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Children's Rights

Date Filed

August 19, 2013

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.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

July 08, 2011

Alabama passed an extreme anti-immigrant law in June 2011. The law threatened to chill children’s access to public schools by requiring school officials to verify the immigration status of children and their parents; authorized police to demand “papers” demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops; and criminalized Alabamians for everyday interactions with undocumented individuals. The SPLC led a coalition of civil rights groups in filing a federal class action lawsuit that resulted in an agreement that effectively gutted the law.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

May 14, 2008

Migrant farmworker Victor Marquez was traveling to his hometown in Querétero, Mexico, to pay for his new home, only to have his life savings seized by police who alleged it was drug money. During the May 5, 2008, traffic stop in Loxley, Ala., a police officer confiscated more than $19,000 from Marquez even though he earned a majority of the money by working the bean harvest in south Florida. Marquez was not charged. The Southern Poverty Law Center won the return of the money after the state refused to provide documents and information requested by SPLC lawyers representing Marquez.

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. 

LGBT Rights

Date Filed

December 16, 2013

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.

Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 07, 2013

When Alabama legislators revised the state’s anti-immigrant law in 2012, they passed a law requiring the state to maintain an online list of immigrants who are detained by law enforcement, who appear in court for any violation of state law, and who unable to prove they are not “unlawfully present aliens.” It provided no means for people to be removed from this “black list” if the listing is an error or if their immigration status changes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal lawsuit to stop this state-sanctioned “blacklisting” of immigrants, which could encourage harassment and violence.

Economic Justice

Date Filed

August 28, 2013

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.

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