Dombrowski v. Eastland Historic Case

At a Glance

Date Filed: 


Case Description 

Dombrowski v. Eastland is a government misconduct case in which Dr. James Dombrowski filed suit against the chairperson of the Internal Security Subcommittee of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and the subcommittee's chief counsel, claiming that they violated his Fourth Amendment rights by participating in a conspiracy with Louisiana officials to seize his property and records.

Dr. Dombrowski was the director of the Southern Conference Educational Fund and one of the few white southern leaders of the civil rights movement. He was arrested and charged because of his “subversive” actions which violated Louisiana statutes. His offices were raided and the police confiscated all documents and items.

Louisiana courts held that the arrests and searches were illegal based on the fact that the warrants secured by the police had not been supported by a showing of probable cause. The courts also ruled that there was no evidence of the Senate subcommittee chairperson’s "involvement in any activity that could result in liability," so the complaint against him was dismissed.