United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
Thomas M. Cooley Law School, Plaintiff,
The American Bar Association, Defendant.
R. Grand U.S. Magistrate Judge
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR TEMPORARY
RESTRAINING ORDER AND PRELIMINARY INJUNCTION
J. TARNOW SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
November 14, 2017, Plaintiff Thomas M. Cooley Law School
(“Cooley”) filed a Complaint  and a Motion for
Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”) and
Preliminary Injunction. The Court held a Status Conference on
November 15, 2017. Defendant American Bar Association
(“ABA”) filed a Response  on November 17,
2017. Plaintiff filed a Reply  on November 19, 2017.
Defendant filed a Surreply  on November 27, 2017. The
Court held a final pre-hearing conference November 30, 2017.
reasons stated below, Plaintiff's Motion for TRO  is
case concerns a law school's attempt to prevent current
and prospective students from having access to accurate
information about its accreditation status.
Cooley is a law school based in Lansing, Michigan. Defendant
ABA is the agency approved by the U.S. Department of
Education to accredit programs leading to the J.D. degree.
year, the ABA Council establishes Standards and Rules of
Procedure for Approval of Law Schools (“ABA
Standards”). The ABA Standards set forth the criteria
law schools must meet in order to obtain and retain
Council delegates authority to the ABA Accreditation
Committee to perform “interim monitoring” to
evaluate whether law schools remain in compliance with ABA
last reapproved Cooley in 2014. On May 19, 2016, the ABA sent
a letter to Cooley asking the School to provide the ABA with
“additional information so that the Committee can
determine if the Law School continues to operate in
compliance with [six] Standards[.]” Letter from Barry
A. Currier, Managing Dir., Am. Bar Ass'n, to Dean Don
LeDuc, President and Dean, Cooley Law Sch., Re: Interim
Monitoring of Law Schools (May 19, 2016). In response to the
request, Cooley submitted additional information to
Committee met on September 14-15, 2017 to review Cooley's
compliance with the Standards. Following the meeting, the
Committee sent Cooley a Letter and Accreditation Decision
(“Decision”) on October 4, 2017. The Decision set
forth the Committee's findings of fact and conclusions.
The Committee concluded that Cooley remained in compliance
with Standards 202(a), 301(a), 309(b), and 501(a); however,
it determined that Cooley was not in compliance with Standard
501(b) and Interpretation 501-1. In its Decision, the
Committee requested that Cooley submit a report by February
1, 2018 with all relevant information necessary to
demonstrate compliance with Standard 501(b).
501(b) requires that law schools “only admit applicants
who appear capable of satisfactorily completing its program
of legal education and being admitted to the bar.”
Interpretation 501-1 sets forth factors to be considered in
assessing compliance with 501(b).
appealed the Committee's Decision to the Council. The
Council held a hearing on November 4, 2017. On November 13,
2017, the Council sent a Letter to Cooley affirming the
Committee's Decision and notifying Cooley that the Letter
would be posted in accordance with Department of Education
Regulation 34 C.F.R. § 602.26 within 24 hours.
its receipt of the November 13, 2017 Letter, Cooley emailed
the Council requesting that the ABA refrain from publication
and expressing its intent to appeal the Decision. The ABA
Standards and Rules do not authorize an Appeals Panel to
review the Council's finding of non-compliance with
Standard 501(b). See infra pp. 6, Rule 4.
November 14, 2017, the Letter was posted on the ABA website
in the Adverse Actions section. The publication of the November
13, 2017 Letter is the subject of this action. Over the past
few weeks, the Letter and information ...