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International Refugee Assistance Project v. Trump

United States District Court, D. Maryland

April 24, 2018

INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants. IRANIAN ALLIANCES ACROSS BORDERS, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND COLLEGE PARK CHAPTER, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants. EBLALZAKZOK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          THEODORE D. CHUANG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendants ("the Government") have filed a Motion to Stay Proceedings Pending Resolution of Preliminary-Injunction Appeals ("Motion to Stay") seeking a stay of Case Nos. TDC-17-2921 and TDC-17-2969 pending the United States Supreme Court's resolution of Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965 (U.S. Jan. 19, 2018). Plaintiffs in those cases, Iranian Alliances Across Borders ("IAAB"), Doe Plaintiffs 1-6, and Iranian Students' Foundation (collectively, "the IAAB Plaintiffs") and Eblal Zakzok, Sumaya Hamadmad, Fahed Muqbil, and Doe Plaintiffs 1-3 (collectively, "the Zakzok Plaintiffs") oppose the Motion and have filed their own Motion for Entry of a Scheduling Order ("Motion for a Scheduling Order"). The Government has not moved to stay Case No. TDC-17-0361, and Plaintiffs in that case, International Refugee Assistance Project ("IRAP"), HIAS, Inc., Middle East Studies Association ("MESA"), Arab-American Association of New York ("AAANY"), Yemeni-American Merchants Association ("YAMA"), Doe Plaintiffs 1-5, Muhammed Meteab, Mohamad Mashta, Grannaz Amirjamshidi, Fakhri Ziaolhagh, Shapour Shirani, and Afsaneh Khazaeli (collectively, "the IRAP Plaintiffs") have not joined the Motion for a Scheduling Order. Having reviewed the briefs on the Motions, the Court finds that no hearing is necessary. See D. Md. Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Stay is GRANTED. The Court also stays consideration of Case No. TDC-17-0361 pending the Supreme Court's resolution of Trump v. Hawaii. The Motion for a Scheduling Order is DENIED WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

         BACKGROUND

         On September 24, 2017, President Donald J. Trump issued Proclamation No. 9645, "Enhancing Vetting Capabilities and Processes for Detecting Attempted Entry into the United States by Terrorists or Other Public-Safety Threats" (the "Proclamation"), 82 Fed. Reg. 45161 (Sept. 27, 2017). The Proclamation was the third iteration of the President's efforts to ban the entry of nationals from certain designated countries into the United States. See Exec. Order 13, 769, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" ("EO-1"), 82 Fed. Reg. 8977 (Jan. 27, 2017); Exec. Order 13, 780, "Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States" ("EO-2"), 82 Fed. Reg. 13209 (Mar. 9, 2017). The IRAP Plaintiffs, later joined by the IAAB and Zakzok Plaintiffs, moved for preliminary injunctive relief from the Proclamation. On October 17, 2017, the Court granted a preliminary injunction that barred the enforcement of most provisions in Section 2 of the Proclamation, except with respect to those individuals who lack a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States. Int'l Refugee Assistance Project ("IRAP") v. Trump, 265 F.Supp.3d 570, 633 (D. Md. 2017), aff'd 883 F.3d 233 (4th Cir. 2018).

         The Government requested that the Supreme Court stay enforcement of the preliminary injunction, as well as an injunction imposed by the United States District Court for the District of Hawaii in Hawaii v. Trump, 265 F.Supp.3d 1140, 1161 (D. Haw. 2017), aff'd in part, vacated in part, 878 F.3d 662 (9th Cir. 2017). Appl. for Stay, Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965 (U.S. Nov. 20, 2017). On December 4, 2017, the Supreme Court stayed the injunctions pending disposition of the cases by the United States Courts of Appeals for the Fourth and Ninth Circuits, as well as pending any review of the circuit court rulings by the Supreme Court. Trump v. IRAP, 138 S.Ct. 542 (2017); Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S.Ct. 542 (2017). On December 22, 2017, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the preliminary injunction entered by the District of Hawaii, but stayed its ruling in light of the Supreme Court's December 4, 2017 stay order. Hawaii v. Trump, 878 F.3d 662, 702 (9th Cir. 2017). The Supreme Court granted the Government's petition for a writ of certiorari in that case and will hear oral argument on April 25, 2018. Trump v. Hawaii, 138 S.Ct. 923 (2018). In Trump v. Hawaii, the Supreme Court will consider (1) whether the "challenge to the President's suspension of entry of aliens abroad is justiciable"; (2) "[w]hether the Proclamation is a lawful exercise of the President's authority to suspend entry of aliens abroad"; (3) "[w]hether the global injunction is impermissibly overbroad"; and (4) whether the Proclamation violates the Establishment Clause. Id; Pet. Writ Cert, at I, Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, 2018 WL 333818 (U.S. Jan. 5, 2018); Br. Opp'n at i, Trump v. Hawaii, No. 17-965, 2018 WL 417995 (U.S. Jan. 12, 2018).

