University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Charelle Loder v. Reese McKinney, Jr. IM-AL-0010
Docket / Court 2:11-cv-00979-WKW-WC ( M.D. Ala. )
State/Territory Alabama
Case Type(s) Immigration
Attorney Organization Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
On November 17, 2011, several couples who reside in Alabama filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama against the State of Alabama, alleging violations of the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs, ... read more >
On November 17, 2011, several couples who reside in Alabama filed a class action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the Middle District of Alabama against the State of Alabama, alleging violations of the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment. The plaintiffs, represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center and private counsel, sought a declaratory judgment, injunctive relief, and attorneys' fees, alleging that the defendants' policies discriminated against non-U.S. citizens trying to obtain a marriage license in Alabama.

In Alabama, no person may marry without a marriage license. One of a probate judge's ministerial jobs is to issue marriage licenses to those couples that meet the requirements. Alabama law states that the parties issuing the marriage license must obtain the Social Security Number of the individuals getting married and have it appear in the marriage license and certificate. In 2008, the Alabama Attorney General, issued a statement saying that a Social Security Number or other proofs of citizenship were not required to obtain a marriage license. The Attorney General ordered the probate offices to instead allow people trying to get married the opportunity to submit an affidavit saying they do not have a Social Security Number.

On September 13, 2012, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) denied Defendant Probate Judge McKinney, Jr.'s (Probate Judge Reed's predecessor) motion to dismiss. The defendant argued that the plaintiffs did not have standing since they did not apply for a marriage license and thus did not suffer any type of injury. However, the District Court (Judge Watkins) did not buy this argument since Judge McKinney, Jr. had a clear policy of requiring non-citizens who wanted to get a marriage license to provide proof of legal status. The District Court (Judge Watkins) thus found that the plaintiffs were effectively barred from applying for a marriage license and that applying for it would have been futile. On September 25, 2012, the District Court (Judge Watkins) denied the plaintiffs' motion for class certification so on December 7, 2012, the plaintiffs filed their first amended complaint.

On June 3, 2013, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) entered a protective order assuring the confidentiality of certain information disclosed by both parties. On June 11, 2013, the District Court (Judge Watkins) granted Defendant Probate Judge Reed's motion to dismiss any claims against him. Judge Reed argued that his probate office did not require proof of citizenship prior to issuing marriage licenses, and that he was actually willing to give the plaintiffs their marriage licenses if they had applied for it. Judge McKinney, Jr.'s prior policy was repealed and so the District Court (Judge Watkins) found that the plaintiffs no longer had standing.

On August 19, 2013, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) approved the parties' joint stipulation of dismissal. As part of the agreement, the official Probate County's marriage policy was amended and published so that it was clear that there were no citizenship requirements, including a Social Security Number, to obtaining a marriage license.

Perry Miska - 03/30/2014


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Immigration status
General
Marriage
Immigration
Constitutional rights
Family
Undocumented immigrants - rights and duties
Undocumented immigrants - state and local regulation
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) State of Alabama
Plaintiff Description Couples, where at least one individual is not a U.S. citizen, who are barred by an Alabama law from obtaining a marriage license.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Defendant
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration not on record
Case Closing Year 2013
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Limited Partnership
http://www.limitedpartnershipmovie.com/
By: Thomas G. Miller
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

  Threats to the Future of the Immigration Class Action
Washington University Journal of Law and Policy
By: Jill E. Family (Widener University School of Law)
Citation: 27 Wash. U. J.L. & Pol'y 71 (2008)
[ 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)
2:11-cv-00979-WKW-WC (M.D. Ala.) 08/19/2013
IM-AL-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Class Action Complaint 11/17/2011
IM-AL-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Memorandum Denying Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 09/13/2012 (896 F.Supp.2d 1116) (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0007.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order (Denying Plaintiffs' Motion for Class Certification) 09/25/2012 (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
First Amended Complaint 12/07/2012
IM-AL-0010-0003.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulated Protective Order 06/03/2013 (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0005.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order 06/11/2013 (2013 WL 2566907 / 2013 U.S.Dist.LEXIS 81545) (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Document Source: Westlaw
Order and Stipulation of Dismissal 08/19/2013 (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0006.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Capel, Wallace Jr. (M.D. Ala.) [Magistrate]
IM-AL-0010-0005 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Watkins, William Keith (M.D. Ala.)
IM-AL-0010-0002 | IM-AL-0010-0004 | IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-0007 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bauer, Mary C. (Virginia)
IM-AL-0010-0001 | IM-AL-0010-0003 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Brooke, Samuel (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-0001 | IM-AL-0010-0003 | IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Howard, Alan B. (New York)
IM-AL-0010-9000
Knoepp, James Melvin (Georgia)
IM-AL-0010-0001 | IM-AL-0010-0003 | IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Rubio, Sigfredo (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-0001 | IM-AL-0010-0003 | IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Werner, Daniel (Georgia)
IM-AL-0010-0001 | IM-AL-0010-0003 | IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bolling, Frederic A (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-9000
Clements, Fred Lee Jr. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Englehart, John Mark (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-9000
Gillis, Henry Lewis (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-9000
Means, Tyrone Carlton (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-9000
Webb, Kendrick E. (Alabama)
IM-AL-0010-0006 | IM-AL-0010-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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