Case: Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning

4:03-cv-03155 | U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska

Filed Date: April 30, 2003

Closed Date: 2007

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On April 30, 2003, LGBT advocacy organizations, represented by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, against the Attorney General of Nebraska challenging the federal constitutionality of Article I, Section 29 of the Nebraska Constitution. Section 29 prohibits government recognition of the "uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship." The plaintiffs sought to …

On April 30, 2003, LGBT advocacy organizations, represented by Lambda Legal and the ACLU, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, against the Attorney General of Nebraska challenging the federal constitutionality of Article I, Section 29 of the Nebraska Constitution. Section 29 prohibits government recognition of the "uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship." The plaintiffs sought to have Section 29 declared unlawful as a denial of equal protection and a bill of attainder.

On June 30, 2003, the Attorney General filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the plaintiffs lacked standing, the case was unripe, and the cause for action for bill of attainder should be dismissed. The District Court (Judge Joseph F. Bataillon) denied the motion on November 10, 2003. Citizens for Equal Protection, Inc., v. Bruning, 290 F.Supp.2d 1004.

On May 12, 2005, the Court ruled that Section 29 violated the Constitution of the United States. Citizens for Equal Protection, Inc., v. Bruning, 368 F.Supp.2d 980. The Court first found that Section 29 deprived same-sex couples of the right to associational freedom and the right to participate in the political process, both protected by the First Amendment, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finding no rational relationship between Section 29 and any legitimate state interest, the Court held that Section 29 violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Finally, the Court concluded that Section 29 amounts to punishment by legislation as it operates to prohibit persons in same-sex relationships from working to ever obtain governmental benefits or legal recognition, and thus was an unconstitutional bill of attainder. The Court permanently enjoined the enforcement of Section 29 and on August 1, 2005, granted the plaintiffs' motion for attorneys fees pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1988.

The Attorney General filed a notice of appeal on June 9, 2005. On July 14, 2006, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (Judge James B. Loken) reversed the District Court on all three of its conclusions, as well as the award of the plaintiffs' attorneys fees. Citizens for Equal Protection v. Bruning, 455 F.3d 859. The Court held that sexual orientation was not a suspect classification and thus Section 29 was not entitled to be subjected strict scrutiny. Under the alternative standard of rational basis review, the Court held Section 29 did not violate the Equal Protection Clause. The Court found the bill of attainder claim to be without merit, and found that Section 29 did not violate the First Amendment because it does not directly and substantially interfere with plaintiffs' ability to associate in pursuit of a common goal, and it seems unlikely it will prevent persons from continuing to associate.

The plaintiffs sought rehearing en banc; the Eighth Circuit denied that motion on August 30, 2006. The plaintiffs did not file a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court, and the case was dismissed with prejudice on January 4, 2007.

Summary Authors

Darren Miller (10/26/2012)

Claire Lally (2/22/2015)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attrorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5637361/parties/citizens-for-equal-protection-v-bruning/


Judge(s)

Bataillon, Joseph F. (Nebraska)

Thalken, Thomas D. (Nebraska)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bartle, Robert F. (Nebraska)

Buckel, David S. (New York)

Chase, Fred B (Texas)

Esseks, James Dixon (New York)

Lange, Tamara (California)

McGowan, Sharon M. (District of Columbia)

Miller, Amy A. (Nebraska)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Comer, Dale A. (Nebraska)

Judge(s)

Bataillon, Joseph F. (Nebraska)

Thalken, Thomas D. (Nebraska)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Bartle, Robert F. (Nebraska)

Buckel, David S. (New York)

Chase, Fred B (Texas)

Esseks, James Dixon (New York)

Lange, Tamara (California)

McGowan, Sharon M. (District of Columbia)

Miller, Amy A. (Nebraska)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Comer, Dale A. (Nebraska)

McNair, Matthew (Nebraska)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Loken, James B. (Minnesota)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

4:03-cv-03155

Docket

Jan. 4, 2007

Jan. 4, 2007

Docket
1

4:03-cv-03155

Complaint

April 30, 2003

April 30, 2003

Complaint
35

4:03-cv-03155

U.S. District Court Order Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss

290 F.Supp.2d 1004

Nov. 10, 2003

Nov. 10, 2003

Order/Opinion
71

4:03-cv-03155

U.S. District Court (D. Neb.) Opinion

368 F.Supp.2d 980

May 12, 2005

May 12, 2005

Order/Opinion

05-02604

Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit

455 F.3d 859

Aug. 30, 2006

Aug. 30, 2006

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/5637361/citizens-for-equal-protection-v-bruning/

Last updated July 22, 2022, 3:05 a.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link Date / Link
71

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER declaring Section 29 of Nebraska Constitution unconstitutional; attorney fees and costs awarded to plaintiffs. Signed by Judge Joseph F. Bataillon on 5/12/2005. (SMS, )

May 12, 2005

May 12, 2005

RECAP
81

ORDER granting 76 Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorney Fees in the amount of $156,960.00 and costs in the amount of $271.70. Signed by Judge Joseph F. Bataillon on 8/1/2005. (SMS, )

Aug. 1, 2005

Aug. 1, 2005

RECAP
84

ORDER - This matter is before the court on defendants' unopposed Motion for Stay of Proceedings to Enforce Judgment Pending Appeal, Filing No. 83 . For good cause shown, the motion is granted and the enforcement of this court's order awarding attorney fees and costs to plaintiffs, Filing No. 81 , is stayed pending resolution of the appeal of this matter to the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals. Signed by Judge Joseph F. Bataillon on 8/9/2005. (TJS)

Aug. 9, 2005

Aug. 9, 2005

RECAP

Case Details

State / Territory: Nebraska

Case Type(s):

Public Benefits/Government Services

Special Collection(s):

Same-Sex Marriage

Multi-LexSum (in sample)

Key Dates

Filing Date: April 30, 2003

Closing Date: 2007

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

LGBT advocacy organizations

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Attorney Organizations:

ACLU Affiliates (any)

Lambda Legal

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

State of Nebraska, State

Defendant Type(s):

Jurisdiction-wide

Case Details

Causes of Action:

42 U.S.C. § 1983

Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201

Constitutional Clause(s):

Due Process

Equal Protection

Freedom of speech/association

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Any published opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Defendant

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None

Issues

General:

Gay/lesbian/transgender

Marriage

Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)

Discrimination-basis:

Sexual orientatation

Affected Gender:

Female

Male