The NAACP Legal Department maintains an active docket of Civil Rights cases, frequently in conjunction with a team of cooperating lawyers around the nation who work daily in the courts alongside the Legal Department to address Civil Rights violations and forge the way in the fight to prevent the erosion of Civil Rights law in this country.
While the NAACP does seek monetary relief in these cases, the primary focus of the NAACP’s Legal Program is to obtain injunctive relief in these cases to halt the perpetuation of the harm. The NAACP may become involved in civil rights litigation in one of two ways:
- The NAACP may file a lawsuit against a person or entity as an organizational Plaintiff to redress a civil rights violation; or
- The NAACP Legal Department may represent a individual or class of individual Plaintiffs in a civil rights lawsuit seeking redress for the Plaintiff or class of Plaintiffs who suffered a civil rights violation
Below is a list of selected NAACP Civil Rights cases in recent years:
Fast-Food Workers’ Landmark Minimum Wage Lawsuit Revived, Charges Alabama Violated Equal Protection Laws in Blocking Increase to $10.10
July 25, 2018: The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Wednesday to overturn a lower court’s 2017 dismissal of a lawsuit charging Alabama violated federal equal protection laws when it passed a state law blocking a minimum wage increase to $10.10 an hour for 40,000 workers in Birmingham—returning it to district court for trial.
The landmark lawsuit was filed in 2016 by Birmingham fast-food workers in the Fight for $15, the Alabama State Conference of the NAACP, the Alabama Black Legislative Caucus and Greater Birmingham Ministries.
“We fought hard to win our pay raise, and Birmingham workers deserve to have our day in court to show that the state of Alabama was wrong to take away our raise,” said Antoin Adams, a plaintiff in the suit and Fight for $15 leader. “We’re not going to let a handful of rich white lawmakers steal away our shot at getting out of poverty, and today’s decision is an important victory in our fight for the raise we deserve.”
In the lawsuit, filed in April 2016 in U.S. District Court in Birmingham, the plaintiffs allege that HB 174—a bill rushed through the state legislature in February 2016 and signed by the governor that nullified a raise for 40,000 workers— was intended to be racially discriminatory and that it violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.
Read more here at NAACP.org News.
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NAACP Sues Connecticut over Prison Gerrymandering, First State-Wide Challenge in Nation
June 28, 2018: Counting disenfranchised prisoners where they are confined instead of at their home address inflates the voices of rural, white residents and dilutes votes in Communities of Color
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), together with the NAACP Connecticut State Conference and individual NAACP members who live in five of the most overcrowded Connecticut state legislative districts, filed lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut to challenge the practice of counting prisoners as residents of the state legislative districts where they are incarcerated rather than in their home districts—a practice known as “prison gerrymandering.” Connecticut, like many states, disenfranchises prisoners and has concentrated its prisons primarily in rural areas. The effect is that white, rural voters in the districts where prisons are located have their electoral power unconstitutionally inflated, at the expense of voters of color in other, over-crowded districts.
The lawsuit is the first statewide challenge to the practice of counting prisoners where they are incarcerated. The plaintiffs seek to compel the State of Connecticut to adopt a new redistricting map that counts incarcerated individuals in their home state legislative districts rather than in the districts where they are being incarcerated, thereby safeguarding the Fourteenth Amendment principle of “one person, one vote.” Read more at NAACP.org News and read the complaint here.
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NAACP; Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees; and the Haitian Lawyers Association, Inc. v. First Amended Complaint United States Department Of Homeland Security, et. al.
April 18, 2018: Haitian Civil Rights Organizations Join NAACP and LDF in TPS Lawsuit
The NAACP, the nation’s premier grassroots civil rights organization, filed an amended complaint in its ongoing lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Homeland Security for its decision to rescind the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) for Haitian immigrants. Haitian Women for Haitian Refugees (HWHR) and the Haitian Lawyers’ Association (HLA) have now joined the lawsuit. The plaintiffs are represented by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF).
