Rhode Island Affiliate, American Civil Liberties Union


Court Cases Over the Years

The Rights of the Poor

The ACLU works to ensure that all citizens have their basic rights protected regardless of their wealth or income. As Congress has severely restricted the ability of Legal Services agencies to handle cases, the Affiliate has taken up the slack. Below are some of the cases in which the Affiliate has been involved over the years:

1988: Addison v. Woonsocket Housing Authority

Favorably settled federal lawsuit challenging a Housing Authority policy barring foster children from residing with tenants.

1990: Arseneau v. Woonsocket Housing Authority

Favorably settled federal lawsuit on behalf of an unmarried couple with two children who were denied public housing solely because of their marital status.

1991: Whiting v. Town of Westerly

Federal lawsuit challenging a town ordinance that made it a crime to sleep in one’s car in public during the nighttime.

1993: Sammataro v. Sammataro

Successful appeal on behalf of a mother who lost custody of her daughter solely for receiving welfare assistance.

1993: State of Rhode Island (Janice Bilodeau O’Connor) v. Bilodeau

Representation in Family Court of a custodial parent ordered to reimburse the state for AFDC benefits she had legally received years earlier; the court overturned the order and the state halted its payback policy.

1995: City of Pawtucket v. Sundlun

“Friend of the court” brief arguing that the state’s method of funding public education discriminates against poorer school districts.

1995: Inscoe v. Family Court

Federal class-action lawsuit against state’s refusal to provide counsel to certain indigent juveniles facing criminal charges.

1997: Malave v. Ferguson

Successful class-action lawsuit challenging the adequacy of notices sent out by the state to certain welfare recipients subject to a newly-imposed monthly reduction in benefits.

1998: Westenfelder v. Ferguson

Successful lawsuit challenging a state law providing reduced welfare benefits to all residents who have not lived in Rhode Island for the immediately preceding twelve months.

1998: Dickerson v. Vose

Successful habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of an indigent person who was summarily found in contempt of court and incarcerated for over two years for failing to pay child support.

1998: Davis v. Woonsocket Housing Authority

Favorably settled lawsuit challenging a housing authority’s order barring two fathers, despite the mothers’ consent, from visiting their children living in the housing complex.

2001: Doeg v. Ferguson

Class-action suit challenging the Department of Human Services’ procedures in conducting food stamp fraud hearings.

2007: In re Kenneth K.

“Friend of the court” brief opposing efforts by DCYF to eliminate Family Court oversight of 18-to-21 year olds in the agency’s care.

2010: Spruill v. Alexander

Successful federal lawsuit challenging the state’s failure to process food stamp applications in a timely manner.

See Other Highlighted Discrimination Cases:

Return to: Recent Discrimination Cases

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