The opinion of the court was delivered by: Ricardo M. Urbina, United States District Judge.
GRANTING THE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO AMEND THE FIRST AMENDED COMPLAINT
This class action comes before the court on the plaintiffs' motion to amend their first amended complaint. The plaintiffs, current and former Navy chaplains, bring this suit alleging that the Navy's policies and practices favor one religious denomination over another in violation of the First Amendment's Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses, as well as the Fifth Amendment's Equal Protection Clause. Specifically, the plaintiffs charge that the hiring, retention and promotion policies of the Navy Chaplain Corps demonstrate an unconstitutional endorsement of liturgical Christian sects over non-liturgical Christian sects.*fn2 Citing new evidence, the plaintiffs now move to amend their complaint to allege that the Navy's discrimination against its non-liturgical Christian chaplains began in 1977 rather than in the mid-1980s as previously alleged. Because the amendment is not futile, unduly delayed, or unduly prejudicial to defendants, the court grants the plaintiffs' motion to amend.
A. Factual Background *fn3
In this case, the plaintiffs are current and former non-liturgical Christian chaplains in the Department of the Navy ("the Navy").*fn4 The defendants are the Secretary of the Navy, other Navy officials and the Navy. According to the plaintiffs, in the late 1960s and 1970s, America's religious demographics began a substantial shift away from liturgical Protestant denominations toward the non-liturgical Christian churches, which the plaintiffs represent. Am. Compl. at 29. Until the mid to late 1980s, the Navy used a rough proportional-representation plan to determine how many chaplains it would hire from various religious denominations. Id. at 29. Under this system, the Navy allegedly allocated chaplains among the various faith groups based on objective criteria, such as the relative percentage represented by a religion in the total American population. Id.
The plaintiffs allege that starting in the late 1980s and continuing to the present, however, the Navy switched to a subjective policy, referred to as the"thirds policy," under which the Navy allegedly reserves one-third of the Navy's slots in the Chaplain Corps for liturgical Christians, one-third for Catholics, and one-third for members of every other religion. Id. at 29-30.
Non-liturgical Christians are included in this last, catchall category. Id. at 30.
The plaintiffs filed their class-action complaint on March 17, 2000. Subsequently, on September 5, 2000, the plaintiffs amended their complaint as of right.*fn5 On September 22, 2000, the defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. On January 10, 2002, the court issued a comprehensive memorandum opinion granting in part and denying in part the defendants' motion to dismiss.*fn6 Adair v. England, 183 F. Supp. 2d. 31 (D.D.C. 2002). The court concluded, inter alia, that the statute of limitations did not bar the plaintiffs' claims for purposes of the motion to dismiss because the plaintiffs alleged that the defendants had fraudulently concealed the facts necessary to their causes of action. Id. at 54-55.
Subsequently, on February 7, 2002, the court held a status hearing at which it issued an order setting a schedule for further submissions, including the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Order dated Feb. 7, 2002. On March 26, 2002, pursuant to the court's order, the plaintiffs filed their motion for class certification. On August 19, 2002, the court granted the plaintiffs' motion for class certification. Adair v. England, 209 F.R.D. 5 (D.D.C. 2002).
On October 18, 2002, the plaintiffs moved to amend their first amended complaint to reflect purported new evidence about the true extent and duration of the Navy's alleged discrimination against non-liturgical Christian chaplains. Pls.' Mot. to Am. 1st Am. Compl. ...