Restoring Access to Justice: The Impact of Iqbal and Twombly on Federal Civil Rights Litigation
Partner, Co-Chair, Anti-Discrimination Practice, WilmerHale
General Counsel, Montgomery County Public Schools
ACS is pleased to distribute "Restoring Access to Justice: The Impact of Iqbal and Twombly on Federal Civil Rights Litigation," an Issue Brief by Joshua Civin, Assistant Counsel, and Debo P. Adegbile, Associate Director-Counsel and Director of Litigation, at the NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Inc. In their Issue Brief, Mr. Civin and Mr. Adegbile discuss the fundamental impact that civil rights litigation in federal court has had on Americans’ "understanding of citizenship, access to education, jury service, the right to counsel, access to the voting booth, marriage, and equal employment opportunity,” among other things. Although the plaintiffs in these cases were by no means assured of success in vindicating their rights, it was their ability to access the courts, even when they had novel or difficult-to-prove cases, that at least gave them the opportunity to try.
Despite our history of “progress toward the Constitutional aspiration of a ‘more perfect Union’” through this important litigation, the authors contend that in two recent decisions – Ashcroft v. Iqbal and Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly – “the Supreme Court [has] skewed the balance away from access to courts by elevating the threshold standard that all plaintiffs must meet to pursue legal claims.” Mr. Civin and Mr. Adegbile argue that the Court’s changes to the pleading standard in federal court are having a “detrimental impact . . . on our legal system in general and on civil rights in particular.” They conclude by urging Congress to take action “to ensure that Twomblyand Iqbal do not create an undesirable safe harbor that effectively places some defendants beyond the reach of civil rights laws” or other statutes.
Read the full Issue Brief here: Restoring Access to Justice: The Impact of Iqbal and Twombly on Federal Civil Rights Litigation