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Case Name Love v. Johnson PB-MI-0010
Docket / Court 2:15-cv-11834-NGE-EAS ( E.D. Mich. )
State/Territory Michigan
Case Type(s) Public Benefits / Government Services
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Michigan
Case Summary
On May 21, 2015, the six transgender individuals filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the Secretary of the State of Michigan under the Declaratory Judgment Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint alleged that the current Drivers ... read more >
On May 21, 2015, the six transgender individuals filed this lawsuit in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The plaintiffs sued the Secretary of the State of Michigan under the Declaratory Judgment Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The complaint alleged that the current Drivers License policy, put in place by the Secretary, violated the plaintiffs' rights to privacy (U.S. Const. amend. 14), free speech (U.S. Const. amed. 1), equal protection, interstate travel (U.S. Const. art. IV, § 2, cl. 1), and independence in making important medical decisions. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU, asked the court to order the State to change the Drivers License policy and put in its place a system, like those found in Washington and California, which allow transgender persons to change their gender identification without obtaining an amended birth certificate or undergoing gender reassignment surgery. 2015 WL 3464089 (E.D.Mich.).

Obtaining an amended birth certificate can be difficult if not impossible. Not every transgender person needs or wants surgery and many people do not have insurance coverage or the money to pay for it. Most transgender people do not undergo such a procedure.

On November 16, 2015, Judge Edmunds denied defendant's motion for dismissal, rejecting defendants' argument that plaintiffs had failed to state a constitutional claim. The court decided that individuals had a privacy interest in the disclosure of information likely to result in the threat of bodily harm, and requiring plaintiffs to disclose their transgender status directly implicates their fundamental right to privacy. The court held that the defendant’s License Policy jeopardized the fundamental right to informational privacy, a plausible claim under the Fourteenth Amendment. The court did not adjudicate any additional constitutional questions on the plaintiffs’ remaining four claims. 146 F.Supp.3d 848.

On January 10, 2016, Judge Edmunds denied defendant’s motion for reconsideration of the November 16, 2015 order. It held that the defendant bore the burden of establishing that the License Policy was narrowly tailored to further a compelling state interest. The court rejected the defendant’s argument that if the court did not address the substantive merit of the remaining claims, the parties will be forced to pursue costly and voluminous discovery. It held that each of plaintiff’s five claims was tethered to one overarching concern, and sought the same relief – a declaration that the License Policy was unconstitutional. 2016 WL 106612.

On August 23, 2016, the court granted the defendant’s converted motion for summary judgment because the old License Policy had been abandoned and there was no longer a "live controversy" between the parties. This order was granted due to a change in policy that occurred in March 2016, when the defendant published a “a notice regarding an update to what is required for changing the sex designation on a driver license or personal identification card." Under the new policy, an applicant seeking to change the gender on their state ID “must provide any one of the following documents that show a sex other than currently designated on the drivers license or [personal identification card]: a certified birth certificate, a valid US Passport, valid US Passport Card or court order changing the sex of the individual.” This development was particularly important to the transgender community because, according to plaintiffs, the U.S. Department of State only requires a doctor’s certification that a person “has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition” to change the gender on their passport. Plaintiffs also agreed that the new, less restrictive policy conformed to “current scientific knowledge and research regarding transgender individuals and the medical standard of care for treating persons diagnosed with gender dysphoria.” 2016 WL 4437667.

This order closed the case in its entirety and it was dismissed.

Erin Pamukcu - 10/09/2015
Katherine Reineck - 12/05/2015
Dawn Lui - 12/04/2018


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Male
Constitutional Clause
Equal Protection
Freedom of speech/association
Right to travel
Defendant-type
Jurisdiction-wide
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
General
Access to public accommodations - governmental
Classification / placement
Drivers Licenses
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Race
Race, unspecified
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Defendant(s) Michigan Department of State
Plaintiff Description The plaintiff's are all members of the transgender community who are seeking to obtain Michigan Drivers Licenses that correctly identify their gender.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
ACLU of Michigan
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Filing Year 2015
Case Closing Year 2016
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at CourtListener.com (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
Docket(s)
2:15-cv-11834 (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0010-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PB-MI-0010-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/21/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion Denying Defendant's Motion to Dismiss [ECF# 36] (2015 WL 7180471) (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0010-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | External Link | Detail
Date: 11/16/2015
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order Denying Defendant's Motion for Reconsideration [ECF# 43] (2016 WL 106612) (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0010-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 01/10/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Opinion and Order Granting Defendant's Converted Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF# 78] (2016 WL 4437667) (E.D. Mich.)
PB-MI-0010-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 08/23/2016
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Edmunds, Nancy Garlock (E.D. Mich.) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0002 | PB-MI-0010-0002 | PB-MI-0010-0003 | PB-MI-0010-0004 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Anderson, Jacki Lynn (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Derksen, Michael Frederik (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Gilford, Steven R (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Kaplan, Jay (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Knight, John A. (Illinois) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Korobkin, Daniel S. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Steinberg, Michael J. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-0001 | PB-MI-0010-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Barton, Denise C. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-9000
Grill, Erik A. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-9000
Himebaugh, Kevin R. (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-9000
Miller, Jeanmarie (Michigan) show/hide docs
PB-MI-0010-9000

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