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Case Name The Protect Democracy Project v. U.S. Department of Justice PR-DC-0003
Docket / Court 1:17-cv-00842 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Presidential Authority
Special Collection Trump Administration FOIA cases
Case Summary
On July 31, 2017, Plaintiff The Democracy Project, Inc. filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Plaintiff sought injunctive relief against Defendants Department of State, Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice under the Freedom of ... read more >
On July 31, 2017, Plaintiff The Democracy Project, Inc. filed this lawsuit in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. The Plaintiff sought injunctive relief against Defendants Department of State, Department of Defense, and the Department of Justice under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552. The Plaintiff is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose focus is on informing the public of operations and activities of the government by gathering and disseminating information likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of executive branch operations and activities.

On April 6, 2017, President Trump ordered Tomahawk cruise missile strikes against a Syrian-government airbase without obtaining prior authorization from Congress (a Syrian-based policy promised by former President Barack Obama) and without articulating the legal justification for the strikes. The Plaintiff submitted FOIA requests to the Defendants the following day for all records “reflecting, discussing, or otherwise relating” to the strike “and/or the President’s legal authority to launch such a strike”. The Plaintiff asked for these requests to be processed on an expedited basis. About one month later, having received none of the requested documents and having two of its expedited processing requests denied, the Plaintiffs brought this suit and filed a motion for preliminary injunction to have the documents produced by a date certain.

On July 13, 2017, U.S. District Judge Christopher R. Cooper granted in part and denied in part the Plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction, directing the Defendants to process the FOIA requests on an expedited basis, but not by a date certain, and to limit the request to documents specifically related to the legal justifications for the April 6 Syria Strikes. 2017 WL 2992076.

On September 8, 2017, the Defendants made a production pursuant to the FOIA requests, but the Plaintiffs contested that the production was too heavily redacted and insufficient. The case is still pending.

Robert Carnes - 11/06/2017


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Causes of Action Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. § 552
Defendant(s) Department of Defense
Department of Justice
Department of State
Plaintiff Description The Plaintiff is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization whose focus is on informing the public of operations and activities of the government by gathering and disseminating information likely to contribute significantly to the public understanding of executive branch operations and activities.
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
1:17-cv-00842 (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/05/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0003-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/08/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [ECF# 14] (2017 WL 2992076) (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0003-0002.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Date: 06/20/2017
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Cooper, Christopher Reid (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0003-0002 | PR-DC-0003-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berwick, Benjamin Leon (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0003-9000
Florence, Justin (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0003-0001
Murphy, Allison F. (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0003-0001 | PR-DC-0003-9000
Remes, David (Maryland)
PR-DC-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Davis, Kathryn Celia (District of Columbia)
PR-DC-0003-9000

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