Section 1983 Litigation (Discussion from Symposium: The Supreme Court and Local Government Law The 1992-93 Term)
42 Pages Posted: 25 May 2014
Date Written: 1994
In 1989, it seemed that the Supreme Court was deciding an extraordinary number of Section 1983 cases each Term. By the time this Article was published in 1994, deciding a number of Section 1983 cases had become a routine practice in the Supreme Court. Each Term the Supreme Court gives a large number of important Section 1983 decisions. Upon thinking about it, that is not so surprising, given both the fact that Section 1983 litigation is quite multifaceted and because it produces such a large volume of litigation. The Section 1983 cases from the United States Supreme Court's 1992-1993 Term fall into four categories, which are used as the basis to organize the analysis of the cases in this Article. These categories are: the constitutional rights that are enforceable under Section 1983; the subject of municipal liability; decisions dealing with immunities; and the subject of statutory attorneys’ fees. The decisions from an overall standpoint produced a mixed bag of results: some of them were favorable to Section 1983 plaintiffs, some to defendants. The author’s evaluation is that, overall, it was a fairly good Term for Section 1983 claimants.
Keywords: Section 1983 litigation, U.S. Supreme Court, enforcement of constitutional rights, municipal liability, absolute immunity, qualified immunity, statutory attorneys’ fees
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