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Protectmarriage.Com v. Bowen

June 23, 2009

PROTECTMARRIAGE.COM, ET AL., PLAINTIFFS,
v.
DEBRA BOWEN, ET AL., DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Morrison C. England, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiffs, each California committees established to support the passage of Proposition 8, which amended the California Constitution to define marriage as existing only between a man and a woman, filed the current action challenging California's statutory requirement that they disclose the names and other personal information of their contributors. Presently before the Court is the State Defendants' Motion Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) to Deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Summary Judgment or, in the alternative, to Continue the Hearing Date of Plaintiffs' Motion ("Rule 56(f) Motion"). For the following reasons, State Defendants' Motion is granted.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs initiated this action on January 7, 2009, and subsequently moved for a preliminary injunction, which this Court denied. On May 18, 2009, the Court issued a Pretrial Scheduling Order ("PTSO") ordering discovery to be completed not later than May 14, 2010, disclosure of expert witnesses to occur not later than July 14, 2010, and all dispositive motions to be heard not later than September 16, 2010.

On June 3, 2009, Plaintiffs filed a Motion for Summary Judgment ("MSJ"), which bears striking similarity to their original preliminary injunction motion and argues that California's compelled disclosure requirements are unconstitutional both facially and as-applied. State Defendants responded on June 5, 2009, by filing the instant Rule 56(f) Motion, and the Court granted their simultaneous request to hear that Motion on shortened time. The Department of Elections for the City and County of San Francisco, as well as Dennis J. Herrera, the City Attorney for the City and County of San Francisco, subsequently joined in the Motion. Defendant Dean C. Logan, Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk, filed a statement taking no position on the instant Motion, and Defendant Jan Scully filed a Statement of Non-Opposition.

STANDARD

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(a) permits a party to file a Motion for Summary Judgment "any time after: (1) 20 days have passed from commencement of the action; or (2) the opposing party serves a motion for summary judgment." Nevertheless, pursuant to Rule 56(f):

If a party opposing the motion shows by affidavit that, for specified reasons, it cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition, the court may:

(1) deny the motion;

(2) order a continuance to enable affidavits to be obtained, depositions to be taken, or other discovery to be undertaken; or

(3) issue any other just order.

"'Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(f) provides a device for litigants to avoid summary judgment when they have not had sufficient time to develop affirmative evidence.'" Burlington Northern Santa Fe R. Co. v. Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of Fort Peck, 323 F.3d 767, 773 (9th Cir. 2003), quoting United States v. Kitsap Physicians Serv., 314 F.3d 995, 1000 (9th Cir. 2002). "The cases construing Rule 56(f) suggest that the denial of a Rule 56(f) application is generally disfavored where the party opposing summary judgment makes (a) a timely application which

(b) specifically identifies (c) relevant information, (d) where there is some basis for believing that the information sought actually exists. Summary denial is especially inappropriate where the material sought is also the subject of outstanding discovery requests." VISA Intern. Service Ass'n v. Bankcard Holders of America, 784 F.2d 1472, 1475 (9th Cir. 1986).

"Where...a summary judgment motion is filed so early in the litigation, before a party has had any realistic opportunity to pursue discovery relating to its theory of the case, district courts should grant any Rule 56(f) ...


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