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American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia Records - Guide to Selected Case Files: Racial Justice

The ACLU of Georgia's records are housed at the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies. This guide provides further description about the cases litigated by the ACLU of Georgia which are best documented in the records.

Description

The U.S. has a long history of both state-sponsored and private action against racial minorities. Various constitutional amendments (e.g. the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments) and federal statutes (e.g. the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965) have been passed with the aim of remedying past injustices. The ACLU of Georgia believes that addressing racial inequalities and injustices is crucial to a functioning society that reflects the aims of the law.


The ACLU of Georgia monitors government and private entities for instances of racial injustice. Further, it engages in legislative and public opinion campaigns to advocate for the reform of policies that make racial injustice possible. Lastly, the ACLU of Georgia participates in the national ACLU’s Racial Justice Program.

Cases

Armour v. Nix, 1972-1980

General Description: School Desegregation

Summary of the Issues Involved: African American parents of children attending schools in metropolitan Atlanta filed suit seeking integration of these schools. The district court found that there were very few, if any, vestiges of segregation within the defendant-school districts. However, it acknowledged that the neighborhoods surrounding the school districts remained segregated. The plaintiffs argued that discriminatory practices of the school districts led to housing patterns that caused segregation in the schools. Despite that argument, the district court held that the school districts had not presently engaged in any segregative practices and found no constitutional violation. The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the district court’s decision.

 

“Driving While Black” Campaign, circa 1999 - ongoing

General Description: Racial Profiling

Summary of the Issues Involved: Following a traffic stop and detention of Robert L. Wilkins, the ACLU’s Maryland affiliate filed a class action alleging officers engaged in racial profiling when conducting traffic stops. Concurrently, the ACLU launched a national campaign to raise awareness and lobby against use of racial profiling in policing.

 

Guevara v. City of Norcross, 2000-2002

General Description: English Sign Ordinance

Summary of the Issues Involved: The City of Norcross adopted an ordinance requiring use of the English language on signs unless a sworn affidavit was filed to provide the City with the complete translation of any foreign words not translated in English on the sign. Guevara, a local minister, received citations after erecting Spanish-language signs on church property. With the aid of the ACLU of Georgia, he filed this action challenging the ordinance. Eventually, the City filed a motion for summary judgment that was granted by the court; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld that decision.

 

Sierra Club v. Georgia Department of Transportation

General Description: City Planning and Access to Transportation

Summary of the Issues Involved: The ACLU of Georgia brought this case on  behalf of plaintiffs challenging the Atlanta Regional Transportation Plan on the grounds that it failed to take into consideration the transportation needs of minorities, the elderly, and those living with disabilities.