University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Protect Democracy Project v. Office of Management and Budget NS-DC-0112
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00814-APM ( 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 lawsuit 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 ... read more >
On May 2, 2017, the Protect Democracy Project filed this lawsuit 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 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that will shed light on the degree to which (if at all) any federal agencies were consulted prior and subsequent to the implementation of President Trump's Jan. 27 Executive Order 13769, which restricted travel to the U.S. by nationals of seven majority-Muslim countries.

The complaint alleged that on Feb. 15, 2017, plaintiff submitted a FOIA request to OMB seeking copies of records that memorialized the following:
1. Whether any federal agency personnel reviewed the EO before it was issued, including whether DOJ reviewed it for lawfulness or deemed it lawful or unlawful;
2. Whether the EO was transmitted to any federal agency for review, comment, or awareness, including but not limited to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) or DOJ;
3. Whether there was a decision to seek or not seek input from federal agency personnel on the creation or implementation of the EO, including but not limited to DHS or DOJ;
4. Whether there was any process for obtaining agency input regarding the EO.

The complaint further alleged that, to date, plaintiff had not received a substantive response from OMB. 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 Judge Amit P. Mehta.

That same day, plaintiff filed another, similar, FOIA lawsuit against the Department of Justice, described here. On June 9, OMB filed an unopposed motion to consolidate the two cases; Judge Mehta granted the motion on June 12. The cases have now been consolidated and continue on this page.

OMB and DOJ both answered plaintiff's complaint on June 21. The parties filed a joint status report on July 10. Judge Mehta set the next status report to be due on Aug. 8, and every month afterward until a further Court order.

On Aug. 8 the parties filed the next joint status report. OMB reported that it anticipated releasing the requested records in September, while DOJ would provide a progress update in a subsequent status report.

In that status report, on Sept. 12, OMB anticipated completing its records search by Sept. 22. DOJ reported that it had located and released only one responsive record so far, and would release more documents on a rolling schedule beginning in October.

This case was reassigned to Judge Timothy J. Kelly on Sept. 19.

In the parties' Oct. 10 joint status report, DOJ reported that it had found approximately 5,500 records responsive either to plaintiff's FOIA request or to the FOIA requests submitted by others seeking records related to the same general subject matter. DOJ anticipated beginning rolling releases of this material within the month of October.

In the next status report of Nov. 14, OMB reported that it had completed its processing, whereas DOJ had produced some documents in October and would continue to do so on a rolling basis.

In the Dec. 12 status report, DOJ added that it had produced more documents in November and would continue to produce documents approximately monthly.

This case is ongoing.

Ava Morgenstern - 12/16/2017


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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. Office of Management and Budget
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 Yes
Case Listing NS-DC-0111 : Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Justice (D.D.C.)
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-814 (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0112-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
NS-DC-0112-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
FOIA Request from Project Democracy [Exhibit A to the Complaint] [ECF# 1-1]
NS-DC-0112-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/02/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Unopposed Motion to Consolidate Related Cases [ECF# 11]
NS-DC-0112-0003.pdf | Detail
Date: 06/09/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 15]
NS-DC-0112-0004.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/06/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 16]
NS-DC-0112-0005.pdf | Detail
Date: 08/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 18]
NS-DC-0112-0006.pdf | Detail
Date: 10/10/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Joint Status Report [ECF# 19]
NS-DC-0112-0007.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/14/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Mehta, Amit Priyavadan (D.D.C.)
NS-DC-0112-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Murphy, Allison F. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0112-0001 | NS-DC-0112-0004 | NS-DC-0112-0005 | NS-DC-0112-0006 | NS-DC-0112-0007 | NS-DC-0112-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Berns, Matthew (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0112-0003 | NS-DC-0112-0004 | NS-DC-0112-0005 | NS-DC-0112-0006 | NS-DC-0112-0007 | NS-DC-0112-9000
Readler, Chad A. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0112-0003 | NS-DC-0112-0004 | NS-DC-0112-0005 | NS-DC-0112-0007
Shapiro, Elizabeth J. (District of Columbia)
NS-DC-0112-0003 | NS-DC-0112-0004 | NS-DC-0112-0005 | NS-DC-0112-0007

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