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Smith v. Judges

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

March 23, 2017

THOMAS ED SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
JUDGES, and or arctects of restraining against Pres Trump Travel band, Defendants

          MEMORANDUM OF DECISION DENYING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AND MOTION FOR TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER [DKTS. 2, 3]

          Hon. Vanessa L. Bryant United States District Judge

         On March 17, 2017, Plaintiff Thomas Ed Smith (“Plaintiff”) filed a Complaint against Defendants identified as “Judges and or arctects [sic] of restraining order against Pres [sic] Trump Travel Band [sic], ” [Dkt. 1 (Compl.), at 1]. Plaintiff's Complaint is on a complaint form which calls for a plaintiff to name each defendant and list their addresses. This portion of the form is blank. Id. at 1-2. Next, the form calls for a plaintiff to state the jurisdictional basis for the action. This section is also blank. Id. at 2. The next section calls for a plaintiff to state the nature of the complaint and it too is blank. Id. at 2-3. The following section calls for a plaintiff to state the nature of the action and here Plaintiff writes, “see attached.” Id. at 3. In the request for relief section of the form Plaintiff writes, “Temporary restraining to prevent states from blocking Pres [sic] Trumps [sic] Travel Band [sic] unless they can prove that refugees are properly vetted with reasonable dough bond.” [Id.at 4]. Finally, Plaintiff requests a jury trial. Id. Plaintiff alleges no facts regarding the judges and or “arctects” [sic] he names as Defendants and instead requests an order of prospective relief, restraining, presumably all of the fifty states, from seeking an order to restrain the enforcement of President Trump's Travel Ban.

         On the same day, Plaintiff filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis, [Dkt. 2 (Mot. IFP)] and a Motion for Temporary Restraining Order (“TRO”), [Dkt. 3 (Mot. TRO)]. Plaintiff did not file a financial affidavit and thus has not shown that he is entitled to in forma pauperis status. His application is therefore denied without prejudice because the Court has no factual basis to rule in his favor.

         The TRO Motion provides in relevant part the following information. First, Plaintiff addresses the basis for filing the TRO, and presumably by like measure the Complaint. The Court draws this assumption from the facts that Plaintiff does not state the factual basis for his complaint, he filed the TRO Motion on the same day as the complaint, and the Clerk of the Court correctly filed the documents separately. As they were filed together, the Court assumes for purposes of this decision that Plaintiff considered the TRO Motion to have been attached to his Complaint. The TRO Motion states:

I request [the TRO] because I fear for my life and the life of my family member[s] who live up and down the east coast and California. When refugees come in and settle they can then move about as they feel. I believe that at this time our country has a problem and cannot properly vet them.

[Dkt. 3, at 1]. Second, Plaintiff expresses a desire for a hearing “so the people who enforced the restraining order against the travel band [sic] can show beyond dout [sic] that these people are properly [sic] and only have good intentions for our country.” Id. Third, in support of this contention Plaintiff states, “I trust the President when he say [sic] this is not being done, ” id., and that he “believe[s] they have an agenda that dose [sic] not take all Americans in consideration.” Id. at 2.

         I. Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff does not state the jurisdictional basis for his case. The Court will presume without deciding that it has federal question jurisdiction because the case raises questions of the relative power of the President of the United States and either the powers of Article III judges or of the States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

         II. Standing

         Before addressing the merits of Plaintiff's Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order, the Court must first solve the issue of standing. Under Article III, section 2 of the Constitution, a federal court is limited to jurisdiction over “Cases” and “Controversies.” Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 549 U.S. 497, 516 (2007). The doctrine of standing is “an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III.” Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992); see Ziemba v. Rell, 409 F.3d 553, 555 (2d Cir. 2005) (affirming district court's denial of temporary restraining order as plaintiff failed to show “Article III standing”); Washington v. Trump, 847 F.3d 1151, 1159 (9th Cir. 2017) (ruling that States had standing to sue as they sufficiently “alleged harms to their proprietary interests traceable to the Executive Order” 13769, “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”). “‘[T]he gist of the question of standing' is whether petitioners have ‘such a personal stake in the outcome of the controversy as to assure that concrete adverseness which sharpens the presentation of issues upon which the court so largely depends for illumination.” Massachusetts v. E.P.A., 549 U.S. at 517 (quoting Baker v. Carr, 369 U.S. 186, 204 (1962)). A plaintiff bears the burden to demonstrate standing for the federal court to have jurisdiction over the case. See id., 549 U.S. at 536.

         Proper standing requires a three-part showing. First, Plaintiff must show he “suffered an injury in fact-an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical.” Ziemba v. Rell, 409 F.3d at 554 (quoting Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 560). Second, Plaintiff must establish a “causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of-the injury has to be fairly . . . trace[able] to the challenged action of the defendant, and not . . . th[e] result [of] the independent action of some third party not before the court.” Id. Third, “it must be likely, as opposed to merely speculative, ” that a decision in the plaintiff's favor will redress the injury. Id.

         While the Court does not question the sincerity of Plaintiff's fears, Plaintiff's Complaint fails to satisfy any of the constitutional requirements for standing as it merely requests relief by way of a temporary restraining order “to prevent states from blocking Pres Trumps [sic] Travel Band [sic] unless they can prove that refugees are properly vetted with beond [sic] reasonable dout [sic].” [Dkt. 1, at 4]. There appears to be no injury, but rather a request for the Court to enjoin states across the country from participating in an action that is actively and properly being litigated before other federal judges. See Washington v. Trump, 847 F.3d at 1161-62 (“Within our system, it is the role of the judiciary to interpret the law, a duty that will sometimes require ‘[r]esolution of litigation challenging the constitutional authority of one of the three branches.'”) (quoting Zivotofsky ex rel. Zivotofsky v. Clinton, 566 U.S. 189, 196 (2012)). Assuming the Complaint incorporates the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, Plaintiff's only purported injury appears to be his fear of future harm against his family and him, which he attributes to the fact that “[w]hen refugees come in [the United States] and settle they can then move about or as they feel” and “at this time our country has a problem and cannot properly vet them.” [Dkt. 3, at 1]. Plaintiff provides no additional information other than stating his fear.

         Plaintiff's expression of fear is not a sufficient injury in fact as it is purely speculative, conjectural, and hypothetical. He states no concrete or objective reasons why he could be harmed in the future. See Ziemba v. Rell, 409 F.3d at 554. As the Plaintiff has not alleged any injury, much less imminent harm, the case runs the risk that “no injury would have occurred at all.” See Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. at 564 n.2. Therefore, the Court holds that Plaintiff lacks standing and the Court does not have the jurisdiction to address the merits of this case.

         Plaintiff's interests in the issues raised in this action are no greater than those of any other person present in the country. The Court does, however, note that Plaintiff's interests are coterminous with those of the President; and the President's interests are being advanced by the Justice ...


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