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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.
M.C. was born with an intersex condition – a difference in reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t fit the typical definition of male or female. When M.C. was just 16 months old and in the care of the South Carolina Department of Social Services, doctors and department officials decided the child should undergo sex assignment surgery to make M.C. a girl. There was no medical reason to perform this surgery, which robbed M.C. of the opportunity to decide what should happen to his body. The SPLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of M.C.’s adoptive parents.
An Alabama law gave tax breaks to families transferring their children to successful schools, discriminating against impoverished students in the state’s Black Belt region who were trapped in failing schools. The SPLC asked a federal court to permanently block the Alabama Accountability Act, saying the law violated the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause because it impermissibly created two classes of students assigned to failing schools – those who can escape them because of their parents’ income or where they live and those who cannot.
Harriet Cleveland lost her job at a daycare during the height of the recession. Unable to find steady work, Harriet tried to make ends meet by babysitting the children of friends and family and renting out rooms in her home. After doing everything she could, including pawning her car, Harriet ended up facing foreclosure and declared bankruptcy. During this time she had been unable to pay years old traffic tickets. In August, while babysitting her infant grandson, the Montgomery police came and arrested Harriet at her home. The Montgomery Municipal Court ordered her to serve 31 days in jail.
Aldermen in the small town of Shannon, Miss., unjustly denied a business license to a lesbian who wanted to reopen a bar catering to the LGBT community. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit against the town and its leaders for violating the bar owner’s equal protection and free-speech rights under the First and 14th Amendments.
After an Alabama man discovered that state laws refusing to recognize his lawful same-sex marriage from another state would prevent him from collecting the proceeds of a wrongful death lawsuit filed on behalf of his deceased husband, the SPLC filed a federal lawsuit to overturn the laws. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision legalizing same-sex marriage, a federal judge ruled that he could collect the proceeds as the surviving spouse.
Destin Holmes was subjected to pervasive anti-LGBT bullying and harassment by fellow students, faculty and even administrators within the schools of Mississippi’s Moss Point School District. The harassment became so severe Destin was eventually driven out of school. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit on her behalf to end the bullying and harassment in the district.
Two North Carolina school districts discriminated against immigrant children by denying, delaying or discouraging their enrollment, incidents that appeared to be symptomatic of a larger problem in school districts across the state. The SPLC filed a federal civil rights complaint on behalf of two children who encountered discrimination by school officials.
The SPLC filed a federal class action lawsuit against Tennessee for Medicaid practices that deprived thousands of people of health care coverage despite eligibility. These policies resulted in some residents – including those with serious medical conditions – going needlessly without health care.
After a Florida pre-kindergarten program refused to assist a 3-year-old girl with type 1 diabetes by monitoring her glucose levels, the SPLC filed a lawsuit on behalf of the child. Reflecting a statewide problem faced by many children with diabetes, the lawsuit describes how the program violated the Americans with Disabilities Act by refusing to accommodate the student’s needs. A settlement agreement was reached to ensure the pre-kindergarten program will take steps to ensure it does not discriminate against children with diabetes.