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January 9 Filing:
On January 9, Plaintiffs’ counsel filed a partial motion for summary judgment in Grand Staircase Escalante Partners v. Trump arguing that the President lacks constitutional or statutory authority to revoke or reduce a national monument. The filing is the first step in, what counsel hopes is, the final round of briefing necessary to resolve the case. The motion is partial because it does not seek relief on Plaintiffs’ claims that the specific 2017 Proclamation violated the Antiquities Act or the Administrative Procedure Act (Counts IV and V in November’s Amended Complaint); these claims were omitted because the Court signaled that deciding the ‘authority question’ may be dispositive and render the ‘specific Proclamation questions’ moot.
How We Got Here:
Despite suing the Trump Administration in December 2017, and already filing for partial summary judgment in January 2018, the case essentially rebooted on September 30, 2019 when the Court denied the Government’s Motion to Dismiss and asked Plaintiffs to submit an amended complaint. The Court wanted more information on the Plaintiffs’ standing, which is a legal rule that requires plaintiffs in a lawsuit to show they’ve been sufficiently harmed by the defendant’s action. Plaintiffs submitted an Amended Complaint on November 7, 2019. Because the Amended Complaint could include harms Plaintiffs suffered up until the very day of filing, the Amended Complaint’s standing section is much more robust. Shortly after Plaintiffs filed the Amended Complaint, the Court indicated that it will simultaneously consider cross-motions for summary judgment filed by each side, in lieu of considering a second Motion to Dismiss.
Where We Are Going:
Plaintiffs’ and Defendants’ counsel agreed to a briefing schedule for consideration of the cross-motions for summary judgment in late December, and the Court approved that schedule on January 7, 2020. That schedule is listed below:
Plaintiffs’ motions for partial summary judgment – January 9, 2020
Defendants’ oppositions to the motions for partial summary judgment, combined with Defendants’ cross-motions for partial summary judgment – February 12, 2020
Intervenors’ brief(s) in support of Defendants’ motions – February 27, 2020
Plaintiffs’ replies in support of partial summary judgment, combined with Plaintiffs’ oppositions to Defendants’ cross-motions for partial summary judgment and Intervenors’ brief(s) – March 20, 2020
Defendants’ replies in support of their motions for partial summary judgment – April 17, 2020
Intervenors’ replies in support of Defendants’ motions – May 4, 2020
The Court does not have a deadline to issue a decision on the ‘authority question’ once this round of briefing concludes, but the Court expressly agreed to this simultaneous briefing in the interest of reaching an expedited decision. Two important caveats accompany this schedule. First, this briefing schedule does not prevent Plaintiffs from requesting any kind of interim relief — so Plaintiffs can, if necessary, still file for a preliminary injunction after the release of the final Management Plan. Second, in the event of an adverse decision, Plaintiffs can still litigate the ‘specific Proclamation questions’ omitted in this round of briefing.