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Palladino v. Corbett

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

March 4, 2014



MARY A. McLAUGHLIN, District Judge.

The plaintiffs in this action, a same-sex couple who were married in Massachusetts and are now residents of Pennsylvania, seek a declaration that both 23 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1704, and Section 2 of the Defense of Marriage Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1738C, are unconstitutional. The plaintiffs also seek a permanent injunction directing the defendants to recognize their Massachusetts marriage, as well as the legal out-of-state marriages of similarly situated same-sex couples.

The Court considers here an application for leave to intervene filed by Mr. James D. Schneller, a resident of the Philadelphia suburbs, representing himself and the Philadelphia Metro Task Force ("Task Force, " and together, "movants"). The Task Force is a "community organization formed to support and encourage upholding of family values and morality in government." Appl. ¶ 2, ECF No. 29. For the reasons that follow, the Court will deny the application.

I. Background[1]

A. Procedural History

The plaintiffs filed their complaint on September 26, 2013. A motion to dismiss by Pennsylvania Governor Thomas Corbett was filed on November 25, 2013. A motion to dismiss by Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane was filed on December 9, 2013. The plaintiffs' opposition to the motions to dismiss, and their motion for summary judgment, were filed on January 13, 2013. The movants filed their application for leave to intervene on January 17, 2013. The plaintiffs filed a response to that motion on February 3, 2013.

B. Application to Intervene[2]

The movants defend the Pennsylvania statute at issue in this case, but oppose the motion to dismiss of Attorney General Kane. See Appl. ¶ 50. The movants allege that the plaintiffs have caused Norristown, Montgomery County, and the Philadelphia metropolitan region to endure "derogation of rights to comfort, and basic necessities like safety and well-being, and derogation of additional rights including rights to defend liberty and property; causing... emotional distress, [and] perception of failure of official duty." Id . ¶ 42.

The movants support their ability to intervene of right by their interests in "liberty, religious expression, freedom from seizure and confiscation, and other basic rights, and regarding property as well." Furthermore, movants state that "[r]everse discrimination" is threatened "amidst a continual omission of religious and moral freedom." Id . ¶ 38.

The movants contend that this case may impair and impede their ability to "protect their interests" and "to enjoy constitutionally guaranteed rights." Id . ¶ 3. Furthermore, the movants' interests differ from those of the defendants and are not likely to be fully protected by the existing parties to this litigation because "recent decisions... indicate a trend to omit or un-prioritize health-, moral- and traditional family-related considerations." Id . ¶¶ 3, 16.

The movants claim that any decision in favor of the plaintiffs would result in "practical impairment" of the movants' ability to protect their interests, "including discrimination on basis of religious beliefs, on basis of moral beliefs, and on basis of ancestry, " as well as age. Id . ¶ 41. The movants are concerned that they would be bound by disposition of this case and any resulting litigation, "certain to affect liberty, equal treatment, and free speech interests." Id . ¶ 43.

The movants seek to supplement the factual evidence in the case beyond what the defendants may present. Id . ¶¶ 5-7. For example, the movants state that they participated in municipal human relations commissions proceedings regarding a new protected class based on "sexual orientation, " and so can assist in a "balanced factual presentation" in this case. Id . ¶ 8. The movants' intervention would "deeply affect the posture and merit" of both the motion for summary judgment and the motion to dismiss by Attorney General Kane. Id . ¶ 15.

The movants also state that no party will be prejudiced by their request to intervene at this stage in the litigation because motions to dismiss are pending, the United States may elect to intervene in this action or before March 14, 2013, and discovery has not yet begun. Id . ¶ 13.

The movants argue that they have standing to intervene because they are "Pennsylvania taxpayers objecting to what would be exorbitant expenditures of commonwealth principal, ... including administrative upheaval requiring voluminous changes to software, policy, and the justice system." Id . ¶ 54.

The plaintiffs argue that the movants lack standing to intervene to defend[3] and the movants' filing does not comply with the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24.[4] Specifically, the plaintiffs argue that the movants have not demonstrated that their interests are not adequately represented by the existing parties. The plaintiffs take no position as to whether the movants should be allowed to participate as amicus curiae. Pls.' Opp'n at 2-5, ECF No. 30.

II. Legal Standard

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24 governs the two types of intervention in pending federal actions. Rule 24(a) provides the basis for intervention of right, while Rule 24(b) provides the basis for permissive intervention.

Although the application to intervene does not cite Rule 24 and makes no explicit argument as to intervention of right or permissive intervention, the Court analyzes the application under Rule 24. Cf. ...

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