University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Wilson v. Bruning PC-NE-0010
Docket / Court 8:13-CV-00130 ( D. Neb. )
State/Territory Nebraska
Case Type(s) Prison Conditions
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On April 22, 2013, an inmate of the Nebraska Department of Corrections and his intended spouse filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the District of Nebraska under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Nebraska Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs represented themselves pro se and claimed ... read more >
On April 22, 2013, an inmate of the Nebraska Department of Corrections and his intended spouse filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court in the District of Nebraska under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 against the Nebraska Department of Corrections. The plaintiffs represented themselves pro se and claimed that their constitutional rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, Due Process Clause, and Equal Protection Clause have been violated. They asked the court to allow the transgender plaintiff to change the sex listed on her birth certificate, to allow her to marry the male plaintiff, for the free plaintiff to gain visitation rights to the incarcerated plaintiff, and for the plaintiffs to be allowed to wear hats during Quaker religious ceremonies.

One half of the plaintiff couple is an inmate who wishes to marry the other half the couple, who is a transgender woman and a former inmate in the facility in which the other plaint still resides. This prison does not allow former inmates to visit those that are still incarcerated for a period three years after their release unless there is an immediate family relationship. The plaintiffs claim that this restriction on visitation interferes with their First Amendment right to freedom of association, and that Nebraska's ban on same-sex marriage violated their constitutional rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause. They further allege that their inability to marry denies the couple many benefits that married couples enjoy.

On April 17, 2014, the court (Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf) ordered that all the plaintiffs' claims were dismissed except the one alleging interference of First Amendment rights, which was allowed to proceed to service of process. Senior Judge Richard G. Kopf stated that the plaintiffs' motion to allow the wearing of hats for religious reasons was unrelated to the to the claims alleged in the complaint, and that the plaintiffs must address this claim in a separate action.

The plaintiffs appealed, and as of August 3, 2014, this case is still ongoing.

Megan Dolan - 08/05/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Corrections
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
Sexual orientatation
General
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Marriage
Visiting
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Nebraska
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is a male inmate of the Nebraska Department of Corrections who wishes to marry a transgender woman who was a former inmate at the same prison, and to be free to associate with each other as immediate family members before the mandatory three year waiting period for released inmates.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Civil Rights Injunctions Over Time: A Case Study of Jail and Prison Court Orders
N.Y.U. Law Review
By: Margo Schlanger (Washington University)
Citation: 81 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 550 (2006)
[ Detail ] [ PDF ] [ External Link ]

  Judicial Policy Making and the Modern State: How the Courts Reformed America's Prisons
By: Malcolm M. Feeley & Edward Rubin (UC Berkeley Boalt Hall School of Law & Vanderbilt School of Law Faculty)
Citation: (1998)
[ Detail ]

  Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  United States Government says L.A. Gay Couple’s 1975 Marriage is Valid
The Pride L.A.
Written: Jun. 07, 2016
By: Troy Masters
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
8:13-cv-00130-RGK-PRSE (D. Neb.) 07/17/2014
PC-NE-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Pro Se Civil Complaint 04/22/2013
PC-NE-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Amended Complaint 12/10/2013
PC-NE-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum and Order [Dismissing Certain Claims and Allowing First Amendment Claim to Proceed to Service of Process] 04/17/2014 (D. Neb.)
PC-NE-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Kopf, Richard George (D. Neb.) [Magistrate]
PC-NE-0010-0003 | PC-NE-0010-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers None on record
Defendant's Lawyers Citta, Kyle J. (Nebraska)
PC-NE-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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