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McCann v. Brady

United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division

May 18, 2018

WILLIAM “SAM” MCCANN and BRUCE ALAN MCDANIEL, Plaintiffs,
v.
WILLIAM E. BRADY, in his official capacities as Minority Leader of the Illinois State Senate, Leader of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus, and Senate Leader of the Illinois Republican Party, and the ILLINOIS SENATE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Andrea R Wood United States District Judge

         Plaintiffs William “Sam” McCann, an Illinois State Senator, and Bruce Alan Mcdaniel, a registered voter from the district that McCann represents, have brought this suit against Defendants William E. Brady (in his official capacities as Minority Leader of the Illinois State Senate, Leader of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus, and Senate Leader of the Illinois Republican Party) and the Illinois State Republican Caucus, [1] alleging that Defendants denied McCann access to certain Resources[2] in violation of Plaintiffs' rights under the First and the Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Now before this Court are Plaintiffs' emergency motion for a temporary restraining order (Dkt. No. 9) and Defendant Brady's motion to dismiss Plaintiffs' complaint (Dkt. No. 25). For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' claims against Brady are barred by the doctrine of legislative immunity and therefore grants Brady's motion to dismiss and denies Plaintiffs' request for emergency injunctive relief.

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         McCann is the State Senator representing Illinois Senate District 50 and Mcdaniel is a registered voter residing in that district. (CFAC ¶¶ 3-4.) Brady is a State Senator who also serves as the Minority Leader of the Illinois Senate, the Leader of the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus, and the Senate Leader of the Illinois Republican Party. (Id. ¶ 5.) McCann and Mcdaniel have brought this suit against Brady and the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus[3] alleging that, by denying McCann access to the Resources because he took positions at odds with Republican Party leadership, Defendants violated McCann's rights to freedom of speech (Count I) and freedom of association (Count II), and unlawfully retaliated against him (Count V), all in violation of the First Amendment; and also violated McCann's due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count III). Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants violated McCann's constituents' equal protection rights under the Fourteenth Amendment (Count IV) by creating two classes of voters- those whose Senators can effectively and fully participate in the legislative process and those whose Senators cannot do so.

         In addition to their complaint, Plaintiffs also filed a motion for a temporary restraining order, asking this Court to enjoin Defendants from excluding McCann from the Illinois Senate Republican Caucus (until he formally leaves the Republican Party) and the Minority Caucus, and to order Defendants to restore McCann's access to the Resources as necessary to perform his duties. In response to the motion for a temporary restraining order, Brady filed a motion to dismiss Plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), arguing, among other things, that he is entitled to legislative immunity. As Brady has invoked a doctrine providing for absolute immunity from suit, the Court took the motion to dismiss under advisement along with the motion for a temporary restraining order on an expedited basis.[4] The parties briefed the matter and the Court held oral argument. This ruling follows.

         FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         I. Illinois State Senate Organization and Resource Allocation

         Plaintiffs' complaint concerns the allocation of funds and other resources by the Illinois state legislature for use by Illinois State Senators.

         Legislative power in Illinois “is vested in a General Assembly consisting of a Senate and a House of Representatives.” Ill. Const. art. IV, § 1. Regarding Senate leadership, the Illinois Constitution provides that “[o]n the first day of the January session of the General Assembly in odd-numbered years, . . . the Governor shall convene the Senate to elect from its membership a President of the Senate as presiding officer.” Ill. Const. art. IV, § 6(b). The Illinois Constitution goes on to define the position of Minority Leader of the Senate as “a member of the numerically strongest political party other than the party to which . . . the President belongs.” Ill. Const. art. IV, § 6(c). Illinois Senate Rule 1-10 defines “majority caucus” to include “that group of Senators from the numerically strongest political party in the Senate” as well as “any Senator who is not from the numerically strongest or numerically second strongest political party in the Senate but who casts his or her final vote for President of the Senate for the person who is elected President of the Senate.” (CFAC ¶ 12, Dkt. No. 5.) Senate Rule 1-16 defines “minority caucus” to mean “that group of Senators from other than the majority caucus.” (Id.)

