Course - Law
Prerequisites: None  
Recommended Courses: Federal Courts, Statutory Interpretation, Constitutional Law II are recommended as follow-up advanced courses, but not required for a complete understanding of the course materials. 

Meets: Mondays from 1:30pm to 3:20pm (note that any conflict with other courses have been fixed).


Over the last 50 years, civil rights litigation has spurred dramatic changes in American life, affecting hiring, housing, voting, education, law enforcement and the justice system itself.
As is the case with Federal Courts, this course covers controversial issues which are at the forefront of the current legal and political landscape.  We will explore issues like pregnancy discrimination; the litigation of same-sex marriage cases; what rights are protected and how to vindicate them; Civil Gideon and Human Rights; can international law inform civil rights litigation?


It is an introduction to the enforcement of our civil rights through developing an understanding of the procedural and remedial aspects of enforcing civil rights-both constitutional and statutory-in the federal courts. The course covers exciting and intellectually stimulating material, which is directly related to the practice of civil rights litigation.  We will cover the basic federal civil rights statute, 42 U.S.C.  §§ 1983-1985, the parallel Bivens cause of action, and of course, the Fourteenth Amendment.  We will also survey  legislation that establishes rights beyond those protected by the Constitution – i.e., employment, status, ethnicity, the handicapped, and other federally assisted programs, as well as remedies for the violation of those statutory rights.


Topics will include: the rules of individual and official liability as well as the defenses of official and sovereign immunity under Section 1983; the relationship between state and federal courts in civil rights actions; an exploration of the doctrines that evolved under substantive and procedural due process in the context of civil rights; the availability of damages and other remedies in constitutional tort cases; and the rules governing the award of statutory attorney's fees. The course will conclude with a study of special problems that arise in complex civil rights legislation.



Civil Rights

Abernathy's Cases & Materials on Civil Rights &
Constitutional Litigation

4th edition

ISBN-13: 9780314159496
ISBN: 0314159495
Series: American Casebook Series


Course Format Class attendance and participation are mandatory (per ABA/Law School policy), including for students who decide to take the substantial paper option. Class format combines lecture and discussion, with an emphasis on discussion -- the materials are very engaging and all class members are expected to engage one another in a thoughtful discussion of the readings. We will also attempt to schedule practitioners and judges experienced with litigating and managing complex civil rights cases.  
Written Assignments There will be one short essay -- maximum 3 pages -- due at the middle of the semester, which will count for 20 percent of your final grade.  
Type of Exam There will be one final, open-book, open-note final exam. 
Basis for grading  
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