Linda Smith, a U.S. citizen, and “John Doe,” an undocumented immigrant, had been a couple for more than nine years. When they decided to marry, they could not obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery County Probate Office in Alabama because the office denied licenses to couples unable to prove both partners have legal immigration status. The policy was not required by any federal or state law. The SPLC filed a lawsuit challenging the policy.
The state of Florida denied in-state college tuition rates to U.S. citizens living in the state but unable to prove the lawful immigration status of their parents – an unconstitutional policy that more than tripled the cost of tuition. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit to end the practice.
South Carolina passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in 2011. The law required police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops when they have “reasonable suspicion” that a person is an undocumented immigrant. It also criminalized everyday interactions with undocumented immigrants. The SPLC joined a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit challenging the law as unconstitutional. A settlement reached in 2014 blocked major provisions of the law.
In the early morning hours of June 26, 2011, a black man was attacked in the parking lot of a Jackson, Miss., motel and then fatally run over by a truck. The Southern Poverty Law Center joined Mississippi attorney Winston J. Thompson III, in filing a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the man’s family. The civil lawsuit accused seven white teenagers of deliberately setting out to harass a black person.
Students in the Anoka-Hennepin School District have been subjected to harassment based on their actual or perceived sexual orientation, at least in part the result of a gag policy that prevents teachers from discussing issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) people.
Alabama passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in June 2011. The law threatened to chill children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. The SPLC led a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in an agreement that effectively gutted the law.
Students at Jackson Public School District’s Capital City Alternative School have regularly been disciplined for minor infractions, such as not wearing a belt or for wearing mismatched shoelaces, by being shackled for hours at a time to a fixed object. The lawsuit was filed after Jackson Public Schools refused to respond to a demand letter requesting that the school district end these practices.
Georgia in 2011 enacted a law authorizing police to demand "papers" demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, criminalizes Georgians who interact with undocumented individuals, and makes it unjustifiably difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services. The SPLC joined a group of organizations in filing a class action lawsuit challenging the law on constitutional grounds.
Children held at the Henley-Young Juvenile Justice Center in Jackson, Miss., were denied mental health services and subjected to verbal abuse and threats of physical harm by staff members. The Southern Poverty Law Center and Disability Rights Mississippi filed a class action lawsuit in June 2011 after numerous attempts to resolve the issues with county officials failed. A settlement agreement to protect youth at the facility was approved in March 2012.
The public school system of Mobile County, Ala., violated the constitutional rights of students by suspending them for months at a time over minor misbehavior without giving parents and guardians an opportunity to defend them. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of six students suspended for apparent minor misbehavior such as un-tucked shirts, tardiness or failing to carry a school ID.