United States District Court, District of Columbia
CHRISTOPHER R. COOPER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Ronald Lee Blake, Jr. brings this action under the Full Faith
and Credit Clause of the United States Constitution against
the Federal Bureau of Investigation for declining to hire him
because of two state felony convictions that had been
pardoned and expunged from his record. Because neither the
Full Faith and Credit Clause nor its implementing statutes
provide a private right of action, Blake has not stated a
valid claim. The Court will therefore grant the FBI's
motion to dismiss.
Court, as it must, accepts as true the following facts drawn
from Mr. Blake's complaint. In 1992, Blake pled guilty to
two armed robbery offenses in Indiana state court. Compl. at
1; Opp'n Mot. to Dismiss, Ex. 1. After completing his
sentence, he went on to graduate from Indiana University and
the Quinnipiac University School of Law. Id. Ex. 2.
In 2005, his last year of law school, Blake's convictions
were pardoned by the Governor of Indiana and his conviction
records were later expunged. Id.; Blake v.
State, 860 N.E.2d 625, 626 (Ind.Ct.App. 2007).
2008, Blake enlisted in the United States Army, where he
served for eight years as an infantry combat medic, a Special
Forces trainee, and a defense lawyer in the Army Judge
Advocate General's Corps. Compl. at 1-2. Following his
discharge, Blake submitted a Special Agent application to the
FBI. Id. at 2. He was subsequently contacted by FBI
recruiters because of his special operations experience.
Id. However, in February 2017, the FBI's Office
of General Counsel, citing 5 U.S.C. § 7371, informed
Blake that his felony convictions precluded further
consideration of his Special Agent application. Id.
Blake responded that the statute should not apply given his
gubernatorial pardon and the expungement of his records.
Id. The FBI acknowledged this argument but
reiterated that it considered Blake “ineligible due to
[his] prior felony conviction.” Id. Blake
subsequently filed this suit, asking the Court to
“award full faith and credit to the decisions” of
the Indiana courts under Article 4, Section 1 of the United
States Constitution. Id. at 3. The FBI moves to
dismiss Blake's complaint under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which
relief can be granted.
Standard of Review
FBI's motion to dismiss must be granted if the complaint
does not “contain sufficient factual matter, accepted
as true, to ‘state a claim to relief that is plausible
on its face.'” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678 (2009) (quoting Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007)). The existence of a private right
of action under federal law goes to whether the plaintiff has
stated a claim on which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6); see Bell v. Hood, 327 U.S. 678, 682
deciding the FBI's Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court
“must accept as true all of the factual allegations
contained in the complaint.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007) (citing Twombly,
550 U.S. at 555-56). Any ambiguities must be viewed in a
light most favorable to the Plaintiff, giving him the benefit
of every reasonable inference drawn from the facts and
allegations in the complaint. In re Interbank Funding
Corp. Sec. Litig., 668 F.Supp.2d 44, 47 (D.D.C. 2009)
(citing Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236
(1974)). And pro se complaints, “however
inartfully pleaded, must be held to less stringent standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson, 551 U.S. at 94 (internal citation
sole basis for suit identified in Blake's complaint is
the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the U.S. Constitution. In
moving to dismiss, the FBI principally argues that the Clause
does not create a private right of action, which is a
prerequisite for stating a valid claim upon which relief can
be granted. Fed. R. Civ. P 12(b)(6); Bell, 327 U.S.
at 682. The Court agrees. As the Supreme Court held over 100
years ago, the Clause
only prescribes a rule by which courts, Federal and state,
are to be guided when a question arises in the progress of a
pending suit as to the faith and credit to be given by the
court to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings
of a state other than that in which the court is sitting . .
. [A]nd to invoke the rule which it prescribes does not make
a case arising under the Constitution or laws of the United
Minnesota v. N. Securities Co., 194 U.S. 48, 72
(1904). Nor has Congress created a private right of action in
any of the statutes it has enacted to implement the Clause.
Thompson v. Thompson, 484 U.S. 174, 182 (1998)
(“[T]he Full Faith and Credit Clause, in either its
constitutional or statutory incarnations, does not give rise
to an implied federal cause of action.”); see also,
e.g., Bryant v. Cherna, No. 10-1272, 2013 WL
49806, at *3 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 3, 2013) (“[T]here is no
private right of action for violation of the Full Faith and
Credit Act.”), aff'd, 520 F. App'x 55
(3d Cir. 2013); Williams v. Clark Cty. Pub.
Adm'r, No. 09-cv-810, 2010 WL 4340654, at *6 (D.
Nev. Oct. 26, 2010) (“[T]here is no private right of
action for enforcement of the Full Faith and Credit Clause in
federal court, either directly or under the implementing
statute.”). Blake therefore has not stated a claim upon
which relief can be granted.
the Court has no reason to question the extent of Mr.
Blake's rehabilitation or his fitness to be an FBI agent,
Blake has not presented an actionable basis for challenging
the FBI's denial of his application. As a result, the
Court must grant ...