Civil rights assured by the United States Constitution can be protected under a Section 1983 Action. This Federal Statute, which is set forth below, permits all individuals to file a lawsuit seeking monetary and other damages for violations of their constitutional rights by state and local governments and their officials.
42 U.S. Code § 1983 – Civil action for deprivation of rights
“Every person who, under color of any statute, ordinance, regulation, custom, or usage, of any State or Territory or the District of Columbia, subjects, or causes to be subjected, any citizen of the United States or other person within the jurisdiction thereof to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws, shall be liable to the party injured in an action at law, suit in equity, or other proper proceeding for redress, except that in any action brought against a judicial officer for an act or omission taken in such officer’s judicial capacity, injunctive relief shall not be granted unless a declaratory decree was violated or declaratory relief was unavailable. For the purposes of this section, any Act of Congress applicable exclusively to the District of Columbia shall be considered to be a statute of the District of Columbia.”
The landmark United States Supreme Court case, Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961), gave private litigants a Federal Court remedy as a first resort. Section 1983 actions commonly involve 1st Amendment issues like freedom of speech; 4th Amendment issues like search and seizure or use of force; 5th Amendment issues like a taking of property without just compensation, 8th Amendment issues like cruel and unusual punishment; and 14th Amendment claims of due process violations. These actions are typically, but not always, brought in the United States District Court. They may also involve related supplemental or ancillary claims under State Law.