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Spring 2025 Course

Civil Rights Litigation

Prerequisite: Civil Procedure

Exam Type: One-Day Take-home

In developing rules for the enforcement of constitutional and statutory civil rights through civil actions, the Supreme Court has attempted to balance the need to enforce the Constitution and civil rights laws with countervailing interests such as state sovereignty, separation of powers, and the goal of protecting officers from being deterred from the performance of their duties. With that balancing act as backdrop, this course will trace the evolution of the legal tools available to civil rights plaintiffs and the legal obstacles they must overcome to obtain relief, including immunities, justiciability, and limitations on the enforceability of statutory rights. We will analyze the applicable legal principles both in terms of their theoretical and policy underpinnings and their practical effects, in order to provide students considering careers involving civil rights litigation with a solid foundation in civil rights enforcement doctrines and to consider broadly how procedural rules can dictate substantive outcomes and how gaps develop between rights and remedies.