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Case Name Does v. Trump PB-WI-0004
Docket / Court 2:20-cv-00704 ( E.D. Wis. )
State/Territory Wisconsin
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Case Summary
COVID-19 Summary: This is a putative class-action complaint filed on May 8 challenging the requirement for a social insurance number to qualify for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) stimulus checks. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a ... read more >
COVID-19 Summary: This is a putative class-action complaint filed on May 8 challenging the requirement for a social insurance number to qualify for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) stimulus checks. The plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief, as well as a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) enjoining the SSN requirement and requiring the defendants to hold in escrow funds for the issuance funds to the proposed class. On June 30, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, to stay the case given that similar complaints already were filed in several U.S. District Courts. The case is stayed pending the final decisions in related cases.


On May 8, two U.S. citizens married to spouses without SSNs filed a suit against various government defendants to challenge the Exclusion Provision of the CARES Act. The plaintiffs alleged that 26 U.S.C. § 6428 (the Exclusion Provision), as enacted by Section 2101 of the CARES Act, violated due process, equal protection, and the penumbra of privacy rights under the First, Third, Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments. The plaintiffs filed this action at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin as a declaratory and injunctive action under 28 U.S.C. §§ 2201-02 and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. They sought declaratory relief stating that the Exclusion Provision violated due process and equal protection of the Fifth and First Amendments. The plaintiffs also filed for injunctive relief and a TRO prohibiting the enforcement of the Exclusion Provision and requiring the defendants to hold in escrow sufficient funds for the issuance of stimulus checks to members of the proposed class. Included in the proposed class were all U.S. citizens similarly situated who would otherwise qualify for the stimulus check. The plaintiffs also sought attorney fees and demanded a jury trial. The plaintiffs were represented by private attorneys, and the case was assigned to Judge J P Stadtmueller.

On March 27, President Trump announced the CARES Act, authorizing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to distribute up to $1200.00 to each eligible individual earning under $75,000. To qualify for the stimulus check, Section 2101 required an eligible individual’s spouse to provide a “valid identification number” on their most recent tax return filed with IRS, but only SSNs were accepted.

The plaintiffs argued that, as SSNs were only issued to citizens or immigrants with work authorization, Section 2101 was discriminatory on the basis of their fundamental right to marriage. In effect, the provision excluded otherwise qualifying individuals married to immigrants who used an Individual Tax Identification Number (ITIN) instead of SSNs to pay their taxes. Both plaintiffs did not receive stimulus checks because their spouses lacked an SSN.

On June 30, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative, to stay the case given that similar complaints already were filed in several other U.S. District Courts. The plaintiffs filed a joint stipulation to stay the case, which was adopted by the judge on September 28.

The case will remain stayed until 7 days after a final decision has been rendered in one of the related cases, Does v. Trump (PB-WI-0005), Doe v. Trump (PB-IL-0014), and Doe v. Trump (PB-CA-0055).

On August 10, 2020 in PB-WI-005, the District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin dismissed the case on the grounds that one or more of the related cases may be dispositive.

On September 2, 2020 in PB-CA-0055, the District Court for the Central District of California granted the defendants' motion to dismiss, holding that the need for speed and administrative efficiency in distributing the checks was a valid rational basis for the Exclusion Provision. 2020 WL 5492994. The plaintiffs appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on September 30 and the appeal was voluntarily dismissed on January 21, 2021.

On January 19, 2021 in PB-IL-0014, the District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the plaintiffs' motion to dismiss for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The plaintiffs stated that, in December 2020, President Trump passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, which contained a provision that amended the CARES Act to allow stimulus checks for a spouse or otherwise qualifying child as long as the valid identification number of at least one spouse was included on the tax return. Thus, the new act retroactively repealed and replaced the Exclusion Provision with one that provided substantially the same relief as sought by the plaintiffs.

As of March 11, 2021, this case is still stayed.

Averyn Lee - 07/12/2020
Zofia Peach - 03/11/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Due Process: Substantive Due Process
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Family discrimination
Immigration status
General
Disparate Treatment
Marriage
Public assistance grants
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of the Treasury
Acting Secretary of the U.S. Department of Treasury
President of the United States
Senator and Sponsor of the CARES Act
U.S. Commissioner of Internal Revenue
U.S. Department of the Treasury
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Internal Revenue Service
United States of America
Plaintiff Description All United States Citizens married to immigrants that file joint taxes wherein the immigrant-spouses file tax returns using an Individual Taxpayer Identification Number who would have otherwise qualified for the Stimulus Check.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 05/08/2020
Case Ongoing Yes
Case Listing PB-WI-0005 : Does v. Trump (W.D. Wis.)
PB-IL-0014 : Doe v. Trump (N.D. Ill.)
PB-CA-0055 : Doe v. Trump (C.D. Cal.)
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Court Docket(s)
E.D. Wis.
09/28/2020
2:20-cv-00704-JPS
PB-WI-0004-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
E.D. Wis.
05/08/2020
Class Action Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-WI-0004-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wis.
06/30/2020
The United States' Motion to Dismiss or in the Alternative to Stay This Action [ECF# 5, 6]
PB-WI-0004-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
E.D. Wis.
08/07/2020
Joint Stipulation to Stay this Action [ECF# 9]
PB-WI-0004-0003.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Stadtmueller, Joseph Peter (E.D. Wis.) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abuzir, Omar A (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Blaise, Heather Lea (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Gavin, Elisabeth Anne (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Khalaf, Vivian R (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Nassar, Lana B (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Nitschke, Thomas John (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0001 | PB-WI-0004-0003 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Hurley, Charles P (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0002 | PB-WI-0004-0003 | PB-WI-0004-9000
Robins, Samuel Peter (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0002
Zuckerman, Richard E (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PB-WI-0004-0002

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