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Case Name Hegar v. Panetta EE-CA-0346
Docket / Court 3:12-cv-06005 ( N.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Equal Employment
National Security
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
Case Summary
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 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the Secretary of the Department of Defense ... read more >
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 lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against the 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On January 24, 2013, DoD rescinded the 1994 directive and stated that "[i]ntegration of women into newly opened positions and units will occur as expeditiously as possible, considering good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. The court continued the stay throughout 2017 and hosted periodic case management conferences.

At the end of that year, on December 18, 2017, the plaintiffs filed a second amended complaint. This complaint added further detail to the first amended complaint and restated the same request for relief: a declaration that the defendants had violated the plaintiffs' right to due process and equal protection of the laws, and injunctive relief ending gender-based exclusionary policies and practices and allowing women to apply for all combat-related positions. The defendants moved to dismiss for improper venue, non-justiciability, and lack of standing.

Just under five months later, on May 1, 2018, the court granted the defendant's motion to dismiss. 320 F. Supp. 3d 1082. The court allowed the plaintiff another opportunity to file a third amended complaint. On June 28, 2018, the plaintiffs filed a third amended complaint that challenged the DoD's Leaders First policy, which assigned junior servicewomen exclusively to units with female leaders, and the Marines' segregation of basic training by sex. The defendants again moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction and failure to state a claim.

On November 29, 2018, the court denied the defendant's motion to dismiss. Specifically, the court found that the Network had organizational standing to challenge both DoD policies, associational standing to challenge the Marines' training policy, and that the plaintiffs had adequately stated a claim. However, the court found that the Network had not pled facts to establish that it had associational standing to challenge the Leaders First policy. 352 F. Supp. 3d 977.

Following the previous order, the parties began engaging in discovery. On February 26, 2020, Judge Chen referred the case to Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler for settlement discussions. A settlement conference is scheduled for May 21, 2020. The case is ongoing.

Julie Singer - 02/13/2017
Carolyn Weltman - 02/28/2016
Craig Streit - 10/26/2016
Keagan Potts - 03/19/2019
Hope Brinn - 05/16/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-area
Hiring
Other Conditions of Employment (including assignment, transfer, hours, working conditions, etc)
Promotion
Discrimination-basis
Sex discrimination
General
Disparate Treatment
Other
Pattern or Practice
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex parte Young (federal or state officials)
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Defense
Plaintiff Description The plaintiffs are individual servicewomen who have served in Afghanistan and/or Iraq and the Service Women's Action Network, a nonprofit organization that supports servicewomen and veterans.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 11/27/2012
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Docket(s)
3:12-cv-6005 (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0346-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/23/2020
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint
EE-CA-0346-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/27/2012
Source: ACLU
First Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief [ECF# 18]
EE-CA-0346-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/31/2013
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Stipulation and Order Regarding a Limited Stay of This Matter [ECF# 36] (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0346-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/01/2014
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 118] (320 F.Supp.3d 1082) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0346-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/01/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Third Amended Complaint [ECF# 122] (2018 WL 3725691)
EE-CA-0346-0005.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/28/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Granting in Part Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (352 F.Supp.3d 977) (N.D. Cal.)
EE-CA-0346-0006.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 11/29/2018
Source: Westlaw
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Judges Chen, Edward Milton (N.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0003 | EE-CA-0346-0004 | EE-CA-0346-0006 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Agarwal, Shilpi (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Crosby, Margaret C. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0001 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Gill, Elizabeth O. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0001 | EE-CA-0346-0002 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Lapidus, Lenora M. (New Jersey) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0002 | EE-CA-0346-0005 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Migdal, Ariela M (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0002 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Overbeck, Mari (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0002
Perry, Steven M. (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0002 | EE-CA-0346-0005 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Ring, Rosemarie T (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-0001 | EE-CA-0346-0002 | EE-CA-0346-0005 | EE-CA-0346-9000
Sun, Christine Patricia (California) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Thomas, Gillian L. (New York) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Carmichael, Andrew Evan (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Cutri-Kohart, Rebecca (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Knapp, Michael Fraser (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000
Wolverton, Caroline Lewis (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
EE-CA-0346-9000

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