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 147 Results
Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 14, 1988

Concerned about inappropriate services and mental health treatment provided to children placed in Alabama foster care, the Center joined with mental health lawyers and sued in 1988, forcing drastic changes in the ways these cases are handled.

Date Filed

May 10, 1988

In 1988, only 11 of Alabama's 223 trial judges were black. The Center sued to end a system denying racial minorities the chance to elect judicial candidates of their choice. The federal district court disagreed, upholding a voting system found unfair in other states.

Mass Incarceration

Date Filed

January 18, 1988

On Christmas Day 1987, Loyal Garner, a black man who had never been in trouble with the law, was beaten to death in an East Texas jail after being arrested on a traffic charge. After a state court jury acquitted the three implicated in the killing, the SPLC won financial security for Garner’s widow and six children in a federal civil rights action. Evidence uncovered by SPLC investigators led to the subsequent criminal conviction of the three lawmen.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

March 23, 1987

"Black and white together" is one of verses of the famous civil rights hymn, "We Shall Overcome." But when blacks and whites marched together in all-white Forsyth County, Georgia, in 1987, they were greeted with Klansmen throwing rocks and shouting racial slurs.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

June 14, 1984

On March 20, 1981, members of the United Klans of America abducted a young African-American man at random, put a noose around his neck, beat him, cut his throat and hung his body from a tree. The Center sued the Klansmen and won an historic $7 million judgment.

Hate & Extremism

Date Filed

June 04, 1984

In the mid-1980s, a North Carolina Klan group was one of the most militant and violent, engaging in paramilitary-style training, using U.S. military personnel to prepare recruits for combat. After a series of terrorizing incidents, the Center sued the Klan and won court orders shutting down their illegal training camps.

Children's Rights
Landmark Case

Date Filed

February 16, 1984

For years, unmined coal in Kentucky was virtually exempt from taxation, leaving Kentucky's public schools and other services grossly underfunded. Fair tax advocates worked with the Center to file suit challenging Kentucky's unfair tax system, resulting in improved regulations.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

February 09, 1982

The Southern Poverty Law Center sought a permanent injunction in 1982 to stop operators of the church-run Bethesda Home for Girls from physically and emotionally abusing the "wayward" girls sent to them for care and instruction.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

April 15, 1981

Armed men in Klan robes spewed hate-filled threats, burned crosses and destroyed shrimp boats. White fishermen, fearful of competition from Vietnamese immigrants, invited the Klan to Galveston Bay, Texas. The Center sued and brought an end to their illegal activities, including paramilitary training camps.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 02, 1980

In 1979, over 100 Klan members attacked Decatur, Alabama marchers protesting the conviction of Tommy Lee Hines, a retarded black man accused of rape. After a ten-year fight, the Center secured criminal convictions and financial compensation for the victims.

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