Research Guides

Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities

You may contact Jenny Rensler, the course liaison, for research-related questions at

Getting Started | Journals and Law Reviews | Databases | Primary Authorities | Secondary Authorities | Federal Legislative Materials | Federal Administrative Materials | Maryland Materials | Judicial Materials | Agencies, Associations, and NGOs | Bibliography

Getting Started on your research

As in all projects, unless you are already knowledgeable about the topic area, it is best to start with introductory resources and then to consult more focused works; moving from secondary to primary resources.

Articles and books can provide you with an overview of your topic and help you think of search terms that you might not have thought of otherwise. They will also cite primary authorities such as statutes and case law. You can then use the primary sources cited in the secondary sources as a jumping off point to find other primary sources.

  • Shepardize or KeyCite them to see what other sources have cited them;
  • Read cases to see what other sources they cite;
  • On Westlaw or in West Digests, look up the topics and key numbers in the cases you've already read to find other cases that address the same issues;
  • On Lexis, use "More Like This" to find other sources with wording or citation patterns similar to the document you started with;
  • Read annotations to statutes to find cross references to cases that have analyzed them or regulations that have been issued under their authority.

Journals and Law Reviews

The two main indexes to law journals are LegalTrac and Index to Legal Periodicals & Books (which includes books as well). These indexes include references to many journals not included in Westlaw or Lexis databases and in some cases provide access to the full text electronically. Each of these two online indexes has a parallel print version: the Current Law Index (K33 .C87), and the Index to Legal Periodicals (K9 .N32) are shelved near the print journals on level 1. The Index to Legal Periodicals is particularly helpful if you need to find articles published prior to 1980.

Additionally, many journals not subscribed to directly in a print version are available in electronic form via one of the library's databases. The list below of subscription databases should help you get started in locating these resources.

Most print journals are shelved on level 1 of the library, in alphabetical order by journal title. Many of these titles also have an electronic version. To find out if the library has a particular journal title in electronic format, please check the library's collection of electronic journals or ask a librarian for help.

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The Thurgood Marshall Law Library provides access to a number of different databases that cover the topic of election law and related political science and public policy topics. Researchers will find that these databases are valuable tools for conducting research during the introductory stage of a project as well as for locating more specialized resources.

  • Academic Search Premier. A general academic tool offering indexing and abstracts for more than 4,500 journals, including access to the full text of more than 3,600 journals.
  • Labor and Employment Library (BNA). Access to the full-text versions of the BNA Labor and Employment Law series.
  • CQ Researcher. Contains original reporting on complex and controversial current events and social, political, economic, and international issues
  • HeinOnline. Full-text, image-based collection of more than 700 legal periodical titles. Coverage for each journal starts at its inception and continues to the most current volume allowed under contract between Hein and the journal. Hein-On-Line also includes coverage of the Federal Register from 1936 to 1980.
  • Historical Publications of the United States Commission on Civil Rights. A database of historical reports from the U.S.C.C.R.
  • LEXIS. Database of legal and nonlegal information. Requires valid Lexis password.
  • LLMC Digital (Law Library Microform Consortium). This is the digital version of the LLMC microfilm collection, which consists primarily of historic government documents. An excellent resource for federal laws, administrative regulations and administrative decisions.
  • U.S. Law Week/Supreme Court Today (Tracks every Supreme Court petition and case on the docket, from filing to final disposition and highlights important federal and state legal developments, non-decisional and pre-decisional, across specialized fields).
  • Westlaw. Database of legal and nonlegal information. Requires valid Westlaw password.
  • WorldCat. An online catalog and database of books, audio, video and archival materials available in libraries around the world.

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Primary Authorities

"Primary authorities [law] are authorized statements of the law by governmental institutions. Such documents include the written opinions of courts (case law); constitutions; legislation; rules of court and the rules, regulations and opinions of administrative agencies." An Introduction to Legal Research. Jacobsten, Merskey and Dunn (1998).

Federal Legislative Materials

Federal Administrative Materials

Maryland Materials

The primary Maryland agencies that deal with issues of discrimination are the Maryland Department of Human Relations and the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Additional agencies can be found in the Maryland Manual.

Judicial Materials

NOTE: For both more comprehensive and more precise case law searches be sure to check either Lexis or Westlaw.

