Columbia. Still, receiverships are not unheard of in other areas; the collection includes, for example, high-profile receiverships in Plata v. Brown (California prison medical care), and in Allen v. City of Oakland (Oakland police department).


COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

(493 cases in collection)

These cases address the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic over a wide range of areas, such as COVID-19 protections (e.g. social distancing, vaccine requirements, releases) in jails, prisons, and immigration detention centers; distribution of funds from the CARES Act; voting rights; and restrictions imposed by lockdown orders.

Graphic of SARS-CoV-2


Criminal cases challenging FISA surveillance

(8 cases in collection)

Section 702 of FISA permits foreign intelligence surveillance targeting the communications of non-U.S. persons located abroad. This collection contains criminal cases in which the government notified the court that FISA surveillance was relevant to the case, and the defendant then challenged the lawfulness of that surveillance or the evidence obtained.


Deaf or Blind in Jail/Prison

(68 cases in collection)

This collection gathers cases addressing the needs of incarcerated people who are deaf/hard-of-hearing or blind/low vision. It accompanies a Clearinghouse white paper that uses these cases to compile suggested practices for jail/prison facilities.

Black and white photo of a prisoner signing to a videophone.

Photo: Annie Flanagan


DOJ Civil Rights Division Statements of Interest

(20 cases in collection)

In civil rights cases on issues of broad public concern, the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division sometimes files a "statement of interest." This is usually a document that takes no position on the facts of the case, but provides the court with a recommended framework to assess the plaintiffs' claim. These statements are important policy documents, establishing the DOJ position on highly contested topics.

Department of Justice seal


EEOC Study — in sample

(2342 cases in collection)

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency charged with enforcing laws against discrimination in the workplace, and a significant part of its work involves filing federal lawsuits. The EEOC Litigation Project involved a systematic study of the litigation activities of the EEOC and the agency's outcomes over a 10 year period of time.

EEOC seal


Featured Historical Cases

(15 cases in collection)

This collection gathers a number of civil rights cases of great historical significance for which the Clearinghouse has made a special effort to include a larger-than-typical portion of the documents, and to summarize with a bit more historical context. It includes, for example,

  • Early school desegregation cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, Milliken v. Bradley (Detroit), Liddell v. Board of Educ. of St. Louis
  • The earliest (and longest lasting) public housing discrimination case, Gautreaux v. Chicago Housing Authority/Gautreaux v. Hills
  • The first educational sexual harassment case, Alexander v. Yale
  • A 1970s housing discrimination lawsuit against the Trumps, United States v. Fred C. Trump, Donald Trump, and Trump Management, Inc.
  • Among the very first prisoners rights trials, Jordan v. Fitzharris
  • Early employment discrimination class actions, including U.S. v. IBEW, #38 (against a union), and EEOC, Hodgson, and U.S. v. AT&T (sex discrimination)
We don't have the complete record for these (except for Gautreaux), but we have made significant extra efforts.

Scan of original complaint filed in Brown v. Board of Education (Topeka)

Brown v. Board of Ed., Complaint (1951)


Fines/Fees/Bail Reform (Criminalization of Poverty)

(112 cases in collection)

This collection features lawsuits challenging the practice of jailing poor people who cannot afford to pay bail, fines, or fees. This wealth-based detention takes a variety of forms, and advocates argue that these practices effectively amount to jailing those too poor to pay for their freedom.

gavel on top of cash


Flint Water Cases

(18 cases in collection)

In April 2014, the city of Flint, Michigan, changed its water source, but failed to apply corrosion inhibitors to the water. As a result, lead from aging pipes leached into the water supply, leading to extremely elevated lead levels. A great deal of complex federal and state court civil litigation followed. This special collection includes the class actions and consolidated matters. (The Clearinghouse does not cover the many criminal cases filed against local and state officials in regard to the crisis.)

A dripping water faucet

Dschwen


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- All Matters

(134 cases in collection)

This Clearinghouse special collection brings together all the litigation we know about that deals with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (including the FISA Amendments Act). Many are newly declassified items from the docket of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC); others predate those recent disclosures.

Top Secret Cover Page


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—Foreign Targeting (702, 703, 704)

(36 cases in collection)

Section 702 of FISA permits foreign intelligence surveillance targeting the communications of non-U.S. persons located abroad without needing to establish probable cause. Communications of U.S. citizens and residents are frequently collected "incidentally" if those U.S. persons are communicating with a targeted foreigner. This Clearinghouse special collection brings together litigation addressing this part of FISA.

