In situations where the government is abridging the rights or the privileges of citizens of the United States, constitutional litigation is frequently the citizen’s only recourse. This is true whether the government doing the oppression is the local, state or federal government. Whether it is the civil rights of an individual, excessive taxation, or the abridgment of one of the liberties found in the Bill of Rights, a “section 1983” lawsuit or an action more specifically rooted in the Bill of Rights is frequently the best recourse of the citizen.
At Cornerstone Law Firm we take seriously the opportunity to handle constitutional litigation of a broad variety on behalf of citizens who have been wronged by our government. Our attorneys have handled civil rights cases, defending those accused of crimes, as well as First Amendment defense of free speech, religious liberties and free association. We have successfully challenged government overreach under both statutory and constitutional law.
Sovereign Immunity and Other Sticky Problems
The path to a successful constitutional lawsuit must take into account a number of very difficult legal issues. One is whether the bar of sovereign immunity founded in the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution will prohibit the lawsuit from being brought in the first instance, if it will limit the amount of financial damages that the aggrieved party is entitled to upon the successful conclusion of the suit. Another related matter is “qualified immunity,” whereby many state officials including police officers are often shielded from having to pay financial damages for their constitutional violations.
But just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible. The legal system offers a number of avenues toward successful resolution of constitutional conflict in both state and federal court. Section 1983 lawsuits, as discussed above, are rooted in the Fourteenth Amendment’s prohibition against state officers abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens. An effective lawsuit on these grounds requires careful preparation, as discovery against government officials can sometimes be harder to obtain; but a well-pleaded lawsuit will put the government officials or departments in question on the defensive, and can ultimately require them to answer to the courts for their actions.
Know your Objective
Results-minded litigation is the best approach to constitutional issues. Although many clients in constitutional cases are interested in the principles behind what they are fighting for, frequently the value that is created by the suit is quickly outpaced by the financial costs of litigation. Accordingly, it is important at the outset of a constitutional suit to determine the true objective of the suit. Is it simply to provide relief for the wronged citizen? Is it to vindicate some larger political or legal point in the state or in federal society? Whatever the goals or objectives are of the litigant, these should be communicated at the outset so that we can achieve the best results.
Considering a Constitutional Lawsuit? Contact Us
If you’re considering a constitutional lawsuit, contact us to discuss your options. In that meeting, be prepared to assess what your ultimate objectives are, and what outcomes you would be happy with. Our attorneys will help you determine the best path toward your desired result.