Case: Blumenthal v. Whitaker

1:18-cv-02664 | U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

Filed Date: Nov. 19, 2018

Closed Date: Feb. 19, 2019

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

On November 19, 2018, three U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued President Donald Trump and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The senators alleged that the defendants violated the Appointments Clause (Articles II, §2) of the U.S. Constitution and the Department of Justice Succession Statute, 28 U…

On November 19, 2018, three U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued President Donald Trump and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The senators alleged that the defendants violated the Appointments Clause (Articles II, §2) of the U.S. Constitution and the Department of Justice Succession Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 508(a). The plaintiffs were represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center and the Protect Democracy Project. The case was assigned to Judge Trevor McFadden, but randomly reassigned to Judge Randolph Moss shortly after the complaint was filed.

Specifically, the Senators alleged that by designating Matthew Whitaker to succeed Jeff Sessions as the Acting Attorney General, the plaintiffs were denied their right as Senators to vote on whether to consent to his appointment. The plaintiffs claimed that unlawfully denying legislators their right to cast an effective vote robs them of one of their core powers and responsibilities. The plaintiffs pointed to the Appointments Clause, which requires that provides principal federal officers be appointed only with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The plaintiffs further alleged that President Trump's action also violated the the DOJ Succession Statute. This statute provides that if the Attorney General's office is vacant, the Deputy Attorney General "may exercise all the duties of that office." The Deputy Attorney General had been available to exercise the functions and duties of the Office of Attorney General, and therefore, he should have been appointed as the Attorney General with the Senate's approval.

The case was briefly stayed at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 due to a lapse in federal appropriations. The government sought and received leave to delay in filing a response to the complaint.

Before the defendants could file a response, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case on February 19, 2019. Though no reasoning was given in the notice of dismissal, it likely was due to the nomination of William Barr to be United States Attorney General; he was confirmed by the typical appointment process and sworn into the position on February 14, and Whitaker left the Justice Department to go to the private sector. The case is now closed.

Summary Authors

Lisa Koo (2/18/2019)

Ellen Aldin (6/23/2020)

People

For PACER's information on parties and their attorneys, see: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/8207918/parties/blumenthal-v-whitaker/


Judge(s)

Moss, Randolph Daniel (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berwick, Benjamin Leon (Massachusetts)

Frazelle, Brian Rene (District of Columbia)

Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia)

Tindall , Anne Harden (District of Columbia)

Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)

Judge(s)

Moss, Randolph Daniel (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Berwick, Benjamin Leon (Massachusetts)

Frazelle, Brian Rene (District of Columbia)

Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia)

Tindall , Anne Harden (District of Columbia)

Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Lin, Jean (District of Columbia)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

Docket [PACER]

Feb. 19, 2019 Docket
1

Complaint

Nov. 19, 2018 Complaint

Resources

Title Description External URL

Blumenthal v. Whitaker

Protect Democracy

On November 19, 2018, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie K. Hirono (D-HI) filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia challeng… Feb. 19, 2019 https://protectdemocracy.org/...

Docket

See docket on RECAP: https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/8207918/blumenthal-v-whitaker/

Last updated May 11, 2022, 8 p.m.

ECF Number Description Date Link
1

COMPLAINT against All Defendants ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-5798200) filed by RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, MAZIE K. HIRONO, SHELDON WHITEHOUSE. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons)(Gorod, Brianne) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

1 Civil Cover Sheet

View on PACER

2 Summons

View on PACER

3 Summons

View on PACER

4 Summons

View on PACER

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
2

NOTICE of Appearance by Brianne Jenna Gorod on behalf of All Plaintiffs (Gorod, Brianne) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
3

NOTICE of Appearance by Brian Rene Frazelle on behalf of All Plaintiffs (Frazelle, Brian) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
4

NOTICE of Appearance by Benjamin Leon Berwick on behalf of All Plaintiffs (Berwick, Benjamin) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
5

NOTICE of Appearance by Elizabeth Bonnie Wydra on behalf of All Plaintiffs (Wydra, Elizabeth) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP

Case Assigned to Judge Trevor N. McFadden. (zef, )

Nov. 19, 2018 PACER
6

NOTICE of Appearance by Anne Harden Tindall on behalf of RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, MAZIE K. HIRONO, SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (Tindall, Anne) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
7

STANDING ORDER Establishing Procedures for Cases Before Judge Trevor N. McFadden. The parties are hereby ORDERED to read and comply with the directives in the attached standing order. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 11/19/2018. (lctnm2) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
8

SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to All Defendants, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Notice and Consent)(zef, ) (Entered: 11/19/2018)

Nov. 19, 2018 RECAP
9

Case randomly reassigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss. Judge Trevor N. McFadden is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 11/30/2018)

Nov. 29, 2018 RECAP
10

STANDING ORDER: The parties are hereby ORDERED to comply with the directives set forth in the attached Standing Order. See document for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 11/30/2018. (lcrdm2, ) (Entered: 11/30/2018)

Nov. 30, 2018 RECAP
11

RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed. DONALD J. TRUMP served on 11/29/2018; MATTHEW G. WHITAKER served on 11/29/2018, RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 11/29/2018., RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 11/29/2018. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 1/28/2019.) (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit)(Frazelle, Brian) (Entered: 12/06/2018)

