Scales of Justice in Courtroom

Legal Docket

For decades, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California has used the courts to protect and expand the rights of all Californians. From fighting against the internment of Japanese Americans, to suing California Highway Patrol for targeting Black and Latinx drivers, the ACLU is building a more just state one lawsuit at a time.

In re Marriage Cases

May 15, 2008
On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the state to ban same-sex couples from civil marriage. The ACLU Foundation of Northern California and co-counsel represent a group of committed lesbian and gay couples as well as two non-profit organizations, Equality California and Our Family Coalition. Our co-counsel are the National Center for Lesbian Rights, La... Read More

Cheema v. Thompson

Jun 19, 2006
Baptized Sikh students permitted to wear symbolic ceremonial knives to school The ACLU Foundation of Northern California filed a lawsuit in federal court challenging restrictions on an asylum seeker's right to wear a religious head covering. The plaintiff, Harpal Singh Cheema, is a devout Sikh, imprisoned since 1997 while awaiting a decision on his asylum application. The lawsuit charges that ... Read More


Jan 17, 2006
On January 17, 2006 the ACLU filed the first lawsuit against the Bush administration in connection with their spying program. "President Bush may believe he can authorize spying on Americans without judicial or Congressional approval, but this program is illegal and we intend to put a stop to it," said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. "The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in the Eas... Read More

California First Amendment Coalition (CFAC) v. Calderon

Jul 15, 2005
In July, 2005 the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals found that there may no be any reason to bar the media from witnessing executions. Judge Hawkins writes, in his opinion for the en banc court, "We agree that executions are unquestionably matters 'of great public importance.' Pell, 417 U.S. at 830 n.7. Moreover, we believe that more information leads to a better informed public." While it had previo... Read More

Benitez v. Montoya

May 18, 2005
The New Haven Unified School District and the City of Union City have each reached groundbreaking settlements with students in Union City as a result of a federal lawsuit brought by the ACLU Foundation of Northern California on behalf of three high school students whose civil rights were violated. On February 22, 2002 the three were rounded up along with a group of mostly Latino and Asian students... Read More

Williams v. State of California

Mar 23, 2005
On May 17, 2000, the ACLU Foundations of California, along with other civil rights organizations, filed a lawsuit against the State of California because of the terrible conditions in many of its public schools. We argued that the State is failing to provide thousands of public school students, particularly those in low income communities and communities of color, with the basic necessities req... Read More

Johnson v. California

Feb 23, 2005
For nearly 25 years, the California Department of Corrections (CDC) held an unwritten policy of segregating prisoners by race for, upon entry to a new facility. However, in February, 2005 the Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, declared this policy was not up to constitutional standards. The CDC implemented this policy in order to curb interracial violence. Upon entry to a new facility each... Read More

Local 10, ILWU v. City of Oakland

Nov 09, 2004
As part of a settlement agreement the Oakland Police Department (OPD) has agreed to end the use of less lethal weapons against demonstrators. The suit was brought by 52 participants of a peaceful anti-war protest that occurred on April 7, 2003. Representation of the group included the National Lawyers Guild, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, and a team of civil rights attorneys. At le... Read More

Clement v. California Department of Corrections

Jun 23, 2003
The landmark case Clement v. California Department of Corrections was brought on behalf of Pelican Bay prisoner Frank Clement by the ACLU Foundation of Northern California and the Prison Law Office. Clement filed a federal court challenge to the California Department of Corrections policy prohibiting inmates at the prison from receiving any mail that contains material printed from the Internet. A ... Read More

Gordon v. FBI

Apr 22, 2003
The federal government settles a lawsuit that made public, for the first time, hundreds of records about the government's secret "No-Fly" list. Read More