As part of the ongoing Pizza with the Professors series, Visiting Distinguished Professor Steven H. Steinglass
presented “What Every Law Student (and Lawyer) Should Know About §1983 Litigation” in the student lounge off main street in the Main Law Building at 12:00 p.m. on Thursday, November 3rd.
Attendees received a one-page handout that contained the language of the original Civil Rights Act of 1871, known as the Ku Klux Klan Act as well as the text of 42 U.S.C §1983. Professor Steinglass opened up the discussion by noting that they are 3 things in particular to remember about §1983: that it is a remedy, that “as a remedy, it contains no substantive rights” and it purely a remedial statute, and that it is “also not a jurisdictional statute.”
Professor Steinglass discussed the history of the statute, including the process of incorporation in the United States Supreme Court. He briefly discussed the 1961 case Monroe v. Pape in which the Court held that §1983 is a supplemental civil remedy available in suits against local government officials for conduct that violates both state law and the federal constitution even when states have adequate remedies to vindicate such claims.
Throughout the program, Professor Steinglass took questions from the audience. He also articulated the various ways in which certain terms within the statute have been interpreted, focusing particularly on what the phrase “Every person” indicates. The term does not cover, for instance, those who would not be subject to such laws under common law tradition, like legislators.
Professor Steinglass closed the program with a few remarks about his personal experiences appearing before the Supreme Court to argue two §1983 cases.
The final Pizza with the Professors Event for the fall semester will take place on Monday, November 14th and will focus on environmental regulations.