Case Docket

Summaries of our current and historical civil rights cases.

We have a rich history of litigating important civil rights cases on behalf of the most vulnerable in society. Our cases have smashed remnants of Jim Crow segregation; destroyed some of the nation’s most notorious white supremacist groups; and upheld the rights of minorities, children, women, the disabled and others who faced discrimination and exploitation. Many of our cases have changed institutional practices, stopped government or corporate abuses, and set precedents that helped thousands.

Currently, our litigation is focused on five major areas: children’s rights, economic justice, immigrant justice, LGBT rights, and mass incarceration.

Here are summaries, in a searchable format, of our current cases in addition to many over the previous four decades.

Showing 154 Results
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

March 29, 2004

Linda Barrera Cano, 11, was taken from her mother, Felipa Barrera, and placed in foster care after her immigrant mother was ordered to learn English in six months or risk losing her daughter.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

December 14, 2003

Originally filed in 1975, this class action lawsuit is aimed at improving the education provided to thousands of Mississippi schoolchildren with educational disabilities.

Hate & Extremism

Date Filed

June 25, 2003

After a Texas rancher invited the vigilante border patrol group Ranch Rescue to guard his property in 2003, two Salvadorans crossing the U.S. border were terrorized and assaulted by members of the group. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Salvadorans, obtaining more than $1 million in a settlement and judgments, including the title to Ranch Rescue’s Arizona headquarters.

Mass Incarceration

Date Filed

May 12, 2003

Due to a lack of access to doctors and long delays in diagnosis and treatment, seriously ill inmates at one of Alabama's maximum-security prisons sued to receive adequate healthcare.

Mass Incarceration

Date Filed

April 08, 2003

Diabetic inmates in Alabama face vision loss, convulsions, and amputations due to substandard care. Others are at risk of heart attacks, nerve damage, strokes, kidney failure, and death. The case has reached a precedent-setting settlement and is currently in a monitoring phase.

Mass Incarceration

Date Filed

August 12, 2002

The ventilation system on Alabama's death row was broken, resulting in stifling, stagnant, medically dangerous heat in the prisoners' 55-square foot cells. The Center sued to allow inmates to purchase fans at their own expense. An anonymous donor provided free fans to all death row inmates.

Mass Incarceration
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 20, 2002

When Alabama correctional guards handcuffed Larry Hope to a metal hitching post and left him shirtless, virtually without water, and without bathroom breaks in the Alabama sun for seven hours, they should have known that their actions were unlawful, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2002.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 18, 2002

Each year, thousands of immigrant children are detained and deported. Alone, unable to speak English, and without lawyers, they wait in detention centers to learn their fate. The Center filed a groundbreaking lawsuit to establish their right to legal representation, but the case was dismissed. The district court ruled that children do not have a legal right to an attorney during removal proceedings.

Date Filed

October 29, 2001

Under cover of night and without the knowledge of his fellow justices, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court installed a 2 1/2-ton Ten Commandments monument in the rotunda of the state judicial building. The Center sued, and the monument was removed from public display; Chief Justice was subsequently removed from office due to ethics violations.

Hate & Extremism

Date Filed

January 17, 2000

The Imperial Wizard of one of the most aggressive Klan groups in the country detained and terrorized two journalists covering a story about a planned Klan rally. The Center sued, winning a $120,000 judgment, and investigating criminal charges that sent the Klan leader to prison.

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