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Civil Rights
West Virginia University School of Law
Cleckley, Frank D.

Civil Rights Law

Class 1 (Monday, August 18, 2008)
· Announcements
§ MWF, 50 minutes, 11 am
§ Civil Rights and Constitutional Litigation Fourth Edition by Charles F. Abernathy
· Covers intro notes for first through third editions
· Cleckley says they’re interesting
· No supplement, lots of questions about many of these cases
§ Most cases are USSC cases
§ No seating chart, knows most of us, doesn’t take a role call
§ Final, no other exams
§ Will tell us during semester what most of the questions will involve
§ Page 9
· “Personal Liability” Model for § 1983
o pg 10, note 2
o Monroe court solves the problem of potential state-court favoritism toward state and local officials by interpreting “under color of law” in § 1983 to cover all unconstitutional actions by state and local officials, both those actions authorized by state law and those actions violative of state law.
· First question on exam, mult choice
· Mult choice, short essay, long essay
§ Anyone who has a question should raise their hand, it will be answered
· Cleckley is committed to answering questions
· Many don’t ask
· Can ask or leave a note
§ Secretary is Lily Moody in Room 120
· Can leave a question there as well
§ Pg. 955
· § 12101 ADA
· most important for this class § 1983
§ Terminology
· Means we’ll go very slowly
· First two weeks: two cases per day would be good
· October: pick up speed, 25-35 pages per day
§ Will try to cover every case in the book
· many we will concentrate on
o first and second cases in book, for instance
§ Exam
· TF
· Mult choice
· Essay(s)?
§ Short class today, need time to read Monroe v. Pape, 365 US 167 (1961)
· By Douglas
§ Pg 13
· Monell v. Dept of Soc Services of the City of New York, 436 US 658 (1978).
o Both of these on final
§ Wednesday: Monroe v. Pape and Monell
· Gives clear idea on what this course is about
Class 2 (Wednesday, August 20, 2008)

· Chapter 1: § 1983 State Interference with Civil Rights
· Monroe v. Pape, 365 US 167 (1961).
§ By Douglas
· Police entered home w/o warrant, forced Monroe to strip down, stand naked while the cops emptied drawers and ripping mattress covers
· Held at police station for 10 hours while he was interrogated for a 2 day old murder investigation
· Alleged that the cops had no search warrant and no arrest warrant, and the officers acted “under color of the statutes ordinances, regulations, customs, and usages” of Illinois and the City of Chicago
· Chicago moved to dismiss the complaint on the ground that it is not liable under the Civil Rights Act , said Monroe failed to state a claim (§12(b)(6) motion).
· District Court dismissed
· Court of Appeals affirmed
· Cert granted
· 42 USC § 1983 came onto the books as § 1 of the Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871
o provide a Federal remedy in situations where the state may not be following the Constitution
· 14th Amendment applied the 4th Amendment to state authorities
o Wolf v. People of State of Colorado, 338 US 25
· Limited issue: whether a government EE can be liable to a private citizen for violating their Constitution rights
· Excludes those gov employees who can show through law that they had no authority to do what they did
o § 1983
§ First, may override some state laws
§ Second, it provided a remedy where state law was inadequate
§ Third aim was to provide a federal remedy where the state remedy, though adequate in theory was not available in practice
· One reason this law passed was to afford federal right because, by reason of prejudice, passion, neglect, intolerance or otherwise, state laws might not be enforced and the claims of citizens to the enjoyment of rights, privileges, and immunities guaranteed by the 14th Amend might be denied by state agencies
· Doesn’t matter if there’s a state remedy, petitioner need not have sought state remedy and been denied, Federal claim on § 1983 grounds is supplementary
· US v. Classic: Misuse of power possessed by virtue of state law and made possible only b/c the wrongdoer is clothed with the authority of state law, is action taken “under color of state law”
o Reaffirmed in Screws v US
§ Argued therein, as in this case, that “under color of” state law included only action taken by officials pursuant to state law.
o No need for act to be “Willfully” done as required in Screws b/c that was a criminal claim, and this is civil
§ § 1983 should be read against the background that makes a man responsible for the natural consequences of his actions.
o However, the motion to dismiss the claim against the City of Chicago was proper, but not the claim against the officials (cops?)
o § 1983 probably wasn’t written so antagonistically to mean that “person” included municipalities
o Concurring by Harlan
§ Agrees b/c of previous cases, strong believer in stare decisis
o Dissent by Frankfurter
§ Believes maj was right that claim against city should be dismissed…state courts still the proper venue, 14th amend doesn’t change that
o Note on the “Personal Liability” Model for § 1983
§ If the state employs their judicial to affect a person’s status in a criminal or civil suit, the 14th amend applies of its own force w/o need for additional federal statutory enactment or supplementation of constitutional law
§ The 14th amend thus acts as a shield to protect against state action
o Note on Monroe
§ Author says it solves the problem of a state court covering for the actions of state and local government officials by interpreting “under color of state law” in § 1983 to cover all unconstitutional actions by state and local officials, both those actions authorized by state law and those actions violative of state law
§ Did Justice Douglas stretch § 1983 beyond what its drafters intended?
§ *Page 11, note 4
· What is the relationship between constitutional tort under § 1983 and state common law torts? Monroeforesees a regime in which § 1983 claims would be an equally available alternative to filing suit under state law: § 1983 is supplementary to the state remedy and the latter need not first be sought and refused before the federal on is invoked
· Note 4(a)
o Monroeoften cited for the proposition that the exhaustion of state judicial remedies is not required in § 1983 actions.
o See Patsy v. Board of Regents of the State of Florida
§ Page 12, Note 5
· Should constitutional torts under § 1983 be coterminus with state law torts? Why might standards under the two sources be different?
o A) Section 1983, with its state action limitation, regulates state-citizen relationships, whereas tort law remedies are made mostly to govern relationships between two private parties. Might the rules made to superintend state-citizen relationships be different from those made to su