Lexis Tip: If you find one good case on Lexis, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "More Like This Headnote," or by Shepardizing the case to find other cases that have cited it for the issue represented by the headnote.

Westlaw Tip: If you find one good case on Westlaw, you may be able to find others by identifying the headnote(s) that best describes the issue of interest to you, then clicking "Most Cited Cases" for that headnote. You could also try clicking "KeyCite Notes" to fine other cases that have cited your case for the issue represented by that headnote.

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Secondary Authorities

"Secondary authority is anything other than primary authority [law] that a court could use as a basis for decision, should the matter you are researching come before a court...Secondary authority includes commentary sources...treatises, periodicals, dictionaries, and encyclopedias of various sorts." The Process of Legal Research: Successful Strategies. Kunz, Schmedemann, et al. (1992).

Legal Encyclopedias

Legal encyclopedias are a secondary source for understanding the law. They are an excellent resource for starting research particularly in an unfamiliar area of the law. Usually arranged alphabetically by subject the brief articles will contain citations to case law and statutes relevant to the topic.

  • West's Maryland Law Encyclopedia (KFM1265.W3)

Two other, more general, legal encyclopedias are:

  • Corpus Juris Secundum [commonly referred to as CJS] ( KF154 .C57)
  • American Jurisprudence [commonly referred to as AMJUR] (KF154 .A51)


Like legal encyclopedias commentaries are a secondary source that can provide valuable background when approaching a topic area that may be new to the researcher. There are a number of commentary types available although almost all share some basic features - detailed analysis of the issues represented by a particular case or series of cases; annotations to case law and relevant statutes; and some type of internal finding aid or index. The American Law Reports is one of the most frequently consulted type of commentary.

  • ALR (American Law Reports) (REF KF132.L2)

Additional sources of secondary material: hornbooks, nutshells, treatises, and restatements can be located by using the library's catalog.

Agencies, Associations, and Non-Governmental Organizations

Government agencies, think-tanks, scholarly Internet sites, non-profit organizations and even blogs may all be sources of valuable background information. When using any of these sites it is important to keep in mind the orientation or affiliation of the resource creator.

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The following is a partial list of the Civil Rights of Persons with Disabilities related materials available in the Thurgood Marshall Law Library. The material is listed by main entry with the title and/or author information in bold type. The Library also contains a complete set of United States Codes, Statutes at Large, Code of Federal Regulations, and the Federal Register. Additional materials may be located by searching the library's catalog.

Author: Anderson, John Christopher.
Title: Three generations later and still no class: protecting Americans with disabilities under 42 U.S.C. (section) 1985(3), the Ku Klux Klan Act.
Law Review Article: Drake Law Review v. 47 no3 ('99) p. 537-83.

Author: Bagenstos, Samuel R.
Title: Law and the contradictions of the disability rights movement.
General Collection: KF480.B345 2009

Author: Bartlett, Peter
Title: Mental disability and the European Convention on Human Rights

General Collection: KJC1020 .B37 2007

Author(s): Blanck, Peter David, 1957-, Millender, Michael.
Title: Before disability civil rights: Civil War pensions and the politics of disability in America.
Law Review Article: Alabama Law Review v. 52 no1 (Fall 2000) p. 1-50.

Author: Bruininks, Robert T.
Title: Living and learning in the least restrictive environment / edited by Robert H. Bruininks and K. Charlie Lakin.
General Collection: HV1553.L58 1985

Author: Callegary, Ellen.
Title: IDEA's Promise Unfulfilled: A Second Look at Special Education and Related Services for Children with Mental Health Needs after Garret...
Law Review Article: Journal of Health Care Law and Policy v. 5, no. 1 (2002)

Author: Colker, Ruth.
Title: The Americans with Disabilities Act: a windfall for defendants.
Law Review Article: Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review v. 34 no1 (Winter 1999) p. 99-162.

Author: Diller, Matthew.
Title: Judicial backlash, the ADA, and the civil rights model.
Law Review Article: Berkeley Journal of Employment and Labor Law v. 21 no1 (2000).

Author: Engel, David M., and Frank W. Munger.
Title: Rights of inclusion: law and identity in the life stories of Americans with disabilities.
General Collection: KF480.E494 2003

Author(s): Fentonmiller, Keith R.; Semmel, Herbert.
Title: Where age and disability discrimination intersect: an overview of the ADA for the ADEA practitioner.
Law Review Article: George Mason University Civil Rights Law Journal v. 10 no2 (Summer 2000) p. 227-90.

