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In Pedersen v. OPM, challenging DOMA, judge denies House Republicans’ request for stay of proceedings

DOMA trials Pedersen

By Scottie Thomaston

Updates below

The district court judge in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management has issued her order in the case on the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group’s (BLAG) request for a stay of the proceedings. BLAG asked the judge for the stay because, they suggested, another case that is on appeal to the Second Circuit (Windsor v. OPM) addresses the same issues. The plaintiffs in the case filed their opposition brief on June 22. Judge Bryant of the District Court of Connecticut has ruled against granting a stay, finding that the under the factors the Supreme Court has laid out for consideration of a stay, BLAG has “failed to sustain its burden to establish the need for a stay.” These four factors are: “(1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing that he is likely to succeed on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether the issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties interested in the proceeding; and (4) where the public interest lies.”

Judge Bryant notes that Windsor involves one plaintiff, and that plaintiff’s standing to have her case heard in federal court has been questioned. This could mean that the Second Circuit may only resolve the question of standing.

The judge also writes that when the request for a stay was filed, a decision was already in the process of being drafted: “Moreover, a stay in this matter would not conserve judicial economy, where, at the time the motion to stay was filed, the Court had already reviewed the parties’ pleadings, the law upon which the pleadings relied, had undertaken significant research and analysis, and had begun the process of drafting the decision, expending a substantial number of hours on the matter.”

Most importantly, the judge writes, plaintiffs would be harmed by a stay at this point: “The Court finds that the harm which would befall the Plaintiffs if a stay were to be entered is significant. Entering a stay in this matter would essentially deny the Plaintiffs the right to advocate for their own interests, asking them instead to “stand aside while a litigant in another [case] settles the rule of law that will define the rights of both [parties].””

With this ruling, the judge is free to issue a decision on the merits and could do so at any time.

The filing, via Kathleen:3:10-cv-01750 #114

Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (who is in charge of this case) has issued a statement:

In denying BLAG’s motion that the pending appeal in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Windsor case made her ruling unnecessary, Judge Bryant cited potential harm to the plaintiffs if the proceedings were halted. “The Court finds that the harm which would befall the Plaintiffs if a stay were to be entered is significant,” she wrote. “Entering a stay in this matter would essentially deny the Plaintiffs the right to advocate for their own interests, asking them instead to ‘stand aside while a litigant in another [case] settles the rule of law that will define the rights of both [parties].’”

“Our plaintiffs are being denied access to vital programs under DOMA, and we’re gratified that Judge Bryant affirmed their right to a resolution of their case,” said Mary L. Bonauto of GLAD, lead counsel in Pedersen. “As long as Jerry Passaro continues to be denied his late husband’s pension; Anne Meitzen continues to be unable to go on her wife Joanne Pedersen’s health insurance, and Lynda DeForge continues to be unable to care for her wife Raquel Ardin because she can’t get Family Medical Leave, this case should be moving forward. Judge Bryant came to the right conclusion.”

The Judge also ruled that there was no harm to BLAG from denying a stay, that staying the case would not preserve judicial economy since the case is fully briefed and the court has already begun drafting a decision, and that it is in the public interest for there to be more opinions and analyses to enrich Supreme Court review, should that review be forthcoming.

17 Comments Leave a Comment

  • 1. Sagesse  |  July 5, 2012 at 3:23 am

    Any idea why DOJ didn't include Windsor in its cert request. My non-lawyer guess is that it will create precedent in the second circuit where there is none now, and they want that process to continue?

  • 2. jpmassar  |  July 5, 2012 at 6:33 am

    a decision was already in the process of being drafted

    That's good to hear. I was getting to wonder whether the judge had taken ill or something.

  • 3. Str8Grandmother  |  July 5, 2012 at 8:28 am

    This looks promising.

  • 4. Izzoiz.com | Judge denies&hellip  |  July 5, 2012 at 9:21 am

    [...] via Prop 8 Trial Tracker » In Pedersen v. OPM, challenging DOMA, judge denies House Republicans’ requ…. [...]

  • 5. Larry  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    They could have also included Dragovich in the request. By total guess is that so far Golinski is the only case to use heightened scrutiny, so DOJ wanted to make sure the Supreme Court considered it.

  • 6. kevtrsk  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:23 am

    It appears the decision is in favor of the plaintiffs. otherwise there would be no reason not to stay the proceedings in this matter. It also appears that BLAG is aware they do not have a case so they are seeking to drag it out to the end.

  • 7. Bob  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:27 am

    they're working on it,,,,, good to know,,,, and a stay would cause further harm to plaintiffs,,,, sounding good

  • 8. Scottie Thomaston  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:47 am

    This would be my guess too based on reading the petitions. Seems like they wanted heightened scrutiny included in the review.

  • 9. Scottie Thomaston  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I'm not sure it necessarily means the decision will be in favor of the plaintiffs. At this point, the case has been fully briefed and it is ready for a decision. We've all just been waiting on the judge to issue it. It would be really strange for the judge to refuse a decision after spending so much time working on the case up to this point.

  • 10. Kathleen  |  July 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

    The Advocate's article on the order cites Scottie's post here at P8TT as the first to report the story. Way to go, Scottie!
    http://www.advocate.com/politics/marriage-equalit

  • 11. Gregory in SLC  |  July 5, 2012 at 1:07 pm

    : D !

  • 12. BLAG Request to Stop DOMA&hellip  |  July 6, 2012 at 5:14 pm

    [...] to Prop 8 Trial Tracker, which first reported on the order, Judge Bryant wrote that BLAG “failed to sustain its burden to [...]

  • 13. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  July 31, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    [...] while another DOMA case, Windsor v. USA, was pending appeal in the Second Circuit. Judge Bryant rejected the stay, concluding that stay issued so many months after the case was fully briefed and ready for a [...]

  • 14. Nikhil  |  November 16, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Neal, you are quick to insult pepole you don’t even know. The petitioners are finer pepole that you could ever hope to be. I appreciated their effort to get the issue before the voters. Too bad the email evidence was not a bit stronger in implicating Lover and Cawley since the rolling quorum was evidenced by the budget committee vote. You will never convince me the whole thing was not orchestrated and implemented by Bruce Smith. Now we have to put up with another two years of Ensey’s insolence yuk!

  • 15. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  December 13, 2012 at 6:34 pm

    [...] Section 3 of DOMA was struck down in Pedersen v. Office of Personnel Management, a case filed in federal district court in Connecticut. The decision came after the Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group (BLAG), who is defending the law, asked the judge to stay the proceedings in the case in light of Windsor v. USA, a case that’s currently on appeal to the Second Circuit. The judge denied the request. [...]

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