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I just reviewed the complaint that Rep. Paul Mitchell filed against @GovWhitmer in federal court (…). It's super-weak in general, but some of the claims are just frivolous (something I don't say lightly).
The first count alleges that the Governor has violated the Republican Guarantee Clause of the US Constitution. But the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that the Guarantee Clause isn't justiciable -- meaning that it can't be the basis for a lawsuit.
Indeed, the Court most recently held that the Guarantee Clause isn't justiciable *just last year*, in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts:…
Counts two through four allege Privileges or Immunities Clause and Due Process Clause violations that aren't totally frivolous, but they're weak on the merits. But I want to focus on the frivolous ones, so let me move on.
Count 5 alleges that Gov. Whitmer's orders are void for vagueness under the federal and state constitutions, in part because the state posted an FAQ to explain what the orders mean. How that makes the orders vague, rather than alleviating any residual uncertainty, is beyond me.
And also: the order violates the state constitution? This is federal court. Under Pennhurst, the Eleventh Amendment bars federal courts from enjoining state officials to comply with state law.…
Counts 6, 7, 8, and 9 have the same problem. They claim that the orders violate state law on various grounds. These counts are directly barred by Pennhurst.
But wait, you say (assuming you read closely in your fed courts class) -- Pennhurst is about injunctive relief. These counts seek *declaratory* relief. Isn't that different? (Stay tuned for the answer in the next tweet.)
Nice try, but no. The Sixth Circuit has repeatedly explained that Pennhurst bars federal courts from entertaining any state-law claim against state officials in their official capacity, regardless of the relief requested. And this is an official capacity suit.
So 5 and a half of the counts in the 9-count complaint are counts that the court obviously lacks jurisdiction to entertain. The rest of the complaint is weak, but these counts are just frivolous.
I don't know what (legal, as opposed to political or public relations) benefit anyone thinks they get by including claims that are clearly outside of the jurisdiction of the court -- and if I were a judge, I'd be pretty darned impatient with a lawyer who did that.
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