United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division
ORDER DENYING DEFENDANT'S REQUEST TO STAY
PROCEEDINGS PENDING RESOLUTION OF WH1TFORD AND
HONORABLE ERIC L. CLAY, United States Circuit Judge,
the Court is Defendant's Motion to Stay and to Dismiss
for Lack of Standing. [Dkt. No. 1 L] This Order addresses
only Defendant's request for a stay; Defendant's
arguments for dismissal will be addressed in a separate
order. For the reasons set forth below, Defendant's
request for a stay is DENIED.
requests a stay of proceedings "until the Supreme Court
resolves Whitford and Benisek." [Dkt.
No. 11 at PageID #75.] The Supreme Court heard argument in
GUI v. Whitford, Docket No. 16-1161, on October 3,
2017, and it will hear argument in Benisek v.
Lamone, Docket No. 17-333, on March 28, 2018. Decisions
in these cases are expected before the end of June 2018, when
the Supreme Court completes its current term. Both cases
involve the topic of partisan gerrymandering, which is also
at issue in the instant case.
Court may stay proceedings in accordance with its inherent
power to control the cases on its docket. See Landis v.
N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936). However, a
"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 Envd. Council v. U.S. Dist. Court, Southern Dist. of
Ohio, Eastern Div., 565 F.2d 393, 396 (6th Cir. 1977).
"[T]he suppliant for a stay must make out a clear case
of hardship or inequity in being required to go forward, if
there is even a fair possibility that the stay for which he
prays will work damage to some one else."
Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. The Court will rarely grant
a stay where, as here, a litigant is asked "to stand
aside while a litigant in another settles the rule of
decline to issue a stay pending the resolution of
Whitford and Benisek. Defendant does not
argue that she will experience hardship or inequity if she is
required to move forward in this case before
Whitford and Benisek are resolved. To the
contrary. Defendant argues that she need not make a showing
of hardship or inequity because there is not a fair
possibility that a stay would prejudice Plaintiffs or the
public interest. [Dkt. No. 20 at PageID #185-86.]
Defendant's request for a stay is premised entirely on
"judicial economy and the avoidance of discovery burdens
on the parties." (Id. at 186.]
argument fails because there exists a fair possibility that a
stay would prejudice Plaintiffs as well as the public
interest. The parties are operating under the reasonable
assumption that, if Plaintiffs succeed on the merits, "a
2020 remedial plan must be in place by no later than March of
2020 to be effective for the November 2020 election."
[Dkt. No. 22 at PageID #279.] Voting rights litigation is
notoriously protracted. See, e.g., McCain v.
Lyhrand, 465 U.S. 236, 243 (1984) (discussing litigation
delays as an impetus for Voting Rights Act of 1965). Indeed,
Congress took extraordinary measures-providing for this Court
to sit as a three- judge panel and for any appeal to be taken
directly to the Supreme Court-precisely so that voting rights
cases could be decided more quickly. See Swift & Co.
v. Wickham, 382 U.S. 111, 124 (1965) ("The purpose
of the three-judge scheme was in major part to expedite
important litigation.")- Based on this history of voting
rights litigation, there is a risk that this case will not be
resolved by March 2020 even in the absence of a stay.
Defendant's argument incorrectly minimizes the possible
duration of this case as well as the prejudice to Plaintiffs
and the public interest that would arise if this case were to
persist through three election cycles.
light of this potential prejudice, Defendant "must make
out a clear case of hardship or inequity" in order to
obtain a stay. Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. Defendant
fails to do so, merely invoking concerns about the usual
burdens of litigation and of judicial economy. Discovery can
be conducted, as it often is, in the absence of controlling
Supreme Court precedent. Further, a three-judge panel is
well-equipped to resolve any issues that might arise if, as
Defendant suggests, the Supreme Court elects to provide
additional guidance in the realm of partisan gerrymandering
while the parties to the instant case are in the midst of
ORDERED that Defendant's request for a stay is DENIED.
Defendant's arguments in favor of dismissal will be
addressed in a separate order.
HONORABLE DENISE PAGE HOOD United States District Judge,
HONORABLE GORDON J. ...