Top Secret Cover Page


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act—Internet Metadata

(30 cases in collection)

This category brings together litigation addressing the NSA collection of U.S. email metadata that began in 2001. In 2004, the Attorney General sought and obtained judicial ratification of the internet metadata program under Section 402 of FISA, commonly referred to as the Pen Register and Trap and Trace (PR/TT) provision or Section 214 of the USA PATRIOT Act. These records included the "to," "from," "cc," and "bcc" lines of an email and the email's time and date. The Obama administration discontinued the program in 2011.

Top Secret Cover Page


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act -- Telephony Metadata

(70 cases in collection)

The National Security Agency's (NSA) so-called "Bulk Telephony Metadata Program" proceeds under Section 501 of FISA, commonly referred to as Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT Act. Under the program, the NSA has apparently collected records from large telecommunication companies about virtually all domestic telephone calls. These records, termed "telephony metadata," include the phone numbers placed and received; the date, time and duration of calls; some location identifiers; and calling card numbers. The records, however, allegedly do not include the parties' names, addresses or financial information or the call's content. This special collection brings together all cases addressing this program, mostly in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, but some elsewhere.

Top Secret Cover Page


Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court

(95 cases in collection)

The FISA Court (FISC) was established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) to oversee government requests for foreign intelligence surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement agencies. Before the Edward Snowden disclosures in 2013, the opinions and pleadings from the FISC were nearly all classified, but many are now available in scattered locations. This Clearinghouse special collection brings these documents together in one place.

Top Secret Cover Page


Healthy Elections COVID litigation tracker

(172 cases in collection)

For the 2020 election, the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project compiled a database tracking election law cases arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic—over 400 cases in more than 44 states. For more information on the project, see https://healthyelections.org.

Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Litigation Tracker


Immigrant Detention Labor Issues

(8 cases in collection)

This special collection focuses on challenges to labor practices at immigrant detention centers across the country. Persons currently or formerly held in civil immigration detention centers sued either GEO Group or Core Civic, two private companies that operate prisons and detention centers.

Common Area, Stewart Detention Center, Georgia


IWPR/Wage Project Consent Decree Study

(503 cases in collection)

The Institute for Women's Policy Research (IWPR), in collaboration with The WAGE Project, Inc., examined consent decree remedies for sex and race discrimination in the workplace. The research focused on the design and impact of organizational remedies on changing workplace conditions, looking at approximately 500 consent decrees that went into effect between 2000 and 2008. Researchers also made in-depth studies of a small number of highly innovative consent decrees in order to better describe best practice for using consent decrees to improve working conditions through the eradication of discrimination based on race and sex from the workplace.

Institute for Women's Policy Research logo


Litigation Against Federal Police (2020)

(11 cases in collection)

In the spring and summer of 2020, the Trump administration mobilized many federal law enforcement agents against protesters in Washington, D.C., Portland, Chicago and other cities. This special collection contains lawsuits against Federal Protective Service, ICE, CBP, Park Police, and other officers accused of acting outside their statutory authority, retaliating against people exercising free speech rights, arresting individuals without probable cause, and using excessive force.

"Fed Goons Out Of PDX" projected onto the front of the Portland Justice Center.

@Clypian


Martin Sostre cases

(5 cases in collection)

This collection covers a series of important prison litigation cases filed in New York federal courts by American prisoners' rights movement activist Martin Sostre.

Pittore44 / CC BY-SA


Multi-LexSum (in sample)

(4539 cases in collection)

In joint work with the Allen Institute for AI, the Clearinghouse has contributed metadata and summaries for about 4500 federal cases to a new machine learning dataset, in an effort to train and refine Natural Language Processing (NLP) models that can generate automated summaries. You can read about the project in its first paper: Shen, Lo, Yu, Dahlberg, Schlanger & Downey, Multi-LexSum: Real-world Summaries of Civil Rights Lawsuits at Multiple Granularities, currently posted here. This special collection tags the in-sample cases.

Schematic for summary writing, showing court documents leading to summary and coding


Non-Litigation Policies

(0 cases in collection)

This special collection is actually hosted outside the Clearinghouse. It brings together policy documents on selected topics, focused on prison and jail policies, mostly gathered via Freedom of Information Act requests. To access the collection, click here.

