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Little v. Fenty

March 2, 2010

JOYCE A. LITTLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ADRIAN FENTY, D.C. MAYOR, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Colleen Kollar-kotelly United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff, Joyce A. Little, representing herself pro se, has brought suit against Defendants District of Columbia Mayor Adrian Fenty and 11 Members of the Council of the District of Columbia ("Council Defendants") (collectively, "Defendants"). Plaintiff's lawsuit is principally directed at challenging the legitimacy of (a) the Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009 ("JAMA"), which amended District law to provide that legal, same-sex marriages entered into in other jurisdictions will be legally recognized in the District, and (b) the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, Bill 18-482 ("Bill 18-482"), which was recently submitted to Congress for the required passive review period and is intended to expand the definition of marriage in the District to include same-sex couples. As set forth in Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, she contends that both JAMA and Bill 18-482 are in violation of the District of Columbia Self-Government and Governmental Reorganization Act ("Home Rule Act") as well as the Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"). Plaintiff also alleges that the legislation violates her rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act ("RFRA"). Based on these asserted causes of action, Plaintiff seeks an order from the Court permanently enjoining Defendants from enacting any further legislation permitting same-sex marriages in the District, repealing JAMA, declaring Bill 18-482 unlawful, and opening an ethics and corruption investigation into the conduct of Mayor Fenty and the Council.

This matter presently comes before the Court on two motions to dismiss filed by the Council Defendants and Mayor Fenty respectively. See Council Defs.' MTD, Docket No. [32]; Def. Mayor's MTD, Docket No. [33]. Plaintiff opposes those motions and also seeks leave to amend her complaint for a second time. See Pl.'s Opp'n/Mot. to Amend, Docket No. [34]. After a thorough review of the parties' submissions, applicable case law, the relevant statutory authority, and the record of this case as a whole, the Court shall GRANT both the Council Defendants' [32] and Mayor Fenty's [33] Motions to Dismiss insofar as they each move to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) for lack of standing and shall DENY Plaintiff's [34] Motion for Leave to Amend as futile, for the reasons set forth below. Accordingly, as this case is dismissed for a lack of jurisdiction, the Court emphasizes that it does not reach the merits of Plaintiff's claims or of the underlying legislation at issue.

I. BACKGROUND

A. Statutory and Legislative Background

1. JAMA

On May 5, 2009, the Council of the District of Columbia (the "Council") approved the Jury and Marriage Amendment Act of 2009, referred to herein as "JAMA," by a vote of 12 to 1. See D.C. Act. 18-70; 56 D.C. Reg. 3797 (May 15, 2009). As indicated above, the measure amended District law to provide that legal, same-sex marriages entered into in another jurisdiction will be legally recognized in the District of Columbia. The Act was signed by the Mayor on May 6, 2009, transmitted to Congress, and became law on July 6, 2009. See D.C. Code § 46-405.01 (2009).

2. Bill 18-482

On December 1, 2009, the Council passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009, Bill 18-482, referred to herein as "Bill 18-482," by a vote of 11 to 2.*fn1 The legislation expressly expanded the definition of marriage in the District to include same-sex couples. A second and final vote occurred on December 15, 2009, passing by the same margin. See id. The Mayor signed the legislation on December 18, 2009, and the legislation was subsequently submitted to Congress for the required passive review period. See id. As of the filing of this Memorandum Opinion, the legislation remained pending before Congress.

B. Factual Background

Plaintiff, representing herself pro se, filed the above-captioned lawsuit on December 7, 2009. See Compl., Docket No. [1]. As indicated above, Plaintiff alleges that both JAMA and Bill 18-482 are ultra vires and violate the Home Rule Act and the Defense of Marriage Act. Id. at 3. Plaintiff later amended her Complaint on December 14, 2009, to add a claim under RFRA. See Am. Compl., Docket No. [31]. Specifically, Plaintiff alleges that she owns and operates a private tax consulting and preparation business in the District and engages in insurance and annuity underwriting services as well, and that "[t]his legislation would force [her] to provide services [to] same-sex couples therefore running counter to [her] own religious beliefs" in violation of RFRA. Id. at 7.*fn2 As relief, Plaintiff requests that the Court permanently enjoin the District from enacting any further legislation permitting same-sex marriages, repeal JAMA and declare Bill 18-482 unlawful. Id. at 8. Finally, she asks the Court to "open an ethics and corruption investigation into the mayor and the council" for alleged violations of "the legal boundaries of the Home Rule Charter." Id. at 9.

Along with the filing of her complaint on December 7, 2009, Plaintiff simultaneously filed a [2] Motion for Preliminary Injunction Staying the Final Vote on D.C. Bill 19-482 "Religious Freedom of Marriage Equality Act of 2009." See Pl.'s Mot. for P.I., Docket No. [2]. Plaintiff's motion principally focused on the then-pending second vote by the Council regarding Bill 18-482, and requested the Court issue an emergency order enjoining the Council from voting on the legislation. The Court ordered expedited briefing on Plaintiff's request for a preliminary injunction and subsequently denied the motion on the morning of December 15, 2009, finding that Plaintiff had failed to show any likelihood of irreparable harm and was unlikely to succeed on the merits. See Dec. 15, 2009 Mem. Op., Docket No. [26]. As is indicated above, the second vote by the Council took place later that day, and the legislation passed. See supra at p. 3.

The Court subsequently held an on-the-record telephone conference call with all parties, at which time the Court set a briefing schedule permitting Defendants to file a motion to dismiss that addressed any jurisdictional arguments previously raised in their briefing regarding Plaintiff's motion for a preliminary injunction as well as any other dispositive grounds. See Dec. 15, 2009 Order, Docket No. [30]. Pursuant to that schedule, Council Defendants and Mayor Fenty filed their respective motions to dismiss on January 8, 2010. See Council Defs.' MTD, Docket No. [32]; Def. Mayor's MTD, Docket No. [33]. On January 15, 2010, Plaintiff filed a combined opposition to Defendants' motions as well as a motion for leave to amend the complaint. See Pl.'s Opp'n/Mot. to Amend, Docket Nos. [34] & [35]. Council Defendants and Mayor Fenty each timely filed a reply in support of their respective motions to dismiss and opposition to Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend. See Council Defs.' Reply/Opp'n Docket Nos. [36] ...


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