The lawsuit claims that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), former Acting DHS Secretary Elaine C. Duke, and current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson discriminated against Haitian immigrants with TPS, in violation of the Fifth Amendment. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full amended complaint here.
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NAACP; Prince George’s County, Maryland; Prince George’s County, Maryland NAACP; et al. v. Bureau of the Census; Donald Trump, President of the United States; The United States; et al.
March 28, 2018: NAACP, Prince George’s County sue over unconstitutional census preparations, alleging understaffing, underfunding, and design flaws which threaten massive 2020 undercount
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), America’s largest and original legacy civil rights organization — together with Prince George’s County, Maryland, the NAACP Prince George’s County Branch and two county residents — sued the federal government today to combat the imminent threat that the 2020 Census will substantially undercount African Americans and other people of color in communities throughout the United States, causing inequalities in political representation and deficiencies in federal funding of those communities. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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NAACP, et al. v. City of Myrtle Beach, et al.,
February 27, 2018: NAACP files suit against Myrtle Beach for racially discriminatory practices during Black Bike Week, accuses City and Police of separate and unequal treatment of black bikers versus white bikers
The National NAACP, the Myrtle Beach Branch of the NAACP and three individuals filed a complaint and motion for preliminary injunction in U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina alleging that the City of Myrtle Beach and the City of Myrtle Beach Police Department discriminate against African-American tourists. The complaint alleges that there are stark differences in the treatment of African-American bikers during Black Bike Week compared to the treatment of majority-White bikers during Harley Week. Both events occur in May with Black Bike Week held over the Memorial Day Weekend and with Harley Week ending a week before Black Bike Week starts. The two events attract a similar number of visitors to the Myrtle Beach area.
According to the complaint, the City of Myrtle Beach and its police department impose no formal traffic plan during Harley Week. However, during Black Bike Week they restrict the main two-way thoroughfare, Ocean Boulevard, to a single lane of southbound traffic. All vehicles entering Ocean Boulevard at night are forced to travel through a 23-mile loop with just one exit. On Saturday night of Black Bike Week, it could take over six hours to complete the loop. The complaint also alleges that the City deploys far more police officers during Black Bike Week than Harley Week and that the police officers utilize overly aggressive policing tactics against African Americans. As described in the complaint, the City seeks to make Black Bike Week sufficiently unpleasant for the mostly African-American motorcyclists, hoping that they stop attending the event and that it ceases to exist. The NAACP believes the city and police are attempting to deter African Americans tourists and bikers from visiting Myrtle Beach. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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NAACP v. United States Department of Homeland Security; Elaine Costanzo Duke, in Her Official Capacity; and Kirstjen Nielsen, in Her Official Capacity
January 25, 2018: Lawsuit Filed Against U.S. Department of Homeland Security in Response to Removal of Temporary Protective Status for Haitian Immigrants
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s decision to rescind the Temporary Protective Status (TPS) designation for Haitian immigrants discriminates against immigrants of color, in violation of the Fifth Amendment, according to a lawsuit filed January 25, 2010, on behalf of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) by the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland.
The lawsuit claims that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), former Acting DHS Secretary Elaine C. Duke, and current DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielson took irrational and discriminatory government action, denying Haitian immigrants their right to due process and equal protection under the Fifth Amendment. The NAACP, acting on behalf of its Haitian members who are TPS protected, argues that DHS intended to discriminate against Haitian immigrants living in the United States because of their race and national origin. Read more at NAACP.org News and read full complaint here.
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NAACP, American Federation of Teachers, AFL- CIO, and the United Food and Commercial Workers International Workers, CLC v. Donald J. Trump, in his official capacity as President of the United States, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, in His Official Capacity as U.S. Attorney General; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; Department of Homeland Security; and the United States Of America, et al.
October 24, 2017: AFT and UFCW join in NAACP’s lawsuit to protect DACA, groups cite Trump’s disregard of due process for DACA recipients
Two of the nation’s most powerful unions joined the NAACP in a lawsuit defending DACA against the Trump administration’s attempts to end the program.
