On November 27, 2012, a group of individual servicewomen and the Service Women's Action Network, a nonprofit organization that supports servicewomen and veterans, filed this Bivens lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Leon Panetta in his official ...
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On November 27, 2012, a group of individual servicewomen and the Service Women's Action Network, a nonprofit organization that supports servicewomen and veterans, filed this Bivens lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Leon Panetta in his official capacity as Secretary of the Department of Defense ("DoD"). The plaintiffs, represented by attorneys from private practice and from the ACLU Women's Rights Project and its Northern California Chapter, asked the Court for declaratory and injunctive relief, challenging as unconstitutional DoD's official policy barring women from serving in units whose primary mission is to engage in direct ground combat. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that this 1994 policy could not be justified by any important governmental objective and therefore violated their right to equal protection under the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
On January 24, 2013, DoD rescinded the 1994 directive and stated that "[i]ntegration of women into newly opened positions and units will occur as expeditiously as possible, considering good order and judicious use of fiscal resources, but must be completed no later than January 1, 2016." The Military Services, consisting of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, were ordered to submit plans for implementing the new policy to the Secretary by May 15, 2013. The plaintiffs then filed an amended complaint on October 31, 2013, arguing that DoD had continued to exclude women from applying for or serving in hundreds of thousands of combat positions despite rescinding the 1994 policy directive. DoD responded that this challenge was not ripe because the department was still in the process of implementing the new policy.
At the parties' request, on May 5, 2014, the District Court (Judge Edward M. Chen) entered a limited stay of the case until January 1, 2016, the deadline for implementing the new policy; this was later extended.
In a case management statement dated January 5, 2017, the plaintiffs took the position that the case should remain stayed until it becomes more certain if, and how, implementation of the directive will proceed under the Trump administration. The defendant countered that the plaintiffs do not have standing to maintain the action, and that the claims alleged are moot.
On January 12, 2017, the District Court (Judge Chen) submitted a minute entry stating that the Court will not lift the stay to adjudicate standing or mootness. Given that it is likely that changing circumstances in the next six months may inform the analysis of these motions, the Court will continue the stay until the next conference, set for July 13, 2017.Julie Singer - 02/13/2017
Carolyn Weltman - 02/28/2016
Craig Streit - 10/26/2016