University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Justice NS-DC-0111
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00815 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) National Security
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Case Summary
On May 2, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). According to the complaint, plaintiff is an organization seeking to "protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving ... read more >
On May 2, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this suit under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). According to the complaint, plaintiff is an organization seeking to "protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving Americans of a free, fair, and fully-informed opportunity to exercise ultimate sovereignty." As part of its activities, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, including by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website.

Plaintiff sought disclosure of agency records by the Department of Justice (DOJ) that will shed light on the degree to which (if at all) the agency was consulted prior and subsequent to the implementation of President Trump's Jan. 27 Executive Order 13769, the order restricting travel by nationals of 7 majority-Muslim countries.

The complaint alleged that on Feb. 15, 2017, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to DOJ seeking copies of records that memorialized the following:
1. Whether DOJ reviewed the EO before it was issued;
2. Whether the EO was transmitted to DOJ for review, comment, or awareness;
3. Whether there was any decision to seek or not seek input from DOJ on creating or implementing the EO;
4. Whether there was any process to obtain DOJ review of the EO;
5. Whether any other federal agency personnel reviewed the EO before it was issued.

The complaint further alleged that, to date, plaintiff had not received a substantive response from DOJ. Plaintiff sought a disclosure order under FOIA and sought legal fees.

The case was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and was assigned to Chief Judge Beryl A. Howell.

That same day, plaintiff filed another, similar, FOIA lawsuit against the Office of Management and Budget, described here. On June 9, DOJ filed an unopposed motion to consolidate the two cases; Judge Howell granted the motion on June 12. The cases have now been consolidated and continue at NS-DC-0112 in this Clearinghouse.

The case was re-assigned to Judge Amit P. Mehta on June 15.

This case is ongoing.

Ava Morgenstern - 07/30/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Defendant-type
Law-enforcement
Discrimination-basis
National origin discrimination
Religion discrimination
General
Confidentiality
Record-keeping
Records Disclosure
Terrorism/Post 9-11 issues
Immigration/Border
Admission - criteria
Admission - procedure
Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Status/Classification
Visas - criteria
Visas - procedures
National Origin/Ethnicity
Arab/Afgani/Middle Eastern
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. ยง 552
Defendant(s) U.S. Department of Justice
Plaintiff Description Plaintiff is an organization seeking to "protect our democracy from descending into a more autocratic form of government by preventing those in power from depriving Americans of a free, fair, and fully-informed opportunity to exercise ultimate sovereignty." As part of its activities, plaintiff aims to inform the public about executive branch activity, including by filing FOIA requests and releasing the results on its website.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Case Ongoing No reason to think so
Case Listing NS-DC-0112 : Protect Democracy Project v. Office of Management and Budget (D.D.C.)
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-00815 (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0111-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/12/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
NS-DC-0111-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FOIA Request from Project Democracy [ECF# 1-1]
NS-DC-0111-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Howell, Beryl Alaine (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0111-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Murphy, Allison F. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0111-0001 | NS-DC-0111-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berns, Matthew (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0111-9000

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