Today, the American Federation of Teachers and the United Food and Commercial Workers joined the NAACP’s lawsuit citing a lack of due process for DACA recipients and the Trump’s administration’s failure to undertake the required “analysis or rulemaking procedures required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act and the Administrative Procedure Act” –laws designed to protect the public against abuses of power. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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NAACP v. Donald J. Trump, in His Official Capacity as President of the United States; Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, in His Official Capacity as U.S. Attorney General; et al.
September 18, 2017: Lawsuit in Defense of DACA Eligible People of Color
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the country’s original civil rights organization, today filed a lawsuit against President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Homeland Secretary Elaine Duke, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Department of Homeland Security, in defense of people of color eligible for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA).
There are approximately 800,000 DACA recipients across the country, and more that would have been eligible for the program had it not been unnecessarily and unconstitutionally cancelled. The vast majority of DACA registrants and those eligible for DACA are people of color. More than 80% of registrants are of Mexican origin, according to the Migration Policy Institute; about 36,000 immigrants of African origin were also immediately eligible for the DACA program. Additionally, the report shows that over 20,000 youth from Caribbean nations of the Dominican Republic and Jamaica are eligible for DACA. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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NAACP v. U.S. Department of Commerce (National Office, Connecticut State Conference and Boston Branch)
October 5, 2017: NAACP sues U.S. Commerce Department for refusal to disclose records on preparations for 2020 Census, alleging that understaffing and underfunding put voting rights, federal programs in jeopardy
The NAACP, the NAACP Connecticut State Conference, and the NAACP Boston Branch (“NAACP”) filed a federal lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act to compel the Commerce Department to produce records it has unlawfully withheld about preparations for the 2020 Census.
Planning for the census has been disrupted by President Trump’s hiring freeze, the abrupt resignation of the head of the Census Bureau, and huge budgetary shortfalls. These developments prompted the Government Accountability Office to label the 2020 Census a “high risk program.”
In June, the NAACP requested documents relating to the Census Bureau’s plans to mitigate these risks. After having failed to produce a single record for months, the Bureau responded this week with a wholly inadequate production that did not address the majority of the NAACP’s requests. The Constitution requires the federal government to conduct a decennial census. The government uses Census data to apportion seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, draw legislative districts, enforce voting rights, build schools, and allocate more than $400 billion in federal funds. Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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League of Women Voters of Indiana v. Connie Lawson, in Her Official Capacity as Secretary of State for the State Of Indiana; et al. (Indiana State Conference)
August 24, 2017: NAACP Files Lawsuit against Indiana for Unlawful Voter Purges, Says SB 442 Violates National Voter Registration Act
The Indiana State Conference of the NAACP and the League of Women Voters of Indiana have filed a lawsuit against the Indiana Secretary of State and the Indiana Election Division to prevent the unlawful removal of voters from the registration rolls. The lawsuit challenges SB 442, a law that was passed in April 2017 and eliminates the requirement for Indiana state officials to comply with safeguards when removing certain voters from registration rolls.
Under this law, officials can immediately remove voters who purportedly registered in another state without notifying or verifying the move with the voter. Indiana officials screen such voters with the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck, a system which has been shown to be unreliable as the sole method for identifying and removing voters who may have moved from one state to another.Read more at NAACP.org News and read the full complaint here.
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Lawsuit filed against State of Indiana for voting rights violation
August 10, 2017: The NAACP will participate as a plaintiff in case challenging Indiana’s SB 220.
Today, the Indiana State Conference of the NAACP filed a lawsuit against the State of Indiana, its general assembly, and various election officials challenging Indiana’s SB 220 as violating Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
In August 2017, the Indiana Governor, Eric Holcomb, signed into law Senate Bill 220, which requires Lake County – home to the second largest African-American population and largest Latino population in the state – to consolidate polling locations that had 600 or fewer active voters assigned to that location as of November 1, 2016. Senate Bill 220 applies only to Lake County and would not require any other county in the state to make such provisions. Read more at NAACP.org News.
Learn about more cases here in the Legal Docket Archive section.