         In the cases before this Court, the Government filed the Motion to Stay on January 19, 2018. The IAAB Plaintiffs and Zakzok Plaintiffs (collectively, "Plaintiffs") filed their Motion for a Scheduling Order on February 2, 2018. Although the IRAP Plaintiffs have not taken a position on either motion, they have requested that the Court allow them to participate in discovery if the Motion to Stay is denied and the Motion for a Scheduling Order is granted.

         On February 15, 2018, the Fourth Circuit affirmed this Court's grant of a preliminary injunction but also stayed its decision in light of the Supreme Court's stay. IRAP v. Trump, 883 F.3d 233, 274 (4th Cir. 2018). On March 9, 2018, the Government filed a petition for a writ of certiorari that is currently pending before the Supreme Court. Pet. Writ Cert., Trump v. IRAP, No. 17-1270, 2018 WL 1419884 (U.S. Mar. 9, 2018).

         DISCUSSION

         In its Motion to Stay, the Government seeks a stay on the grounds that (1) the Supreme Court's resolution of Trump v. Hawaii will likely provide dispositive guidance on some or all of the issues in this case; (2) other courts hearing challenges to the Proclamation and other versions of the travel ban have stayed district court proceedings pending a ruling from the Supreme Court; and (3) the Supreme Court might resolve the merits of Plaintiffs' claims, eliminating the need for further district court proceedings. The Government further argues that, at a minimum, this case should not proceed to discovery because (1) appellate decisions will likely provide important guidance regarding the scope of discovery; (2) Plaintiffs have not justified a need for immediate discovery; and (3) the requested stay is reasonable in length and will not prejudice Plaintiffs.

         Plaintiffs oppose the Motion to Stay, arguing that a stay would cause further injury in the form of prolonged separation from family members, some of whom are elderly, very ill, or at risk of persecution. They claim that the prospect of the Supreme Court deciding the merits of their claims is speculative, and, in any event, their free speech, equal protection, due process, free association, and Administrative Procedure Act ("APA") claims are not before the Supreme Court. Plaintiffs also argue that the Government has not shown that it will be significantly burdened without a stay. They instead request to move forward with discovery now, regardless of whether a motion to dismiss is filed, and assert that discovery can initially be limited to (1) obtaining two reports with attachments submitted by the Secretary of Homeland Security to the President, identified in Sections 1(c) and 1(h) of the Proclamation; (2) receiving materials related to procedures used by government officials to implement the waiver process described in Section 3(c) of the Proclamation; and (3) responding to Government requests relating to the extent of Plaintiffs' injuries. Plaintiffs acknowledge the prospect of contested discovery but argue that the specter of discovery disputes necessitates that the discovery process begin sooner rather than later, to account for any attendant delays.

         I. Legal Standard

         "[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants." Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). The exercise of this power is especially important "in cases of extraordinary public moment" where a party "may be required to submit to delay not immoderate in extent and not oppressive in its consequences if the public welfare or convenience will thereby be promoted." Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 707 (1997) (quoting Landis, 299 U.S. at 256)). Nevertheless, the burden of showing the necessity for a stay rests with the moving party, and is heightened when a stay will "work damage" to another party. Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. "The party seeking a stay must justify it by clear and convincing circumstances outweighing potential harm to the party against whom it is operative." Williford v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 715 F.2d 124, 127 (4th Cir. 1983).

         When considering a discretionary motion to stay, courts typically examine three factors: (1) the impact on the orderly course of justice, sometimes referred to as judicial economy, measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected from a stay; (2) the hardship to the moving party if the case is not stayed; and (3) the potential damage or prejudice to the non-moving party if a stay is granted. See Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1110 (9th Cir. 2005); see also, e.g., Mullins v. Suburban Hosp. Healthcare Sys., Inc., No. PX-16-1113, 2017 WL 3023282, at *1 (D. Md. July 17, 2017); Davis v. Biomet Orthopedics, LLC, No. 12-3738-JKB, 2013 WL 682906, at *1 (D. Md. Feb. 22, 2013); Washington v. Trump, No. 17-0141-JLR, 2017 WL 2172020, at *2 (W.D. Wash. May 17, 2017) (citing Lockyer); Meyers v. Bayer AG, 143 F.Supp.2d 1044, 1049 (E.D. Wise. 2001).

         II. ...


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