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GREAT PRINCE MICHAEL v. U.S.

March 28, 2003

GREAT PRINCE MICHAEL ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR A TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER AND DISMISSING THE COMPLAINT
I. INTRODUCTION

While our nation is currently at war in Iraq, the pro se plaintiffs bring this action to challenge the United States' and Great Britain's presence in the Persian Gulf, claiming that American and British troops are trespassing on the plaintiffs' property located in that region. In essence, the plaintiffs ask the court to enjoin the United States and Great Britain from facilitating the occupation of American and British citizens there. In response, the American defendants*fn1 oppose the plaintiffs' motion for interim injunctive relief. After consideration of the parties' submissions, the relevant law, and the record of this case, the court determines that the plaintiffs fail to satisfy the critical element of substantial likelihood of success on the merits of their claims because they lack standing and the case presents a non-justiciable political question. Accordingly, the court denies the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order and dismisses the case with prejudice.

II. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff "Great Prince Michael" (a.k.a. Michael Craig Clark) brings this action along with a group referred to as the "Inhabitants of the Land"*fn2 (collectively, "the plaintiffs") against the United States, President George W. Bush, "Americans currently in the land," Great Britain, and "British citizens currently in the land" (collectively, "the defendants"), seeking injunctive relief from American and British occupation of certain lands located in the Middle East. Compl. at 1-3; Pls.' Mot. for T.R.O. ("T.R.O. Mot."). Specifically, the plaintiffs allege that the defendants are trespassing over lands located west of the Euphrates River and Persian Gulf and east of the Mediterranean Sea and Nile River, thereby violating the plaintiffs' rights under the Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendments of the United States Constitution.*fn3 Compl. at 2. The plaintiffs allege that these lands are entrusted to the care of plaintiff Great Prince Michael, who claims to be the sole representative of the descendants of Abraham and who allegedly has the responsibility to enforce the biblical covenant given to Abraham to protect the lands in question. Id. Ex. A.

On March 17, 2003, the plaintiffs filed their complaint with this court accompanied by a motion for a temporary restraining order. This member of the court received the case on March 20, 2003. The next day, the American defendants filed an opposition to the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order. On March 26, 2003, the plaintiffs filed their reply to the defendants' opposition. Thus, the matter being fully briefed, the court now turns to the plaintiffs' motion for a temporary restraining order.

III. ANALYSIS

A. Legal Standard for Interim Injunctive Relief

This court may issue interim injunctive relief only when the movant demonstrates:

(1) a substantial likelihood of success on the merits, (2) that it would suffer irreparable injury if the injunction is not granted, (3) that an injunction would not substantially injure other interested parties, and (4) that the public interest would be furthered by the injunction.
Mova Pharm. Corp. v. Shalala, 140 F.3d 1060, 1066 (D.C. Cir. 1998) (quoting City Fed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 746 (D.C. Cir. 1995)); see also World Duty Free Americas, Inc. v. Summers, 94 F. Supp.2d 61, 64 (D.D.C. 2000). It is particularly important for the movant to demonstrate a substantial likelihood of success on the merits. Cf. Benten v. Kessler, 505 U.S. 1084, 1085 (1992) (per curiam). Indeed, absent a "substantial indication" of likely success on the merits, "there would be no justification for the court's intrusion into the ordinary processes of administration and judicial review." Am. Bankers Ass'n v. Nat'l Credit Union Admin., 38 F. Supp.2d 114, 140 (D.D.C. 1999) (internal quotation omitted).

Because interim injunctive relief is an extraordinary form of judicial relief, courts should sparingly grant such relief. Mazurek v. Armstrong, 520 U.S. 968, 972 (1997). As the Supreme Court has said, interim injunctive relief "is an extraordinary and drastic remedy, one that should not be granted unless the movant, by a clear showing, carries the burden of persuasion." Id. (citation omitted). Therefore, although the trial court has the discretion to issue or deny a preliminary injunction, it is not a form of relief granted lightly. Ambach v. Bell, 686 F.2d 974, 979 (D.C. Cir. 1982).

B. The Court Denies the Plaintiffs' Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order Because the Plaintiff Has Not Demonstrated a Substantial Likelihood of Success on the Merits
To the extent that the plaintiffs' complaint and motion challenges the presence of United States and British armed forces in the Middle East as violations of the plaintiffs' Third, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights, the defendants argue that the plaintiffs lack standing to assert such claims and the court may not exercise judicial review over this matter because it presents non-justiciable political questions. Defs.' Opp'n to T.R.O. Mot. ("Defs.' Opp'n") at 3-4. The court addresses these arguments in turn.

1. The Plaintiffs Fail to Establish Standing

Article III of the Constitution limits the jurisdiction of federal courts to "cases" or "controversies." U.S. CONST. ART. III, § 2, cl. 1. These prerequisites reflect the "common understanding of what it takes to make a justiciable case." Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 102 (1998). Consequently, in order for this court to have jurisdiction over a case, each plaintiff must have standing to bring his claim. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555 (1992). To establish standing, an individual must satisfy a three-prong test. Id. First, the individual must have suffered some injury in fact, defined as an invasion of a legally protected interest that is concrete and particularized and actual or imminent. Id. at 560. Second, the injury must be fairly traceable to the governmental conduct alleged. Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 504 (1975); Nat'l Maritime Union v. Commander, Military Sealift Command, 824 F.2d 1228 (D.C. Cir. 1987). A plaintiff will not have standing, however, if this court must accept a speculative inference or assumption to link the alleged injury to the challenged action. Id.; Andrx Pharms., Inc. v. Bovail Corp. Int'l, 256 F.3d 799, 815 (D.C. Cir. ...


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