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Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski

Location: Florida, Georgia
Court Type: U.S. Supreme Court
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: December 7, 2021

What's at Stake

Whether a request for nominal damages to redress a past constitutional violation is sufficient to allow the court to rule, where the government has changed the challenged policy so there is no need for forward-looking relief.

Summary

The ACLU and its Florida and Georgia affiliates joined civil-rights organizations that span the ideological spectrum—Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and the Institute for Justice—in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court arguing that a claim for nominal damages means that a case is not moot merely because prospective injunctive relief is not available or necessary. Amici disagree about many issues, but share the belief that nominal damages play a critical role in preserving individuals’ ability to vindicate their constitutional rights and to challenge unconstitutional government policies.

Nominal damages (often of only one dollar) are designed to vindicate real injuries where the harm is difficult to quantify. They have been important in allowing individuals to vindicate a wide range of constitutional rights, from speech rights to religious freedom to equal protection of the law.

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