United States v. Rainbow


UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
JACKSONVILLE DIVISION

UNITED STATES OF AMERICA             
                                                    Civil Action
           v.                                       Case Number 96- 183 

THE RAINBOW FAMILY, et al.

MOTION TO DISMISS

Defendant intervener, William Thomas, hereby moves, pursuant to Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Article III, Sec. 2 of the Constitution, and because plaintiff lacks standing, that the Complaint in this matter be dismissed, with prejudice.

INTRODUCTION

On or about February 15, 1996 plaintiff filed suit seeking "a declaratory judgment that United States Department of Agriculture regulations concerning noncommercial group uses of the national forests, are valid under the United States constitution. Plaintiff also seeks an injunction against the Defendants from violating the regulations at issue." Complaint, 1.

RULE 23

Although, "(p)laintiff brings this suit against the Rainbow Family as a defendant class" (Complaint, 6),. plaintiff only purports.

"On information and belief, the individual defendants are members of the Rainbow Family (also known as, inter alia, the Rainbow Nation. the Rainbow Family of Living Light, and the Gathering of Tribes, the Rainbow Family Vision Council, the Rainbow Family Tribal Council, and the Rainbow Family Scout Council), a loosely-knit organization of persons who gather together in the national forests to Celebrate peace and harmony with nature and with one another." Complaint, 4.

The "named" defendants are not typical of any class; and represent only themselves. As individuals, they can not protect the interests of the named "Defendant Class." On the contrary, plaintiff only offers the "Rainbow Guide 1995, Summer Edition." Complaint, 22 and Attachment 1.

Plaintiff does not specify that the "Rainbow Guide 1995, Summer Edition" -- the only purported link between the Complaint, "the class," and reality, -- lists any of the "named defendants." As plaintiff has gone to the trouble of affixing the "Rainbow Guide 1995, Summer Edition," to the Complaint, at a minimum, plaintiff should have taken the obvious step of serving the members of the purported class.

At worst, the Complaint alleges, that the named defendants were part of a group "who gather(ed) together in the national forests to celebrate peace and harmony with nature and with one another." Assuming that allegation is true, and construing it in a light most favorable to plaintiff, any personnel association of the named defendants is at best a connection of various spiritual beliefs subject to protection under the Freedom of Religion Act of 1993.

While it is certainly true that "information and belief" might lead one to the good faith conclusion that the moon is made of cream cheese, Rule 23 requires that "representative parties will fairly and adequately protect the interests of the class." The Complaint is affixed to the "Rainbow Family Guide 1995, Summer Edition," however, it offers no support for an assumption that the "named defendants" are members of the asserted "Rainbow Family class," nor that the named defendants would fairly or adequately protect the interests of "The Rainbow Family. a/k/a Rainbow Nation, aka Rainbow Family of Living Light, a/k/a Gathering of Tribes, the Rainbow Family Vision Council, the Rainbow Family Tribal Council, the Rainbow Family Council, (or) unknown Members"

PLAINTIFF LACKS STANDING TO BRING THIS COMPLAINT

This honorable Court lacks jurisdiction because whatever controversy may have existed is now moot.

Amazingly, perhaps, in its brief Factual Background section ( 16 -23) the Complaint bemoans nothing more than the facts that (1) between approximately February 2 - 6, 1996, U.S. Forest Ranger Keith Lawrence "met with" various individuals, "including one named Jose," (2) "provided (an unspecified number of) individual(s) with a printed notice, stating that non commercial activities involving more than 75 people require a permit, (3) a few additional notices were posted at various bathroom facilities, (4) there were more than 75 people in Osceola National Forest, "on or abound February 5 to February 6, 1996," (5) "the Rainbow Family (had not) given any indication that (a permit) application w(ould) be filed, (6) "(t)he 'Rainbow Guide for 1995, summer Edition' indicates that the Forest Service group use regulations are unconstitutional under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution." See, generally, Complaint, 16 -23.

This is just not a "complaint" that affords any judicial remedy.