Freedom of Information Act


Occupy

(17 cases in collection)

Occupy Wall Street was a protest movement that began on September 17, 2011, in Zuccotti Park, in New York City's Wall Street financial district. Protests spread across the U.S. in the subsequent days and months. In a number of jurisdictions, litigation resulted from police interaction with Occupy protesters. Some of it is collected here.

Two Occupy Wall Stret protestors in masks, in Times Square

(2011)


Olmstead Cases

(161 cases in collection)

In its opinion in Olmstead v. L.C., 527 U.S. 581 (1999), the U.S. Supreme Court held that persons unnecessarily confined to institutions for care relating to mental or intellectual disabilities have the right to state-funded community-based treatment options. This decision has led to an entire category of litigation ("Olmstead litigation"); the Clearinghouse has collected these cases here.

Lois Curtis presents President Obama with a picture.

Official White House Photo by Pete Souza


Planned Parenthood Litigation

(24 cases in collection)

A number of states have taken steps to eliminate Planned Parenthood's eligibility for federal Medicaid funding for non-abortion reproductive health care. Even though taxpayer dollars cannot pay for abortions, the states argue that Planned Parenthood's overall programs—which include both abortion and non-abortion services—should make it ineligible for Medicaid for any service it provides. This collection tracks the litigation that has resulted in many states.

Pro- and anti-Planned Parenthood Protestors


Police Violence Protests

(44 cases in collection)

Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, on May 25, 2020. Nationwide protests followed, often under the banner "Black Lives Matter." This special collection brings together relevant litigation regarding city and law enforcement responses to the protests, focusing on group cases and class actions. Lawsuits covered issues including curfews, police use of chemical agents, arrests and assaults of reporters, denials of permits, excessive force and unlawful arrests, racial discrimination against protesters and media, and dispersal of protests.

Protestor Demands projected onto federal building

@Clypian


Post-PLRA enforceable consent decrees

(70 cases in collection)

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A)(a), enacted in 1996, federal courts may enter an enforceable decree in prison or jail conditions cases only if the remedy is "narrowly drawn" and "extends no further than necessary." This special collection brings together cases in which the remedies have been ratified under this standard.

Sunlit prison fences with security wire, and turnstile of Mira Loma Detention Center in Lancaster California.


Post-PLRA Jail and Prison Private Settlement Agreements

(41 cases in collection)

Under the Prison Litigation Reform Act, 18 U.S.C. § 3626(a)(1)(A)(a), enacted in 1996, federal courts may enter an enforceable decree in prison or jail conditions cases only if the remedy is "narrowly drawn" and "extends no further than necessary." To avoid application of these constraints, parties can instead settle cases using "private settlement agreements," which may be enforced as contracts. This special collection brings together injunctive (but not damages) cases in which settlements fit this definition.


Prison Legal News

(57 cases in collection)

Prison Legal News is an independent monthly magazine from the Human Rights Defense Center that covers prisoners' rights, court rulings, and news concerning criminal justice issues. It has brought many lawsuits challenging official policies and practices that allegedly interfere with PLN's free speech rights, including the ability to communicate with prisoners, not only for PLN's speech, but for all publishers and others who want to communicate with people who are incarcerated.

Prison Legal News logo


Private Employment Class Actions

(200 cases in collection)

The special collection consists of discrimination class action lawsuits brought by private plaintiffs against employers.

Walmart logo


Same-Sex Marriage

(168 cases in collection)

This collection brings together cases that sought to legalize same-sex marriage or to invalidate refusals to recognize state-law same-sex marriages. It includes the cases that the U.S. Supreme Court decided in June 2013 and June 2015: Obergefell v. Kasich (OH), Love v. Beshear (KY), Tanco v. Haslam (TN), DeBoer v. Snyder (MI), Perry v. Schwarzenegger (CA) and Windsor v. United States.

Two women models (cake toppers), and a wedding cake

© Ivonne Wierink-vanWetten (iStockPhoto)


Selma and Early Civil Rights Enforcement

(15 cases in collection)

In the years leading up to the Voting Rights Act, whose passage was a direct response to the famous Selma-to-Montgomery marches in March 1965, civil rights activists tirelessly worked to end voter discrimination. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division sought to curb racial discrimination in Alabama that kept Black individuals from voting. The cases in this collection include the DOJ complaints about voter discrimination and harassment in Alabama, civil rights activists' complaints against various coercive practices, the injunction allowing protesters to assemble in March 1965, and the DOJ's prosecution of the Klansmen who killed Viola Liuzzo.

