Hays Fellows gain practical experience in civil rights and civil liberties litigation under the supervision of the Directors or other attorneys active in public interest advocacy. Directors and Fellows have participated in many leading cases in the United States Supreme Court.


A specialty of the Hays Program has been litigation relating to abortion rights. These efforts frequently have been undertaken cooperatively with the Reproductive Freedom Project of the ACLU or the Center for Reproductive Rights, and have been assisted in some cases by the Harriet Pilpel/Planned Parenthood Fellow. The Directors and Fellows have participated in virtually all the major litigation in this field, starting with United States v. Vuitch (1971), the first abortion case heard by the United States Supreme Court; Roe v. Wade (1973) and Akron Center for Reproductive Health v. City of Akron (1983), which recognized a protected right of privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment; through Harris v. McRae (1980), which approved the exclusion of abortion from the otherwise comprehensive Medicaid program. More recently, the Program has participated in Webster v. Reproductive Health Services (1989) and Planned Parenthood of Eastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), which cut back on the constitutional protections accorded women but reaffirmed the core of Roe v. Wade; and Stenberg v. Carhart (2002), holding that Nebraska cannot prohibit “partial birth” abortions under a law that provides no exception in cases where the health of the woman is endangered.

Over the years, the Fellows have also participated extensively in trials and appeals in scores of important but less renowned civil liberties cases. They have helped develop factual records and assisted in discovery and motion practice in litigation supporting the rights of prisoners, foster parents and foster children, nursing home patients, the physically disabled and military personnel. They have also litigated cases in many other fields, including academic freedom, employment discrimination, and immigration rights and international human rights.