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
LGBT Rights

Date Filed

April 14, 1980

In 1977, Marie Von Hoffburg, a female service member of the United States Army, was discharged due to her alleged sexual orientation. The Southern Poverty Law Center appealed the decision on her behalf alongside the American Civil Liberties Union.

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.

Mass Incarceration
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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

February 04, 1975

Although this constitutional challenge to horrific conditions at a juvenile center was filed by other lawyers in 1975, the Center and the Mississippi Center for Justice took over in 2003 to enforce a judgment that had been ignored for more than 25 years.

Mass Incarceration
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.

Date Filed

July 17, 1973

The Relf sisters challenged the constitutionality of government regulations that allowed federal funds to be used to sterilize minors and mentally-challenged women who were not competent to consent to the procedure.

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.

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