United States District Court, District of Columbia
Montgomery Blair Sibley, Washington, DC, pro se.
Andrew J. Saindon, D.C. Office of Attorney General, Washington, DC, for Defendants.
JOHN D. BATES, District Judge.
Plaintiff Sibley has returned to this Court with yet another case challenging President Obama's eligibility to hold office. The case was filed in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, where Sibley sought to enjoin defendants from casting their votes as electors for President Obama. Although a hearing was held on the preliminary injunction motion by the Superior Court, the action was subsequently removed to this Court while the motion was taken under advisement. Currently before the Court is that motion, several pending motions filed by Sibley, and motions by defendants to dismiss, to stay all discovery, or, in the alternative, to quash the various subpoenas, and for sanctions. For the reasons explained below, the Court will grant defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint for lack of jurisdiction, deny Sibley's motion for a preliminary injunction, and remand the case to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia.
This case is similar to other ones brought by Sibley. See Sibley v. Obama, Civ. Action No. 12-0001 (D.D.C.2012); Sibley v. Obama, Civ. Action No. 12-1832 (D.D.C.2012). In those actions, the Court rejected Sibley's various challenges to President Obama's eligibility to hold the office of President. See Sibley v. Obama, 866 F.Supp.2d 17, 19, 23 (D.D.C.2012); Sibley v. Obama, Civ. Action No. 12-1382, 2012 WL 6625813, at *1-2 (D.D.C. Dec. 19, 2012). While slightly different, the current action is cut from the same cloth as his previous actions. Sibley seeks to enjoin defendants Yvette Alexander, Don R.
Dinan, and William Lightfoot from casting their electoral votes for President Obama because " he is ineligible to hold the office of President of the United States." Sibley also seeks " a declaratory judgment that Defendants as electors cannot cast their Twelfth Amendment votes for ... Obama ... as he is not a ‘ natural born citizen’ ...." Compl. at 1-2. The Superior Court held a hearing on Sibley's motion for a preliminary injunction and took the matter under advisement. Before the Superior Court issued a decision, the case was removed to this Court. Sibley then filed several motions for an order to show cause [ECF Nos. 5, 11, 16]; to remand the matter to Superior Court [ECF No. 6]; and for expedited relief and discovery [ECF Nos. 7, 12]. Defendants have moved to dismiss on standing and mootness grounds, as well as on the merits, and have also sought to stay discovery or alternatively to quash the subpoenas, and for sanctions.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
" [I]n passing on a motion to dismiss, whether on the ground of lack of jurisdiction over the subject matter or for failure to state a cause of action, the allegations of the complaint should be construed favorably to the pleader." Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683, 40 L.Ed.2d 90 (1974); see also Leatherman v. Tarrant Cnty. Narcotics Intelligence & Coordination Unit, 507 U.S. 163, 164, 113 S.Ct. 1160, 122 L.Ed.2d 517 (1993). Therefore, the factual allegations must be presumed true, and plaintiffs must be given every favorable inference that may be drawn from the allegations of fact. See Scheuer, 416 U.S. at 236, 94 S.Ct. 1683; Sparrow v. United Air Lines, Inc., 216 F.3d 1111, 1113 (D.C.Cir.2000). However, the Court need not accept as true " a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation," nor inferences that are unsupported by the facts set out in the complaint. Trudeau v. Federal Trade Comm'n, 456 F.3d 178, 193 (D.C.Cir.2006) (quoting Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286, 106 S.Ct. 2932, 92 L.Ed.2d 209 (1986)).
Under Rule 12(b)(1), a court has an affirmative obligation to ensure that it is acting within the scope of its jurisdictional authority. Grand Lodge of Fraternal Order of Police v. Ashcroft, 185 F.Supp.2d 9, 13 (D.D.C.2001). " [A] court must dismiss a case when it lacks subject matter jurisdiction." Randolph v. ING Life Ins. & Annuity Co., 486 F.Supp.2d 1, 4 (D.D.C.2007). " ‘ [P]laintiff's factual allegations in the complaint ... will bear closer scrutiny in resolving a 12(b)(1) motion’ than in resolving a 12(b)(6) motion for failure to state a claim." Grand Lodge, 185 F.Supp.2d at 13-14 (omission in original) (quoting 5A Charles Alan Wright & Arthur R. Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 1350 (2d ed. 1987)). Moreover, " [a] court may appropriately dispose of a case under 12(b)(1) for standing," Randolph, 486 F.Supp.2d at 5, or on mootness grounds, see Comm. in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador v. Sessions, 929 F.2d 742, 744 (D.C.Cir.1991). A court may consider material other than the allegations of the complaint in determining whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, as long as it still accepts the factual allegations in the complaint as true. See Jerome Stevens Pharm., Inc. v. FDA, 402 F.3d 1249, 1253 (D.C.Cir.2005); EEOC v. St. Francis Xavier Parochial Sch., 117 F.3d 621, 624 n. 3 (D.C.Cir.1997); Herbert v. Nat'l Acad. of Scis., 974 F.2d 192, 197 (D.C.Cir.1992).