United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division
COMMON CAUSE INDIANA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF COLORED PEOPLE by its Greater Indianapolis Branch 3053 and on behalf of its individual members, DORIS A MCDOUGAL, JOHN WINDLE, Plaintiffs,
MARION COUNTY ELECTION BOARD, MYRA A ELDRIDGE in her official capacity as a member of the Marion County Election Board, BRYCE CARPENTER in his official capacity as a member of the Marion County Election Board, MICHAEL SOLARI in his official capacities as members of the Marion County Election Board, Defendants.
ORDER ON MOTION FOR INDICATIVE RULING ON MOTION TO
VACATE CONSENT DECREE FOR MOOTNESS (DKT. 106)
EVANS BARKER, JUDGE
currently lack jurisdiction, Griggs v. Provident Consumer
Discount Co., 459 U.S. 56, 58 (1982), over this voting
rights case in view of the State of Indiana's pending
appeal, taken as intervenor-defendant, Dkt. 96, from our
approval and entry of a final judgment by consent. Dkt. 94.
The original parties now seek an indicative ruling that we
would vacate the consent decree and dismiss the case upon
proper motion because the case is now moot. Dkt. 106.
See Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1. The motion for an
indicative ruling is granted. For the reasons given below, we
would deny a motion to vacate for mootness.
April 25, 2018, we entered a preliminary injunction requiring
Defendants to establish two satellite voting locations for
early in-person voting in Marion County, Indiana,
see Ind. Code §§ 3-11-10-26(a)(2),
26.3(a), for use in the November 2018 general election, Dkt.
77, for reasons we explained at length. Dkt. 76 (reported at
Common Cause Ind. v. Marion Cty. Election Bd., 311
F.Supp.3d 949 (S.D. Ind. 2018)). As relevant here, we
concluded that Plaintiffs had shown a fair likelihood of
success on their claim that Defendants had impermissibly
burdened the voting rights of Marion County voters-based
solely on partisan considerations and without any justifying
legitimate interest-by restricting the availability of early
in-person voting to one location in Marion County. 311
F.Supp.3d at 975. On July 10, 2018, we granted the
parties' joint motion to approve a tendered consent
decree requiring Defendants to maintain two satellite voting
locations in Marion County for each primary election and five
for each general election. Dkt. 86. We entered the consent
decree as our final judgment in the case on August 9, 2018.
December 3, 2018, the Indianapolis-Marion County City-County
Council, Marion County's legislative body, adopted
Defendants' plan designating Marion County a “vote
center county.” See Ind. Code §
3-11-18.1-13; Dkt. 106 Ex. C, at 2. That plan provides in
part that Defendants will maintain two satellite voting
locations for each primary election and six for each general
election. Dkt. 106 Ex. B, at 14. It can be amended only by
Defendants' unanimous vote. Ind. Code §
original parties now contend that these developments have
mooted the case. They seek an indicative ruling to that
effect. Dkt. 106.
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 62.1 provides,
If a timely motion is made for relief that the court lacks
authority to grant because of an appeal that has been
docketed and is pending, the court may defer considering
the motion; deny the motion; or state either that it would
grant the motion if the court of appeals remands for that
purpose or that the motion raises a substantial issue.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 62.1(a) (internal subdivisions omitted).
Though the rule does not expressly authorize them, courts
generally entertain motions under the rule which do not
actually seek relief but instead request an indicative ruling
in terms. In such cases,
[t]he . . . procedure has . . . four steps. First, the
appealing parties must be motivated by some concern or issue
and specifically ask for an indicative ruling. Second, the
District Court is then obliged to indicate its view of the
request. If the request is denied, that ends the inquiry. If
the District Court is inclined to grant the request for an
indicative ruling, the third step is to tell the parties and
the Circuit Court of its intent. Finally, it is up to the
Circuit Court to decide whether it will send the case back to
the District Court and empower the lower court to rule.
Defenders of Wildlife v. Salazar, 776 F.Supp.2d
1178, 1182 (D. Mont. 2011).
facilitate the appellate litigation, we grant the
parties' request for an indicative ruling. We consider
therefore whether we would grant a motion properly brought
for relief from judgment under Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure 60(b)(6) (permitting vacatur for “any other
reason that justifies relief” in addition to those
spelled out in rule) and 12(h)(3) (requiring dismissal of
action if court “at any time” determines it lacks
jurisdiction) for the reasons given by the parties. We
conclude we would not.
III of the Constitution extends federal jurisdiction only to
live cases and controversies. Ciarpaglini v.
Norwood, 817 F.3d 541, 544 (7th Cir. 2016) (citing
Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, 577 U.S.-, 136 S.Ct.
663, 669 (2016)). A once-live case that has ...