United States District Court, N.D. Illinois
January 21, 2004.
BOBBY G. ROSE, Plaintiff,
J. DENNIS HASTERT, et al., Defendants
The opinion of the court was delivered by: PAUL PLUNKETT, Senior District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Bobby G. Rose has filed a pro se complaint against United
States Representative J. Dennis Hastert and his staff seeking to have
them take various actions on public policy issues. Defendants have filed
a motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1)
and 12(b)(6). For the reasons set forth below, the 12(b)(1) motion is
granted and the Rule 12(b)(6) motion is dismissed as moot.
Defendants contend that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over plaintiff's complaint for a variety of reasons. In deciding a
Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss like this one, which does not attack the
factual basis for the Court's jurisdiction, we accept as true all
well-pleaded factual allegations of the complaint, drawing all reasonable
inferences in plaintiffs favor. United Phosphorus, Ltd, v. Angus
Chem. Co., 322 F.3d 942, 946 (7th Cir. 2002), cert.
denied, 124 S.Ct. 533 (2003). The burden of proving that
jurisdiction exists, however, rests with the plaintiff. Id.
Defendants' first argument is that plaintiff's claims, which seek to
force them to implement various public policies, are barred by the
political question doctrine, The Court agrees. The political question
doctrine "precludes as nonjusticiable consideration of cases in which
there exists a textually demonstrable constitutional commitment of the
issue to a coordinate political department." United States v.
Funmaker, 10 F.3d 1327, 1332 (7th Cir. 1993) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted). The United States Constitution explicitly
vests policy-making authority in Congress, not the judiciary. U.S.
CONST., art. I, § 1 ("All legislative Powers . . . shall be vested
in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and
House of Representatives."). Because plaintiff is, in essence, asking the
Court to direct Congress to enact certain policies, his claims are barred
by the political question doctrine.
They are also barred by the separation of powers doctrine. That
doctrine refers to the "basic principle of our constitutional scheme that
one branch of the Government may not intrude upon the central
prerogatives of another." Loving v. United States,
517 U.S. 748, 757 (1996). Enacting laws is the central prerogative
of Congress. U.S. CONST., art. I, § 1. Ordering defendants to
take, or refrain from taking, certain legislative action would be
an impermissible intrusion on that prerogative.
The Speech and Debate Clause, which says that Members of Congress
"shall not be questioned in any other Place" for "any Speech or Debate in
either House," id., art. I, § 6, also bars us from
entertaining plaintiff's claims. According to the Supreme Court, the
Speech and Debate Clause bars civil suits against federal legislators and
their aides that arise from "the sphere of legitimate legislative
activity." Eastland v. United States Servicemen's Fund,
421 U.S. 491, 503, 506 (1975). Activities included in that sphere are those
an integral part of the deliberative and
communicative processes by which Members
participate in committee and House proceedings
with respect to the consideration and passage or
rejection of proposed legislation or with respect
to other matters which the Constitution places
within the jurisdiction of either House.
Id. at 504 (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted). The actions on which this lawsuit is based, defendants' alleged
failure to implement various public policies, fall within the sphere of
legitimate legislative activity. As a result, the Speech and Debate
Clause immunizes defendants from plaintiffs' claims.
Even if plaintiff's claims were not barred by the doctrines discussed
above, he would lack standing to pursue them. Standing has three
elements: (1) an injury to a legally protected interest; (2) that can be
traced to the defendants; and (3) is likely to be redressed by a decision
in plaintiffs favor. Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife,
504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). None of those elements is present in this case.
Plaintiff claims to have been injured by defendants' failure to
implement various public policies. But plaintiff has no right to control
any legislator's policy decisions. Minnesota State Bd. for Comty.
Coll. v. Knight, 465 U.S. 271, 285 (1984) ("Nothing in the First
Amendment or in this Court's case law interpreting it suggests that the
rights to speak, associate, and petition require government policymakers
to listen or respond to individuals' communications on public issues.").
Accordingly, he has not suffered an injury to a legally protected
interest. Moreover, even if he had, that injury could not be traced to
these defendants or redressed by this lawsuit. Congress enacts laws as a
body. Thus, a single Representative and his staff cannot be blamed for
any injury that flows from the collective body's failure to implement a
given policy. Similarly, ordering a single Representative and his staff
to work towards plaintiffs legislative goals, would not ensure that the
legislation he seeks would be enacted by the whole Congress, In
short, because plaintiff has no legally cognizable injury that is
traceable to these defendants and can be redressed by this suit, the
Court would not have jurisdiction to entertain plaintiffs claims even if
they were otherwise justiciable.
For the reasons stated above, defendants' Rule 12(b)(1) motion to
dismiss is granted and this case is dismissed without prejudice for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction. Defendants' Rule 12(b)(6) motion to
dismiss is dismissed as moot. This is a final and appealable order.
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