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State v. United States Department of Commerce

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

September 9, 2019

STATE OF ALABAMA, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          R. DAVID PROCTOR, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This case is before the court on two Opposed Motions to Intervene. (Docs. # 96, 98).

         The first motion was filed by the States of New York, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington; the District of Columbia; the cities and counties of Cameron County, Texas; Central Falls, Rhode Island; Chicago, Illinois; Hidalgo County, Texas; Monterey County, California; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Providence, Rhode Island; and Seattle, Washington; and the United States Conference of Mayors (collectively, “the State and Local Government Movants”). (Doc. # 96).

         The second motion was filed by Arlington County, Virginia and the City of Atlanta, Georgia. (Doc. # 98). For clarity and convenience, both groups of Proposed Defendant-Intervenors will be referred to collectively as “the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors, ” or “Movants.” The Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors have filed their Motions pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a) and (b). (Docs. # 96, 98). They are opposed, fully briefed (Docs. # 96-98, 103, 106-07), and ripe for review. For the reasons explained below and in the court's December 13, 2018 Memorandum Opinion (see Doc. # 53), both Motions are due to be granted under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b)(1)(B), as the court concludes the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors are entitled to permissive intervention.

         I. Procedural Background

         Plaintiffs--the State of Alabama and Representative Morris J. “Mo” Brooks, Jr.--filed suit on May 21, 2018, challenging the final rule regarding the 2020 Census Residence Criteria and Residence Situations (“Residence Rule”), which was finalized in February 2018. (Doc. # 1 at ¶ 1). Plaintiffs raise three constitutional and two statutory challenges to the Residence Rule, contending that the inclusion of undocumented persons in the 2020 Census will negatively affect Alabama's access to federal funding as well as the State's political representation in the House of Representatives and the Electoral College. (See generally Doc. # 1). Plaintiffs request (1) that the Residence Rule be declared unlawful, and (2) that the congressional apportionment following the 2020 Census exclude undocumented persons from population figures. (Id. at ¶ 158).

         Before the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors filed the currently pending motions, the Martinez Defendant-Intervenors and the Local Government Defendant-Intervenors filed similar motions to intervene (Docs. # 6, 9). The court held that both motions were timely and satisfied the requirements for permissive intervention, as set forth in Rule 24(b), and the court granted the motions. (Doc. # 53 at 3-4).

         Here, Plaintiffs oppose both motions to intervene (Docs. # 96, 98), arguing (1) that the motions are untimely, and (2) that allowing the Proposed Defendant-Intervenors to intervene would be redundant because their interests are already adequately represented.[1] (Doc. # 103 at 5- 6). The court addresses each argument, in turn.

         A. Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors' Motion to Intervene is Timely

         With regard to Plaintiff's first argument--that the motion to intervene is untimely--the court has already ruled that the intervention motions filed by the Martinez Movants and the Local Government Movants were timely. (Doc. # 53). Admittedly, the instant motions were filed later than those filed by the Martinez and Local Government Defendant-Intervenors, who filed approximately two months after the case was initially filed. The Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors filed their motions fifteen months after the case was initially filed. Therefore, further analysis is warranted. After careful review, however, the court concludes the motions are timely.

         First, the decision to allow a party to permissively intervene is “wholly discretionary with the court.” Worlds v. Dep't of Health and Rehabilitative Servs., 929 F.2d 591, 595 (11th Cir. 1991). Second, “the court [has] yet to take significant action, ”[2] and thus granting the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors' motion would not prejudice Plaintiffs. Georgia v. U.S. Army Corps of Eng'rs, 302 F.3d 1242, 1259-60 (11th Cir. 2002) (reversing the district court's denial of the defendant-intervenor, noting that “intervention did not delay the proceedings and the court had yet to take significant action”). In fact, there is little indication that Plaintiffs would be prejudiced if the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors were allowed to intervene. On the other hand, Movants assert that the prejudice that would befall them if they were denied intervention is substantial.

         In particular, Movants contend that this litigation puts at risk their “possible loss of seats in Congress, impairment of their ability to conduct intrastate redistricting in compliance with their own state constitutions and laws, and the risk to hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds.” (Doc. # 107 at 3). The court finds that the Movants would be prejudiced if not allowed to intervene, and that, because the court has yet to take significant action, the motions to intervene are timely.

         B. Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors' Interests are Not Currently Adequately Represented

         Plaintiffs also argue that granting the Proposed State and Other Defendant-Intervenors' motions would be essentially redundant because their interests are adequately represented. They also contend that granting the motion to intervene would not add value to the litigation ...


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