United States District Court, C.D. Illinois
MICHAEL W. SMITH and JOSHUA D. WARNER, Plaintiffs,
BRUCE RAUNER, et al., Defendants.
MERIT REVIEW ORDER
MYERSCOUGH UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Michael W. Smith and Joshua D. Warner, are civil detainees at
the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center. Plaintiffs
proceed pro se and seek leave to proceed in forma pauperis.
The "privilege to proceed without posting security for
costs and fees is reserved to the many truly impoverished
litigants who, within the District Court's sound
discretion, would remain without legal remedy if such
privilege were not afforded to them." Brewster v.
North Am. Van Lines, Inc., 461 F.2d 649, 651 (7th Cir.
1972). A court must dismiss cases proceeding in forma
pauperis "at any time" if the action is frivolous,
malicious, or fails to state a claim, even if part of the
filing fee has been paid. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(d)(2).
Accordingly, this Court grants leave to proceed in forma
pauperis only if the complaint states a federal claim.
reviewing the complaint, the Court accepts the factual
allegations as true, liberally construing them in
Plaintiffs' favor. Turley v. Rednour, 729 F.3d
645, 649 (7th Cir. 2013). However, conclusory
statements and labels are insufficient. Enough facts must be
provided to "'state a claim for relief that is
plausible on its face.'" Alexander v. U.S.,
721 F.3d 418, 422 (7th Cir. 2013)(quoted cite
Michael W. Smith and Joshua D. Warner, are civilly detained
in the Rushville Treatment and Detention Center pursuant to
the Illinois Sexually Violent Persons Commitment Act, 725
ILCS 207/1, et seq. They have filed a complaint
alleging that they have been denied the right to marry. They
had written to the Clerk of Schuyler County, Mindy Garrett,
asking for an application for a marriage license. Ms. Garrett
referred them to Defendant Blaesing, the Quality Assurance
Director for Department of Human Services
(“DHS”), indicating that Ms. Blaesing would be
able provide them with an application. [ECF 1-1 p. 5].
Plaintiffs allege that, despite repeated requests, no
application has been provided.
cite United States v. Windsor, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 2693
(2013), which held unconstitutional the denial of federal
marital benefits to same-sex marriages recognized under state
law. Plaintiffs request injunctive relief, compelling
Defendants DHS Secretary James Dimas, Rushville Program
Director Gregg Scott, Rushville Security Director James
Clayton and Assistant Program Director Eric Kunkle to draft
and implement a same-sex marriage policy. They request that
Defendants Blaesing and Garrett be compelled to issue them an
application for marriage license. They assert a demand for
compensatory and punitive damages against all Defendants.
which are “incompatible with ‘the evolving
standards of decency that mark the progress of a maturing
society''', violate the Eighth Amendment.
Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 102 (1976). In this
case, as Plaintiffs are detainees rather than convicted
prisoners, their § 1983 claim is reviewed under the Due
Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, rather than the
Eighth Amendment. The standard of review, however, is the
same under the Fourteenth Amendment, as under the Eight
Amendment. Zentmyer v. Kendall County, Ill., 220
F.3d 805, 810 (7th Cir. 2000).
United States Supreme Court has affirmed that those in the
prison context have a constitutional right to a marital
relationship. Turner v. Safley, 482 U.S. 78, 96
(1987). In a more recent decision, the Supreme Court also
found that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to
marry. Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S.Ct. 2584, 2599
(2015). This right is also recognized by the forum in which
this Court sits as the State of Illinois has codified the
right of same-sex couples to marry in its Religious Freedom
and Marriage Fairness Act. See 750 ILCS 80/1 et
§ 10. Equal access to marriage.
(a) All laws of this State applicable to marriage, whether
they derive from statute, administrative or court rule,
policy, common law, or any other source of civil or criminal
law, shall apply equally to marriages of same-sex and
different-sex couples and their children.
right of prisoners to marry, however, “is subject to
substantial restrictions as a result of incarceration.”
Turner at 95. “[A] prison regulation [that]
impinges on inmates' constitutional rights ... is valid
if it is reasonably related to legitimate penological
interests.” Riker v. Lemmon, 798 F.3d 546, 551
(7th Cir. 2015) (finding validity of facility's ban on
marriage between inmate and a former employee a question of
fact, precluding summary judgment).
determine the reasonableness of a regulation, the court must
balance the constitutional right asserted against the
legitimate penological goals of the prison. Id. at
552. See Baskin v. Bogan, 766 F.3d 648, 659 (7th
Cir. 2014) cert. denied 135 S.Ct. 316 (2014)
(groundless rejection of same-sex marriage is a
denial of equal protection) (emphasis in original). See
also, See Keeney v. Heath, 57 F.3d 579 (7th
Cir. 1995) (officials may burden right to marry where there
is penological justification). In Keeney, the
Seventh Circuit found penological justification for a
prison's ban on romantic relationships between guards and
inmates. Id. 581-82.
unclear at this point whether Defendants' apparent
refusal to facilitate the marriage was done pursuant to a
legitimate penological ...