University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Edgar v. Coats FA-MD-0002
Docket / Court 8:19-cv-00985-GJH ( D. Md. )
State/Territory Maryland
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Attorney Organization ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
Case Summary
On April 2, 2019, five former employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense, represented by the ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute, brought this suit challenging a system of prepublication review instituted by ... read more >
On April 2, 2019, five former employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense, represented by the ACLU and Knight First Amendment Institute, brought this suit challenging a system of prepublication review instituted by these agencies. Specifically, these agencies require that former employees who seek to write or speak about their government service must get approval from the agency prior to doing so or risk facing sanction. Plaintiffs argued that the regimes violated plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights in granting executive officers sweeping discretion to suppress publications and speech. Plaintiffs sought declaratory and injunctive relief enjoining defendants from continuing to enforce the prepublication review regimes against plaintiffs or any other person. The case was assigned to Judge Jarrod Hazel.

In their complaint, plaintiffs recognized that the agencies had a legitimate government interest in protecting bona fide national security secrets but argued that prior restraint is an extreme measure justifiable only in circumstances involving a compelling government interest, where procedural safeguards against censorship would be necessary. Plaintiffs argued that to meet First Amendment standards, systems of prepublication review would need to contain certain features, including but not limited to strict and definite time limits for completion of review, explanations of censors’ decisions, and clear notice of the application of standards. At the time the case was initiated, none of the defendants’ prepublication review regimes contained these features.

Defendants filed a motion to dismiss on June 14, 2019, to which plaintiffs responded with a request for a hearing with oral argument on the motion to dismiss.

The case is ongoing.

Hafsa Tout - 10/24/2019


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Takings
General
Confidentiality
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201
Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens
Defendant(s) Acting Secretary of Defense
Director of National Intelligence
Director of the CIA
Director of the NSA
Plaintiff Description Former employees of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Department of Defense.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU Chapters (any)
ACLU National (all projects)
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 yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filing Year 2019
Case Ongoing Yes
Docket(s)
8:19-cv-985 (D. Md.)
FA-MD-0002-9000.pdf | Detail
Date: 05/06/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Complaint [ECF# 1]
FA-MD-0002-0001.pdf | Detail
Date: 04/02/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum for Amicus Curiae Center for Ethics and Rule of Law in Support of Plaintiffs' Brief [ECF# 34]
FA-MD-0002-0002.pdf | Detail
Date: 07/23/2019
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
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Judges Hazel, George Jarrod (D. Md.) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Abdo, Alex (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Eidelman, Vera (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Gilens, Naomi (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Jaffer, Jameel (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Kaufman, Brett Max (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Krishnan, Ramya (New York) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Rocah, David Robert (Maryland) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0001 | FA-MD-0002-9000
Other Lawyers Fickler, Arlene (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0002
Welsh, Christopher (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0002
Woodward, Gordon Samuel (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
FA-MD-0002-0002

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