"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. ----, ----, 112 S.Ct. 2130, 2136, 119 L.Ed.2d 351 (1992), which itself "defines with respect to the Judicial Branch the idea of separation of powers on which the Federal Government is founded," Allen v. Wright, 468 U.S. 737, 750, 104 S.Ct. 3315, 3324, 82 L.Ed.2d 556 (1984). It has been established by a long line of cases that a party seeking to invoke a federal court's *2302 jurisdiction must demonstrate three things: (1) "injury in fact," by which we mean an invasion of a legally protected interest that is "(a) concrete and particularized, and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical," Lujan, supra, 504 U.S., at ----, 112 S.Ct., at 2136 (citations, footnote, and internal quotation marks omitted); (2) a causal relationship between the injury and the challenged conduct, by which we mean that the injury "fairly can be traced to the challenged action of the defendant," and has not resulted "from the independent action of some third party not before the court," Simon v. Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org., 426 U.S. 26, 41-42, 96 S.Ct. 1917, 1926, 48 L.Ed.2d 450 (1976); and (3) a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision, by which we mean that the "prospect of obtaining relief from the injury as a result of a favorable ruling" is not "too speculative," Allen v. Wright, supra, 468 U.S., at 752, 104 S.Ct., at 3325. These elements are the "irreducible minimum," Valley Forge Christian College v. Americans United for Separation of Church and State, Inc., 454 U.S. 464, 472, 102 S.Ct. 752, 758, 70 L.Ed.2d 700 (1982), required by the Constitution." Northeastern Florida Chapter of the Associated General Contractors of America v.City of Jacksonville, Florida, et al.,113 S.CT. 2297, 2301 (1993).

Plaintiff's only grievance is that somebody didn't feel that the regulations were constitutionally valid. So, plaintiff decided to ask this Court to declare that their regulations are "constitutionally valid." This Court just should not waste it's precious time resolving a "yes it is/no it isn't" argument of this calibre.

Here, where plaintiff hasn't offered so much "conjectural or hypothetical" (with the possible exception of hurt feelings) injury, much less a "causal relationship between" any "concrete and particularized" injury, it is obvious that plaintiff is merely pestering this honorable Court for a declaration of the variety which the Circuit has recently indicated is inappropriate.

"In this case, because no legal remedies are available to plaintiffs a verdict in their favor would do little more than provide them with emotional satisfaction. Such satisfaction is not an appropriate remedy under these circumstances. See also Ashcroft v. Mattis, 431 U.S. 171, 172-73, 97 S.Ct. 1739, 1740, 52 L.Ed.2d 219 (1977) (per curiam) (holding that a claim is moot when the primary interest is the emotional satisfaction from a favorable ruling)." Lankford; et al. v. City of Hobart; et. al, 73 F.3d 283, 288 (1996).

ANY ISSUES PLAINTIFF MAY HAVE IMAGINED ARE MOOT

We need not address the merits of plaintiff claims because a claim is moot when the controversy no longer touches "the legal relations of parties having adverse legal interests' in the outcome of the case. DeFunis v. Odegaard, 416 U.S. 312, 317, 94 S.Ct. 1704, 1706, 40 L.Ed.2d 164 (1974) (per curiam)." Lankford; et al. v. City of Hobart; et. al, 73 F.3D 283, 288. ..

The complaint seeks relief for a gathering which allegedly began "in approximately the last week of January or the first week of February, 1996," and, was purported "to run through the week of February 26. 1996. Complaint paragraph, 16.

Plaintiff does not assert that whatever happened ended over two weeks ago. Further, the complaint does not allege that a "gathering" ever before occurred in the Osceola National Forest, nor does it contain a wispy indication that any similar "gathering" is likely ever to happen there again. Yet, in sum, the plaintiff seeks an order to enjoin the "Rainbow Family" from "intentionally and knowingly failing to apply for a special use authorization under 36 C.F.R. 251" Complaint, 25, COUNT I (the only Count).

These distinctions are particularly significant in a case like this, where plaintiff is seeking a declaration that "a ... regulations concerning noncommercial group uses of the national forests, are valid under the United States Constitution." Consistently over the years, the Supreme Court has adhered to a strict rule regarding decisions on constitutional issues. "(C)onstitutional issues affecting legislation will not be determined ... in broader terms than are required by the precise facts to which the ruling is to be applied. Rescue Army v. Municipal Court, 331 U.S. 549, 569 (1947). the Court will not pass upon the constitutionality of legislation ... it is necessary to do so to preserve the rights of the parties" Coffman v. Breeze, 323 U.S. 316, 324-25 (1945). Courts are "bound by two rules, to which it has rigidly adhered, one, never to anticipate a question of constitutional law in advance of the necessity of deciding it; the other never to formulate a rule of constitutional law broader than is required by the precise facts to which it is applied." New York and Philadelphis S.S. Co. v. Commissioners of Emigration, 113 U.S. 33, 39 (1885).

Hence, since there is no "live controversy," the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to render what, on either the injunctive or the declaratory relief sought, would amount to an advisory opinion. See, Los Angeles v. Davis, 440 U.S. 625, 59 L. Ed. 2d 642, 99 S. Ct. 1379 (1979); Reeve Aleutian Airways, Inc. v. United States, 281 U.S. App. D.C. 306, 889 F.2d 1139,1142-43 (D.C. Cir. 1989).

CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons the Complaint in this matter should be dismissed, with prejudice.

Respectfully submitted this 15th day of March, 1996,

_____________________________
William Thomas, Defendant Intervenor, pro se
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
202-462-0757


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