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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.

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.

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.

Economic Justice
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 02, 1994

Indigent dialysis patients face terrible dilemmas, such as being forced to decide whether to buy food or get transportation to medical care. In 1994, the Center filed a suit obtaining medically necessary transportation for Medicaid recipients in need. Although the case was ultimately lost on appeal, Alabama Medicaid recipients currently receive state-funded transportation due to the Center's lawsuit.

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.

Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

December 01, 1992

For some it's a symbol of oppression; for others, a symbol of pride. The Confederate battle flag had flown over the Alabama state capitol since 1963, until a lawsuit by the Center forced it down.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

December 01, 2010

Students in Birmingham, Ala., schools were sprayed with pepper spray as punishment for routine offenses. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of district students to end the practice and other abusive and unconstitutional behavior.

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.

Criminal Justice Reform

Date Filed

May 27, 1997

Inside Chess, Harper's, Astronomy, Writer's Digest — only a few of the hundreds of publications effectively banned in 1997 under an arbitrary policy implemented by the Alabama prison's warden. The Center sued, securing an agreement protecting inmates' rights to mailed reading materials.

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