Filed Date: May 2, 2017
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On May 2, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). According to the complaint, plaintiff is an organization seeking to "protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving Americans of a free, fair, and fully-informed opportunity to exercise ultimate sovereignty." As part of its activities, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, including by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website.
Plaintiff sought disclosure of agency records by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that will shed light on the degree to which (if at all) any federal agencies were consulted prior and subsequent to the implementation of President Trump's Jan. 27 Executive Order 13769, which restricted travel to the U.S. by nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries.
The complaint alleged that on Feb. 15, 2017, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to OMB seeking copies of records that memorialized the following:
1. Whether any federal agency personnel reviewed the EO before it was issued, including whether DOJ reviewed it for lawfulness or deemed it lawful or unlawful;
2. Whether the EO was transmitted to any federal agency for review, comment, or awareness, including but not limited to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or DOJ;
3. Whether there was a decision to seek or not seek input from federal agency personnel on the creation or implementation of the EO, including but not limited to DHS or DOJ;
4. Whether there was any process for obtaining agency input regarding the EO.
The complaint further alleged that, to date, plaintiff had not received a substantive response from OMB. Plaintiff sought a disclosure order under FOIA and sought legal fees.
The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta.
That same day, plaintiff filed another, similar, FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice, described here. On June 9, OMB filed an unopposed motion to consolidate the two cases; Judge Mehta granted the motion on June 12. The cases have now been consolidated and continue on this page.
OMB and DOJ both answered plaintiff's complaint on June 21. The parties filed a joint status report on July 10. Judge Mehta set the next status report to be due on Aug. 8, and every month subsequent until a further Court order.
On Aug. 8, the parties filed the next joint status report. OMB anticipated releasing the requested records in September, and DOJ would provide a progress update in a subsequent status report.
In the subsequent status report, on Sept. 12, OMB anticipated completing its records search by Sept. 22. DOJ reported that it had located and released only one responsive record so far, and would release more documents on a rolling schedule beginning in October.
This case was reassigned to Judge Timothy J. Kelly on Sept. 19.
In the parties' Oct. 10 joint status report, DOJ reported that it had found approximately 5,500 records responsive either to plaintiff's FOIA request or to the FOIA requests submitted by others seeking records related to the same general subject matter. DOJ anticipated beginning rolling releases of this material within the month of October.
In the next status report of Nov. 14, OMB reported that it had completed its processing. DOJ reported that it had produced some documents in October and would continue to do so on a rolling basis.
In the Dec. 12, 2017 status report, DOJ added that it had produced more documents in November and would continue to produce documents approximately monthly. All subsequent status reports have stated the same.
Monthly status reports continued for the next 1.5 years except the month of January and February of 2019, for which an unopposed motion to stay due to the lapse of appropriations was granted. In the latest status report on April 9, 2019, the defendant indicated that they have continued to make monthly productions. The documents released by the government are available through this case page, below.
On May 7, 2019 the parties filed a joint stipulation of voluntary dismissal with prejudice, with each party bearings its own attorneys’ fees and costs.
Ava Morgenstern (4/21/2018)
Virginia Weeks (9/26/2018)
Averyn Lee (6/6/2020)
For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/6085674/parties/protect-democracy-project-inc-v-office-of-management-and-budget/
Kelly, Timothy James (District of Columbia)
Florence, Justin (District of Columbia)
Andrapalliyal, Vinita (District of Columbia)
Berns, Matthew (District of Columbia)
Hunt, Joseph H. (District of Columbia)
Kelly, Timothy James (District of Columbia)
Mehta, Amit Priyavadan (District of Columbia)
Last updated July 11, 2023, 11:55 p.m.
State / Territory: District of Columbia
Filing Date: May 2, 2017
Case Ongoing: No reason to think so
Plaintiff is an organization seeking to "protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving Americans of a free, fair, and fully-informed opportunity to exercise ultimate sovereignty." As part of its activities, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, including by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website.
Public Interest Lawyer: Yes
Filed Pro Se: No
Class Action Sought: No
Class Action Outcome: Not sought
Causes of Action:
Prevailing Party: Unknown
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