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Landmark Case

Date Filed

October 19, 1979

Cotton mill workers contracted brown lung, or byssinosis, by inhaling tiny dust particles on a daily basis as they went about their work. The Center sued, achieving a breakthrough financial settlement and regulations to protect the health and safety of cotton mill workers.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

January 01, 1979

The United States Supreme Court struck down Alabama's "kill 'em or let 'em go" death penalty statute in a landmark decision that reversed the Alabama State Supreme Court and vacated the death sentences of plaintiff Gilbert Beck and 10 other men on death row.

Landmark Case

Date Filed

September 21, 1976

In this landmark sex discrimination case, two Alabama women applied for jobs traditionally reserved for men. One sought to become a state trooper, the other a correctional officer; both were rejected. The Supreme Court's landmark decision in favor of the women opened doors nationwide for women to be hired in law enforcement careers.

Criminal Justice Reform
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 26, 1974

Conditions in Alabama's prisons were an inhumane nightmare - violent, overcrowded and unsanitary. In a 1976 landmark ruling, a federal judge declared the prisons "wholly unfit for human habitation" and ordered detailed reforms.

Landmark Case

Date Filed

January 03, 1972

As late as 1972, there was not a single African American Alabama state trooper in a state that is one-quarter black. African Americans were refused jobs as troopers, but were easily hired as janitors. The SPLC filed suit, challenging the state's blatant racial discrimination.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

September 08, 1971

In the early 1970s, several private segregated academies were allowed to use public recreational facilities in Montgomery, Ala., for football and baseball games – a practice that meant taxpayers were subsidizing these all-white schools as the public school system was being integrated. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit that resulted in the U.S. Supreme Court finding the city’s practice unconstitutional.

Immigrant Justice

After learning that police in Fairfield, Alabama, may have been using a city ordinance to harass low-wage Latino day laborers, the SPLC and the National Day Laborer Organizing Network asked the police chief for public records to determine if Latinos were being targeted. When the police chief refused to respond, the SPLC and the day laborer group filed a lawsuit to compel him to release the records. 

Children's Rights

Alabama is the only state in the Southeast that lacks statutory due process protections for students facing long-term suspension or expulsion. Without a state law, each of the 138 school districts in Alabama is left to develop its own protections and procedures. This has resulted in haphazard,...

Landmark Case

Date Filed

June 11, 1969

When Montgomery, Alabama, closed its public parks and pools rather than integrate them, the local YMCA took over the city's recreational needs. As the YMCA continued to exclude blacks, Center co-founder Morris Dees sued and won a landmark court order that forced the YMCA to integrate its programs.

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