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Advancing Equality and Fighting Discrimination

The firm is deeply committed to ensuring that marginalized people and communities are not denied equal rights - it is at the core of our pro bono work. We are on the cutting edge of civil rights work, often serving as counsel in matters making national headlines. Much of our work in this area has focused on racial equity, particularly fighting racial discrimination in housing and education, and litigating and advocating for reform of America’s criminal justice system.

Representative Matters

Marriage Equality

Covington has a strong history of supporting marriage equality. In Maryland, Covington served as Marylanders for Marriage Equality’s principal outside legal counsel during the General Assembly’s consideration of the Civil Marriage Protection Act, the Maryland Marriage Alliance’s petition effort, and the campaign to win the popular vote. In DC, the firm represented a coalition of same-sex marriage supporters in the defense of equality legislation. Covington also played a role in challenging the constitutionality of California Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution and eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.

Fighting the Transgender Military Service Ban

On behalf of the ACLU and six transgender U.S. service members, Covington challenged the Administration's ban on transgender military service members on the grounds that it violates equal protection and substantive due process.

Voting Rights

Our voting rights practice seeks to support the right of all voters to have equal access to vote and be counted. Our work includes several cases challenging restrictions on voting by mail and to enforce state laws permitting access to absentee voting. We are challenging voter suppression patterns and practices that disproportionately affect communities of color in Georgia, and early voting and photo ID procedures that disproportionately impact Black voters in Alabama. In Missouri, we obtained a favorable settlement to fight back against voter disenfranchisement that particularly affected communities of color and lower-income Missourians, and the state is now required to change its voter registration practices to expand voter access and reduce disenfranchisement.

Preserving Representative Democracy

After an eight-day bench trial, Covington secured a nationwide injunction prohibiting the addition of a citizenship question to the 2020 Census. Representing 20 individuals living in areas with high numbers of Latino and non-citizens, Covington established that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s citizenship question threatened to cause a disproportionate undercount, leading to unequal legislative representation and unfair reductions in federal funding. We also successfully argued that the Commerce Secretary’s addition of the citizenship question was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and were pursuing an Equal Protection claim when the Administration finally agreed to submit to the injunction. Coordinating with parallel New York and California litigation, Covington played a key role in reversing the Secretary’s ill-conceived and unlawful action and protecting the integrity of the Census.  

Protecting Women’s Reproductive Rights

Our firm is committed to protecting women’s rights to family planning and reproductive health. From legal advice to impact litigation, we have collaborated with organizations including Feminist Majority Foundation, Planned Parenthood, Power to Decide, and the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Fighting Racial Profiling

Covington led systemic class action cases seeking to end the racially discriminatory police practice of stop & frisk in Milwaukee and New York City. In Maricopa County, AZ, we challenged the sheriff’s use of pretextual traffic stops targeting the Latino community. We achieved successful outcomes in all three cases. We co-counsel with the Center for Constitutional Rights in litigation challenging traffic checkpoints targeting Black drivers in Buffalo, NY. We successfully settled a case challenging racial profiling of Black youth by private security and local police at a large shopping mall. In 2020, we were among the first firms to join the ACLU of Louisiana’s litigation campaign, “Justice Lab: Putting Racist Policing on Trial,” a collaboration involving private law firms committed to collectively representing hundreds of individuals in Louisiana who have been victimized by racially-motivated stops and seizures by police.

Removing Public Symbols of White Supremacy

On behalf of the NAACP, we successfully advocated to force the removal of the names of prominent Confederate leaders from two public schools in Virginia. With the Southern Poverty Law Center, we authored an amicus brief supporting efforts to cover a Confederate memorial in Birmingham, Alabama.

News and Insights