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Arab American Civil Rights League v. Trump

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

June 9, 2017

DONALD TRUMP, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable Victoria A. Roberts United States District Judge.


         This case is one of many challenging the constitutionality of President Trump's Executive Order No. 13780, titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States, ” 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 6, 2017) (the “Executive Order”).

         On May 25, 2017, in a case presenting a similar challenge to the Executive Order, the Fourth Circuit upheld a Maryland District Court's nationwide preliminary injunction prohibiting enforcement of § 2(c) of the Executive Order - which temporarily suspended entry into the United States of nationals from six predominately Muslim countries. See Int'l Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump, 17-1351, __F.3d__, 2017 WL 2273306 (4th Cir. May 25, 2017), as amended (May 31, 2017) (“IRAP”). On June 1, 2017, the government filed a petition for certiorari in IRAP, and the Supreme Court ordered an expedited response due June 12, 2017.

         Defendants move for a stay of these proceedings pending the Supreme Court's consideration of the decision in IRAP. [Doc. 105]. Plaintiffs oppose the stay.

         The Court GRANTS Defendants' motion for stay [Doc. 105].

         II. ANALYSIS

         The Court “has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an incident to its power to control its own docket, ” Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997), and in considering the “economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel and for litigants, ” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). This power applies “especially in cases of extraordinary public moment, ” where “a plaintiff may be required to submit to delay not immoderate in extent and not oppressive in its consequences if the public welfare or convenience will thereby be promoted.” Clinton, 520 U.S. at 707 (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). However, the Court “must tread carefully in granting a stay of proceedings, since a party has a right to a determination of its rights and liabilities without undue delay.” Ohio Envtl. Council v. U.S. Dist. Court, S. Dist. of Ohio, E. Div., 565 F.2d 393, 396 (6th Cir. 1977). “The proponent of a stay bears the burden of establishing its need.” Clinton, 520 U.S. at 708.

         In determining whether to stay proceedings pending “another case's imminent disposition, ” the Court considers four factors: “[1] the potential dispositive effect of the other case, [2] judicial economy achieved by awaiting adjudication of the other case, [3] the public welfare, and [4] the relative hardships to the parties created by withholding judgment.” Caspar v. Snyder, 77 F.Supp.3d 616, 644 (E.D. Mich. 2015). The parties do not address the “public welfare” factor, and neither does the Court. However, the remaining three factors weigh in favor of a stay pending the Supreme Court's review in IRAP.

         A. Potential Dispositive Effect of Supreme Court Review in IRAP; and Judicial Economy Achieved by Staying the Proceedings

         Although Plaintiffs are correct that the Supreme Court's review in IRAP will likely not be fully dispositive of this case, it is sufficient that those proceedings will likely “settle many” issues and “simplify them all, ” Landis, 299 U.S. at 256, such that a stay will “foster efficiency and conservation of resources for both the parties and the court.” Fairview Hosp. v. Leavitt, No. 05-1065, 2007 WL 1521233, at *3 (D.D.C. May 22, 2007) (granting a stay pending the resolution of another case that “would not foreclose the necessity of litigation in [the stayed] case, ” but would likely settle some issues and simplify others).

         Any decision by the Supreme Court will be particularly relevant to - and likely controlling of - this Court's disposition of a pending motion to dismiss and pending motion to compel. It would also provide guidance regarding the appropriate scope of discovery, and may help to resolve anticipated disputes related to Plaintiffs' outstanding discovery requests. Specifically, a decision should provide the legal standard for reviewing the Executive Order under the Establishment Clause, and should answer whether Kleindienst v. Mandel, 408 U.S. 753 (1972), limits review to the four corners of the order. If the Supreme Court holds that Mandel limits review to the face of the Executive Order, most - if not all - of Plaintiffs' current discovery requests would become irrelevant. On the other hand, if the Supreme Court concludes that review is not limited to the four corners of the Executive Order, then Plaintiffs' discovery requests concerning pre-inauguration evidence (e.g., statements made by Candidate Trump, documents prepared related to the so-called Muslim ban, etc.) may be highly relevant. A Supreme Court decision in IRAP will guide, if not control, the Court's disposition of both pending and upcoming issues. Accordingly, a stay is warranted to conserve the resources of the parties and the Court.

         Plaintiffs argue that Defendants do not establish that there is a “significant possibility that the Supreme Court [will] reverse the judgment below, ” see United States v. Mandycz, 321 F.Supp.2d 862, 864 (E.D. Mich. 2004). However, this does not prevent the Court from entering a stay. In determining whether the Executive Order likely violated the Establishment Clause, the Fourth Circuit applied a standard set forth in Justice Kennedy's concurrence in Kerry v. Din, __U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 2128, 2140-41 (2015). See IRAP, 2017 WL 2273306, at *16-18. Although the Fourth Circuit's use of, and analysis under, that standard was well reasoned and sound, the legal standard is not well settled. The Supreme Court is likely to address the standard used by the Fourth Circuit and settle a question of law - i.e., the correct legal standard to use in reviewing the Executive Order under the Establishment Clause. Such guidance by the Supreme Court will simplify these proceedings. See Landis, 299 U.S. at 256.

         Defendants sufficiently demonstrate that the dispositive effect of the Supreme Court's review in IRAP and the judicial economy achieved by awaiting ...

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