United States v. Rainbow
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
THE MIDDLE DISTRICT OF FLORIDA
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
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.
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.
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
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).
For the foregoing reasons the Complaint in this matter should be dismissed,
Respectfully submitted this 15th day of March, 1996,
William Thomas, Defendant Intervenor, pro se
P.O. Box 27217
Washington, D.C. 20038
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