4 historic photos re. Selma 1965 march


Signal International Guest Worker Cases

(12 cases in collection)

The special collection features one of the largest human trafficking cases in U.S. history. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Alabama-based marine services company Signal International and its recruiters promised permanent residency and good employment to over 500 Indian men. Instead, the men's H2-B visas were only temporary, and they were forced into racially-segregated labor camps that were overcrowded and unsanitary. The resulting lawsuits, starting with David v. Signal International, are collected here. The litigation resulted in a $14.1 million jury verdict in David, a $5 million settlement in the EEOC case for 476 guestworkers, and an apology from Signal's CEO.

A scene from the "man camp" where workers were crowded into trailers.

Southern Poverty Law Center


Solitary confinement

(92 cases in collection)

This group of cases addresses solitary and/or supermax confinement in jails, prisons, and other incarcerative institutions.

Map of SHU Cells Across N.Y. State, 2012

DOCCS Daily Population Capacity Report, 06/11/12 (NYCLU)


Stop-and-Frisk (NY)

(8 cases in collection)

The Stop-Question-and-Frisk program ("stop-and-frisk") in New York City, was a New York Police Department program in which police officers stopped and questioned hundreds of thousands of pedestrians, frisking them for weapons and other contraband. (This kind of stop is referred to as a "Terry stop" after Terry v. Ohio.) The program, and related search programs, were the subject of sustained litigation; the relevant cases are collected here.

Race breakdown in 2011 Stop-and-Frisk

NYCLU


Strip Search Cases

(239 cases in collection)

Strip search cases—involving police on the streets, lock-ups, jails, prisons, and juvenile institutions—are spread across different Clearinghouse case categories. This special collection pulls these cases out for ease of use and search. For more information, see Margo Schlanger, Jail Strip-Search Cases: Patterns and Participants, 71 Law & Contemp. Problems 65 (2008).

Prisoner in jump suit, hands cuffed behind his back

06-28-06 © Trista Weibel


Title IX, Sexual Violence Investigations/Resolutions

(22 cases in collection)

Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act of 1972 prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational programs and activities. The U.S. Department of Education has conducted many investigations and resolved many cases alleging that sexual violence on college campuses constitutes gender discrimination, unlawful under Title IX. This collection contains some of the cases of greatest interest. A more comprehensive list/set of materials on those cases is available at the Department of Education's FOIA page.

The Text of Title IX


Transgender Bathroom Access Cases

(10 cases in collection)

This collection includes cases relating to transgender persons' access to public, multi-occupancy restrooms that match their gender identities. The issue rose to national political significance following conservative state legislators in North Carolina passing a state law that restricted access to multi-occupancy public bathrooms and changing facilities based on the gender on a person's birth certificate. The law was passed on March 23, 2016, in an emergency session of the legislature called in response to a anti-discrimination law in Charlotte, North Carolina. That anti-discrimination law had expanded protections to cover LGBTQ+ individuals and had given transgender persons the right to use bathrooms matching their gender identities. For more, see Understanding HB2: North Carolina's newest law solidifies state's role in defining discrimination.

Progress LBGT+ flag


Trump Administration FOIA cases

(63 cases in collection)

This collection contains Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) litigation, as well as any documents made public from the litigation, pertaining to the Trump administration's immigration policies. These record requests were related to a variety of immigration policies, including new vetting policies, the ban on refugees from certain nations, and border wall projects. In all cases, the plaintiffs argued that the administration failed to release records requested under FOIA.

Freedom of Information Act


Trump Immigration Enforcement Order Challenges

(83 cases in collection)

In 2017, President Trump issued a series of executive orders relating to immigration and refugee policy and announced his plan to repeal an Obama Administration executive order expanding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. Legal challenges ensued immediately following each action. This collection consists of challenges to the immigration enforcement orders, including litigation related to sanctuary cities/states, DACA, deportations, and border wall construction.

Immigrantion protesters with American flags


Trump Travel Ban Challenges

(38 cases in collection)

This collection contains the principal cases litigating the Travel Ban executive orders installed by the Trump administration shortly after President Trump was inaugurated. Even after President Biden took office and rescinded these executive orders on January 20, 2021, many of these cases remain unresolved as plaintiffs seek remedies from DHS and the State Department for harms suffered as a result of the Travel Ban.

Statue of Liberty with her head in her hands