         With respect to funding, the Illinois Constitution provides that “[t]he General Assembly by law shall make appropriations for all expenditures of public funds by the State. Appropriations for a fiscal year shall not exceed funds estimated by the General Assembly to be available during that year.” Ill. Const. art. VIII, § 2(b). The Illinois state budget statute, 15 ILCS 20/50-22(b), provides that “the aggregate appropriations available for legislative operations . . . for each State fiscal year shall be no less than the total aggregate appropriations made available . . . for the immediately preceding fiscal year.” Legislative operations include expenditures for Senate operation. Id. If the aggregate appropriations made available are insufficient to meet the required level, the budget statute acts as “a continuing appropriation” of the necessary amounts. Id. In 2017, the General Assembly appropriated “[t]he sum of $20, 603, 400, or so much thereof as may be necessary, . . . to meet the ordinary and incidental expenses of the Senate legislative leadership and legislative staff assistants and the House Majority and Minority leadership staff, general staff and office operations.” S.B. 6 art. 89, § 15, 100th Gen. Assemb., 2017 Ill. Legis. Serv. P.A. 100-21 (Ill. 2017). Of this amount, “25.7% [was] appropriated to the Senate Minority Leader for such expenditures.” Id. (See also CFAC ¶ 20.)

         The General Assembly has also expressly provided for Senate staff. The Illinois General Assembly Staff Assistants Act, 25 ILCS 160/1a, provides that “[t]here shall be such staff assistants for the General Assembly as necessary, ” that “[o]f the staff assistants so provided, one half the total number shall be for the Senate, ” and that “[o]f the assistants provided for the Senate, one half shall be designated by . . . the minority leader.” When the General Assembly is in session, “the staff assistants shall be assigned by the legislative leadership of the respective parties to perform research and render other assistance to the members of that party on such committees as may be designated.” 25 ILCS 160/2(a). When the Assembly is not in session, “the staff assistants shall perform such services as may be assigned by the President and Minority Leader of the Senate and the Speaker and Minority Leader of the House of Representatives.” 25 ILCS 160/2(b). In addition, the Minority Leader of the Senate shall “adopt and implement personnel policies for staff assistants under [his] respective jurisdiction and control.” 25 ILCS 160/2(c).

         Apart from the resources allocated through the Senate leaders, each Illinois Senator is authorized by statute

to approve the expenditure of not more than $73, 000 per year to pay for “personal services”, “contractual services”, “commodities”, “printing”, “travel”, “operation of automotive equipment”, “telecommunications services” . . ., and the compensation of one or more legislative assistants . . . in connection with his or her legislative duties and not in connection with any political campaign.

25 ILCS 115/4.[5] A member of the General Assembly may hire “one or more legislative assistants, who shall be solely under the direction and control of that member, for the purpose of assisting the member in the performance of his or her official duties.” Id.

         II. Resources Available to McCann

         McCann has been a Senator since 2010, with his current term expiring in January 2019. (CFAC ¶ 23; Aff. of William “Sam” McCann (“Aff.”) ¶ 1, Dkt. No. 20.)[6] In 2015, McCann, a member of the Republican Party at that time, voted to override Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner's veto of Senate Bill 1229. (CFAC ¶¶ 23, 25.) Rauner, also a Republican, then endorsed and provided support for McCann's opponent in the 2016 Republican primary elections. (Id. ¶¶ 28- 30.) Still, McCann won his primary election and ran unopposed in the general election. (Id. ¶ 30.) However in 2017, another opponent announced his intention to challenge McCann in the 2018 Republican primary elections and secured the endorsement of the Sangamon County Republican Central Committee. (Id.)

         On April 19, 2018, after observing that a significant part of the electorate voted for Rauner's opponent in the Republican primaries for Illinois Governor, McCann announced his intention to run for Governor as a “new political party candidate” in the general election. (Id. ΒΆ 32.) McCann is currently collecting signatures to qualify ...


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