Dec. 6, 2018 RECAP
12

LEAVE TO FILE DENIED- Movant David Andrew Christenson's Amicus submission This document is unavailable as the Court denied its filing.. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 12/11/18. (ztd) (Entered: 12/14/2018)

Dec. 11, 2018 PACER
13

MOTION to Stay Proceedings in Light of Lapse of Appropriations by DONALD TRUMP, MATTHEW G. WHITAKER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lin, Jean) (Entered: 01/11/2019)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Jan. 11, 2019 RECAP
14

Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION to Stay Proceedings in Light of Lapse of Appropriations filed by RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, MAZIE K. HIRONO, SHELDON WHITEHOUSE. (Gorod, Brianne) (Entered: 01/11/2019)

Jan. 11, 2019 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the government shall file a response to Plaintiff's opposition to the motion to stay, Dkt. 14, on or before January 18, 2019. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 1/11/2019. (lcrdm2, )

Jan. 11, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Government's response to Plaintiff's opposition to the motion to stay, Dkt. 14, due on or before 1/18/2019. (kt)

Jan. 11, 2019 PACER
15

REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION to Stay Proceedings in Light of Lapse of Appropriations or in the Alternative, Requeset for an Extension of Time to Respond to Complaint filed by DONALD J. TRUMP, MATTHEW G. WHITAKER. (Lin, Jean) (Entered: 01/18/2019)

Jan. 18, 2019 RECAP

NOTICE OF ERROR re 15 Reply to opposition to Motion; emailed to jean.lin@usdoj.gov, cc'd 12 associated attorneys -- The PDF file you docketed contained errors: 1. Two-part docket entry, 2. Please refile document, 3. using the "Motions" category for extension of time (jf)

Jan. 25, 2019 PACER
16

MOTION for Extension of Time to Respond to Complaint (same filing as Defs.' Reply in Support of Stay, ECF No. 15, Jan. 18, 2019; refiling per Clerk's instruction) by DONALD J. TRUMP, MATTHEW G. WHITAKER (Lin, Jean) (Entered: 01/25/2019)

Jan. 25, 2019 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Defendants' motion to stay, Dkt. 13, and motion for an extension of time to file, Dkt. 16, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion for a stay is DENIED and that the motion for an extension is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part. Defendants shall answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint on or before February 14, 2019. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 1/25/2019. (lcrdm2, )

Jan. 25, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendants shall answer or otherwise respond to Plaintiffs' complaint on or before 2/14/2019. (kt)

Jan. 28, 2019 PACER
17

LEAVE TO FILE DENIED- David Andrew Christenson's Motion to Join This document is unavailable as the Court denied its filing.. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on David Andrew Christenson's Motion to Join. (ztd) (Entered: 02/05/2019)

Jan. 30, 2019 PACER

MINUTE ORDER: On December 11, 2018, this Court denied leave to file movant's proposed amicus brief and motion for leave to file. See Dkt. 12. The Court has now received a "motion to join," containing additional documents, and a request to "reconsider [the Court's] order denying [the] Amicus Brief." As reflected in Dkt. 17, the Court will DENY leave to file the additional documents and will DENY the request for reconsideration of its previous denial of leave to file. By the movant's own account, his proposed filing is not directed at advancing the resolution of the case currently before the Court; instead movant wishes to publicize "information contained in the Amicus Brief" because "[t]here is no place in the world for the American People to have access to [the] information" he seeks to disseminate. The Court's docket is not an appropriate forum for this type of mass communication but, rather, serves as a record of the official proceedings relating specifically to -- and intended to advance the resolution of -- this matter. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 2/5/2019. (lcrdm2, )

Feb. 5, 2019 PACER
18

Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint, in Light of Intervening Event by DONALD J. TRUMP, MATTHEW G. WHITAKER (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Lin, Jean) (Entered: 02/14/2019)

1 Text of Proposed Order

View on PACER

Feb. 14, 2019 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of Defendants' Consent Motion for Extension of Time, Dkt. 18, it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. Defendants shall answer or otherwise respond to the complaint on or before February 20, 2019. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 2/14/2019. (lcrdm2, )

Feb. 14, 2019 PACER

Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendants shall answer or otherwise respond to the complaint on or 2/20/2019. (kt)

Feb. 15, 2019 PACER
19

NOTICE of Voluntary Dismissal by All Plaintiffs (Gorod, Brianne) (Entered: 02/19/2019)

Feb. 19, 2019 RECAP

MINUTE ORDER: In light of Plaintiff's notice of voluntary dismissal, this action is DISMISSED. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 41(a). The Clerk is directed to terminate this case. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 2/19/2019. (lcrdm2, )

Feb. 19, 2019 PACER

State / Territory: District of Columbia

Case Type(s):

Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority

Key Dates

Filing Date: Nov. 19, 2018

Closing Date: Feb. 19, 2019

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

Three U.S. Senators who claim that they were denied the right to vote guaranteed to them by the Appointments Clause. (Right to vote on President Trump's designation of the Defendant Whitaker to serve as an Officer of the United States).

Plaintiff Type(s):

Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: No

Class Action Outcome: Not sought

Defendants

Matthew G. Whitaker (District of Columbia, District of Columbia), Federal

Donald J. Trump (District of Columbia, District of Columbia), Federal

Case Details

Availably Documents:

Trial Court Docket

Complaint (any)

Outcome

Prevailing Party: None Yet / None

Nature of Relief:

None

Source of Relief:

None