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Course Descriptions
USC Gould School of Law

Civil Rights Law     LAW-686

This course examines the ways in which the Constitution and federal civil rights laws are enforced and implemented. It is an overview of various areas of civil rights law, with particular attention to litigation under 42 USC '1983, a Reconstruction-era law that remains the primary statutory tool for redress of constitutional violations by state actors. By looking at a variety of Section 1983 cases, especially in the areas of police misconduct and unconstitutional state laws, we will examine how these cases are litigated and defended. We will investigate the history of section 1983 and its treatment by the Supreme Court as well as the nuts and bolts of how to use the statute: proper defendants, venue, claims, remedies, defenses, immunities, and other procedural hurdles plaintiffs must clear.

We will also survey certain important civil rights statutes, in particular the Voting Rights Act, Title VII (employment discrimination) and Title VI (discrimination in federally funded programs) of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

In addition to those with an interest in civil rights, the course will be especially useful to students who plan to seek judicial clerkships or federal government work, since Section 1983 and other civil rights cases make up a significant portion of all cases in the federal courts. The course will also touch on important themes in understanding the American political and legal system, such as federalism, state and federal sovereign immunity, and the role of race in American law.

Units 3
Grading Options Numeric Only
Exam Type In-class, Open-book Exam
Writing Requirement No
Skills/Experiential Requirement No

Grading Options: vary with the professor

Professors Teaching This Course