University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Texas v. United States PB-TX-0010
Docket / Court 7:15-cv-00056-O ( N.D. Tex. )
State/Territory Texas
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Special Collection Same-Sex Marriage
Case Summary
On March 18, 2015, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the Attorneys General from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska, filed this federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case, brought against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), asked ... read more >
On March 18, 2015, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, along with the Attorneys General from the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska, filed this federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case, brought against the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), asked the court to strike down the DOL final rule defining "spouse" for purposes of the Family and Medical Leave Act, 29 U.S.C. § 2611.

The FMLA defines "spouse" as "a husband or wife, as the case may be." 29 U.S.C. § 2611(13). In 1993, the Department's Interim Final Rule defined "spouse" as "a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in states where it is recognized." 58 Fed. Reg. 31817, 31835 (June 4, 1993). The 1995 Final Rule clarified that the law of the State where the employee resides would control for the purpose of determining eligibility for FMLA spousal leave. 80 Fed. Reg. 9990 (Feb. 25, 2015). Under the new rule, 29 C.F.R. Part 825, the FMLA moved from a "state of residence" to a "place of celebration" rule for the definition of spouse. That means that it would cover same-sex spouses if their marriage took place in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, even if they lived in (or moved to) a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. The rule, described here, was scheduled to become effective on March 27, 2015.

On March 26, 2015, the day before the rule's effective date, the District Court (Judge Reed O'Connor) entered a preliminary injunction barring its enforcement. It's unclear whether that order applies to application of the rule outside of Texas, or outside of the states that are parties. The court granted defendants’ request for a hearing, and scheduled it for April 10, 2015. 95 F. Supp. 3d 965, 2015 WL 1378752, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38264.

On April 24, 2015, the states of Louisiana, Georgia, Texas, Nebraska and Arkansas filed a second amended complaint. The plaintiff states alleged that: (1) the Windsor decision affirmed states’ authority to define and regulate marriage, a principle embodied in the full faith and credit statute; (2) the DOL’s Final Rule ignores that that the federal full faith and credit statute expressly reserves the right to the States to refuse to recognize as marriages same-sex unions performed under the laws of other States; (3) by requiring plaintiff states to recognise out-of-state same-sex marriage for the purposes of the FMLA, the DOL is interfering with plaintiff states’ enforcement of their duly enacted law by forcing plaintiff states to violate either state law or a federal regulation; (4) the Final Rule conflicts with the federal full faith and credit statute and the Windsor decision; (5) Congress did not pre-empt state law defining marriage in the FMLA; and (6) the new rule harms the states as well as employers within the states. The plaintiff states sought a declaratory judgment that the Final Rule is unlawful under the Administrative Procedure Act and that it unlawfully attempts to abrogate state sovereign immunity, and requested temporary relief in enjoining the Final Rule from taking effect on March 27, 2015.

On April 27, 2015, the district court stayed the proceedings pending the Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (PB-OH-0003 in this Clearinghouse). The defendant filed a motion to dissolve preliminary injunction on the same day. On June 26, 2015, in light of the Obergefell decision, the district court lifted the stay of this case, and granted the defendant’s motion to dissolve the preliminary injunction that was issued on March 26, 2015 as it found that the plaintiffs have not demonstrated a likelihood of success on the merits, as required by the four-factor preliminary injunction test. 2015 WL 13424776, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190764.

On July 17, 2015, plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal of this action, and the case was subsequently closed.

However, on August 4, 2015, the defendants filed a motion for the court to vacate its March 26, 2015 order granting the preliminary injunction. On February 2, 2016, the district court denied the defendants’ motion to vacate as (1) the defendants are not suffering from the “vagaries of circumstance” because the preliminary injunction has lost its effectiveness, and that (2) the court is not obligated to vacate on the grounds that matters of “broad issues of law” discussed within the order may “recur in future litigation”. 2016 WL 3636072, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92575.

As of November 2018, there has been no further action in this case since the February 2, 2016 order.

John He - 03/30/2015
Dawn Lui - 12/04/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Full faith and credit
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Discrimination-basis
Sexual orientatation
General
Disparate Treatment
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Public benefits (includes, e.g., in-state tuition, govt. jobs)
Plaintiff Type
State Plaintiff
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Labor
Plaintiff Description States of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Georgia
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Mixed
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Filing Year 2015
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
7:15-cv-00056-O (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/02/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction/Stay of Administrative Proceedings [ECF# 1]
PB-TX-0010-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 03/18/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion and Order [Preliminary Injunction] [ECF# 18] (2015 WL 1378752) (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0010-0001.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 03/26/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges O'Connor, Reed Charles (N.D. Tex.)
PB-TX-0010-0001 | PB-TX-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Deane, William T. (Texas)
PB-TX-0010-0002 | PB-TX-0010-9000
Duncan, S. Kyle (District of Columbia)
PB-TX-0010-9000
Murphy, Michael P. (Texas)
PB-TX-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Luh, James C. (District of Columbia)
PB-TX-0010-9000

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