l doctrine forbade the fed gov to impose new duties on local offices who had no such duties under state law
· Rep. Bingham, discussed § 1 of the bill, explained that he drafted § 1 of the 14th amend with the case of Barron v. Mayor of Baltimore (1833), esp. in mind “In that case the city had taken private property for public use w/o compensation and there was no redress for the wrong.”
o Remarks showed intent to provide a remedy for such wrongs by municipalities
o § 1 of the Civil Rights Act would logically be the vehicle by which congress provided redress for takings, since that section provided the only civil remedy for 14th amend violations and that Amendment unequivocally prohibited uncompensated takings.
· Debate on § 1 of the Civil Rights Bill
o § 1 intended to have “person” mean legal and natural persons
o the “usual” meaning of “person” would extend to municipal corporations
· Holding:
o Municipalities and other local gov. bodies can be sued under § 1983 for monetary, declaratory, or injunctive relief where, as here, the action that is alleged to be unconstitutional implements a policy or reg that is is officially adopted by that body’s officers which action is unconstitutional
o Congress didn’t intend municipalities to be held liable unless action pursuant to official municipal policy of some nature caused a constitutional tort
§ Municipality can’t be held liable simply for employing a tortfeasor
· Respondeat superior isn’t the guiding principle
o Notes Gov. Liability Model for § 1983
§ 1
· a) the legislative history of the Sherman Amendment, which seemed so dispositive to Justice Douglas in Monroe, is explained away in Monell:
o Proposed § 7 would have imposed on municipalities liability for the acts of private citizens, and constitutional rejection therefore only signified a rejection of such vicarious liability for private acts
o Rejection of §7 therefore fails to imply a rejection of municipal liability for it is own official’s actions
· b) The Dictionary Act allows Justice Brennan to make an argument about the facial meaning of the word “person”: specifically defined it to include gov entities in a statute enacted earlier by the same Congress
§ 2
· a) Why hasn’t Congress § 1983?
o Later case talks about Congressional amend to expand it to include D.C.
o So why not more changes?
o Notes on Stare Decisis and the Judciary’s Legislative Role
· all sides agree the issue was one of statutory interpretation
· a) § 1983 doesn’t provide for any substantive rights, only gives remedies for rights that are found elsewhere, usually the const. or federal statute
o chapman v. Houston welfare rights org. (1905)
§ Next class: read pgs 23-35