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Case Name Blumenthal v. Whitaker PR-DC-0012
Docket / Court 1:18-cv-02664 ( D.D.C. )
State/Territory District of Columbia
Case Type(s) Presidential/Gubernatorial Authority
Special Collection Take Care
Case Summary
On November 19, 2018, three U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued President Donald Trump and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seeking ... read more >
On November 19, 2018, three U.S. Senators, Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI), filed this lawsuit in the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia. The plaintiffs sued President Donald Trump and Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker seeking declaratory and injunctive relief. The senators alleged that the defendants violated the Appointments Clause (Articles II, §2) of the U.S. Constitution and the Department of Justice Succession Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 508(a). The plaintiffs were represented by the Constitutional Accountability Center and the Protect Democracy Project. The case was assigned to Judge Trevor McFadden, but randomly reassigned to Judge Randolph Moss shortly after the complaint was filed.

Specifically, the Senators alleged that by designating Matthew Whitaker to succeed Jeff Sessions as the Acting Attorney General, the plaintiffs were denied their right as Senators to vote on whether to consent to his appointment. The plaintiffs claimed that unlawfully denying legislators their right to cast an effective vote robs them of one of their core powers and responsibilities. The plaintiffs pointed to the Appointments Clause, which requires that provides principal federal officers be appointed only with the advice and consent of the Senate.

The plaintiffs further alleged that President Trump's action also violated the the DOJ Succession Statute. This statute provides that if the Attorney General's office is vacant, the Deputy Attorney General "may exercise all the duties of that office." The Deputy Attorney General had been available to exercise the functions and duties of the Office of Attorney General, and therefore, he should have been appointed as the Attorney General with the Senate's approval.

The case was briefly stayed at the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019 due to a lapse in federal appropriations. The government sought and received leave to delay in filing a response to the complaint.

Before the defendants could file a response, the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the case on February 19, 2019. Though no reasoning was given in the notice of dismissal, it likely was due to the nomination of William Barr to be United States Attorney General; he was confirmed by the typical appointment process and sworn into the position on February 14, and Whitaker left the Justice Department to go to the private sector. The case is now closed.

Lisa Koo - 02/18/2019
Ellen Aldin - 06/23/2020


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Plaintiff Type
Non-DOJ federal government plaintiff
Defendant(s) Donald J. Trump
Matthew G. Whitaker
Plaintiff Description Three U.S. Senators who claim that they were denied the right to vote guaranteed to them by the Appointments Clause. (Right to vote on President Trump's designation of the Defendant Whitaker to serve as an Officer of the United States).
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None
Source of Relief None
Filed 11/19/2018
Case Closing Year 2019
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)
  Blumenthal v. Whitaker
Protect Democracy
Date: 2019
By: Protect Democracy
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
1:18-cv-02664 (D.D.C.)
PR-DC-0012-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 02/19/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
PR-DC-0012-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 11/19/2018
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Moss, Randolph Daniel (D.D.C.) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Berwick, Benjamin Leon (Massachusetts) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-9000
Frazelle, Brian Rene (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-9000
Gorod, Brianne J. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-0001 | PR-DC-0012-9000
Tindall , Anne Harden (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-0001 | PR-DC-0012-9000
Wydra, Elizabeth B. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Lin, Jean (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
PR-DC-0012-9000

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