Author: Hans, Matthew C.
Title: Lake v. Arnold (112 F.3d 682 (3d Cir. 1997)): the disabled and the confused jurisprudence of 42 U.S.C. (section) 1985(3).
Law Review Article: The Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy v. 15 no2 (Spring 1999) p. 673-710.

Author: Healy, Ryan P.
Title: Civil rights--mitigating measures and the definition of disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990--a case of judicial myopia?
Law Review Article: Land and Water Law Review v. 35 no1 (2000) p. 211-33.

Author: Henderson, Robin L.
Title: Civil rights: the Americans with Disabilities Act: turning a blind eye towards legislative intent.
Law Review Article: Florida Law Review v. 52 no4 (Sept. 2000) p. 849-60.

Author: Hughes, K. D.
Title: Whose job is it anyway? A discussion of California's rule of exclusivity regarding workers' compensation laws and alternative causes of action.
Law Review Article: Whittier Law Review v. 21 no2 (Winter 1999) p. 493-518.

Title: Legislative history of Public Law 101-336, the Americans with Disabilities Act : prepared for the Committee on Education and Labor, U.S. House of Representatives, One Hundred First Congress, second session.
General Collection: KF480.A32A15 1991a

Author(s): Moss, Scott A.; Malin, Daniel A.
Title: Public funding for disability accommodations: a rational solution to rational discrimination and the disabilities of the ADA.
Law Review Article: Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review v. 33 no1 (Winter '98) p. 197-236.

Author: Nussbaum, Martha Craven.
Title: Frontiers of justice: disability, nationality, species membership. The Tanner lectures on human values.
General Collection: HM671.N87 2007

Author: Sacco, Christopher M.
Title: Civil rights: narrowing the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Law Review Article: Florida Law Review v. 52 no4 (Sept. 2000) p. 839-47.

Author: Sheen, Donna M.
Title: Civil rights/education--accommodating disabilities: how far must schools go in providing related services of a medical nature for students with disabilities?.
Law Review Article: Land and Water Law Review v. 35 no2 (2000) p. 625-44.

Author: United States. Commission on Civil Rights.
Title: Accommodating the spectrum of individual abilities.
General Collection: KF4749.A72 1983

Author: United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Title: Civil rights issues of handicapped Americans : public policy implications: a consultation, sponsored by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.
General Collection: HV1553.C53

Author: United States Commission on Civil Rights.
Title: Civil rights issues facing the blind and visually impaired in Illinois / Illinois Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

Electronic Access:

Author: United States. Congress.
Title: Compilation of selected civil rights laws (as amended through the 105th Congress, first session) : Civil Rights Commission Act of 1983 ... Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, section 722 of the revised statutes of the United States / prepared for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary, House of Representatives.
Government Document Stacks: Y 4.J 89/1:C 49/13

Author: United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
Title: The Americans with Disabilities Act : opening doors to the workplace : hearing of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, United States Senate, One Hundred Sixth Congress, second session ... July 26, 2000.
Government Document Stacks:Y 4.L 11/4:S.HRG.106-692

Author: United States. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
Title: New EEOC investigator training : participant manual.
Government Document Stacks:Y 3.EQ 2:8 P 25

Author: Verotsky, Stephen.
Title: Civil rights--Individuals with Disabilities Education Act--right to a free appropriate public education and the limits of the medical services exclusion.
Law Review Article: Tennessee Law Review v. 67 no2 (Winter 2000) p. 493-516.

Author: Washington, Mary V.
Title: Employment law--duty to accommodate--an employer's duty to accommodate a handicapped employee under the Michigan Handicappers' Civil Rights Act does not include the duty to transfer that employee to different job or position.
Law Review Article: University of Detroit Mercy Law Review v. 76 no2 (Winter 1999) p.663-77.

Author: Weber, Mark C.
Title: Special education law : statutes and regulations. Newark, NJ : LexisNexis, c2005.
General Collection: KF4209.3 .W43 2005

Author: Weinstein, Joshua I.
Title: Tempered extension: granting (section) 1985(3) class status to mentally retarded individuals.
Law Review Article: Annual Survey of American Law v. 1998 no3 (1998) p. 389-434.

*This page was originally created by Bill Sleeman.

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