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Landmark Case

Date Filed

December 23, 1970

A married female Air Force officer sued the U.S. Department of Defense to secure the same benefits enjoyed by married male officers. The Center's historic challenge led to a landmark Supreme Court decision, the first successful sex discrimination lawsuit against the federal government.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 08, 2014

Gulf Coast seafood company R&A Oysters failed to properly pay guest workers it recruited to the United States on temporary H-2B work visas.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit in 2014 on behalf of a group of migrant workers the company hired to shuck and process...

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

April 09, 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.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

January 19, 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.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

November 09, 2011

The state of Georgia discriminated against students with disabilities by funding public schools through a formula that encouraged schools to unnecessarily segregate students with disabilities to receive greater funding. The Department of Justice launched an investigation after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint with the department charging the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

June 02, 2011

Georgia in 2011 enacted a law authorizing police to demand "papers" demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, criminalizes Georgians who interact with undocumented individuals, and makes it unjustifiably difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services. The SPLC joined a group of organizations in filing a class action lawsuit challenging the law on constitutional grounds.

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.

Date Filed

October 30, 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.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

February 19, 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.

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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