IV - THIS ACTION IS NOT MOOT
On September 15, 1999, defendants issued their final report, thus completing the mandate of House Joint Resolution 22. While such act marked the conclusion of the meetings and preparation of the report sought to be foreclosed by this action, the issuance of the report has not marked the conclusion of the harm continuing to be done by defendants’ acts, nor has it foreclosed all of the relief sought in the complaint.
The very caption of the pleading states that it is a "COMPLAINT FOR DECLARATORY AND INJUNCTIVE RELIEF." After a lengthy description of the reasons why the conduct of the Task Force was unconstitutional and the issuance of the report was unconstitutional, the Complaint specifically prays both for an injunction against the defendants and for specific declaratory relief, seeking:
1. A declaration that the Resolution is facially unconstitutional and void;
2. A declaration that the conduct of the Task Force is unconstitutional;
The mischief done by the Task Force’s Report was felt immediately upon its publication and is continuing to be felt by the plaintiffs and a broad class of persons and entities subject to the attack upon their faiths by the defendants under the rubric and authority of the State of Maryland.
While a federal court has no authority "to give opinions upon moot questions or abstract propositions, or to declare principles or rules of law which cannot affect the matter in issue in the case before it," Mills v. Green, 159 U.S. 651, 653, 16 S.Ct. 132, 133 (1895), the "availability of [a] possible remedy is sufficient to prevent [a] case from being moot." Church of Scientology of California v. United States, 506 U.S. 9, 13, 113 S.Ct. 447, 450 (1992).
In Church of Scientology of California v. United States, the Church challenged the disclosure of private records under an unlawful subpoena. Despite the compliance with the subpoena by a third party and subsequent copying of the records by the government, the Supreme Court found that a taxpayer still suffers injury by a continued "affront to the taxpayer’s privacy," stating:
A person’s interest in maintaining the privacy of his "papers and effects" is of sufficient importance to merit constitutional protection. ... Even though it is now too late to prevent, or to provide a fully satisfactory remedy for, the invasion of privacy that occurred when the IRS obtained the information on the tapes, a court does have power to effectuate a partial remedy by ordering the Government to destroy or return any and all copies it may have in its possession. The availability of this possible remedy is sufficient to prevent this case from being moot.
506 U.S. at 13.
This ruling has, of course, been followed in every Circuit. See, e.g., United States v. Chrysler Corp., 158 F.3d 1350, 1353 (D.C.Cir. 1998) ("even the availability of a partial remedy is sufficient to prevent a case from being moot ... The question then, is whether this court can grant Chrysler any relief at all."); Flynn v. Sandahl, 58 F.3d 283, 287 (7th Cir. 1995) ("The proper test for mootness on appeal is not whether we may return the parties to the status quo ante, but rather, whether it is still possible to ‘fashion some form of meaningful relief’.")
Declaring the Resolution, the acts of the defendants, and the existing Task Force Report to violate the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs will unquestionably provide some "meaningful relief" to these plaintiffs. It will lift a substantial chill upon their religious practices; it will tend to restore the balance of fairness between the main line religious proponents of the Task Force Resolution and the minority religions attacking the Resolution and the Report; and, it will remove the imprimatur of the State of Maryland from the forbidden inquest and derogation of the Unification Church, the Church of Christ and the other "cults" which are presumed to be the targets of the "cult" inquest.
Moreover, as noted in the Federal Circuit, in deciding whether or not an issue is moot is whether the disputed issue "continues to be justified by a sufficient prospect that the decision will have an impact on the parties." Nasatka v. Delta Scientific Corp., 58 F.3d 1578, 1580 (Fed.Cir. 1992), quoting, Flagstaff Medical Center, Inc., v. Sullivan, 962 F.2d 879, 884 (9th Cir. 1992).
A cursory review of the defendants’ motion to dismiss certainly reflects that a declaratory judgment that their conduct violated the constitutional rights of the plaintiffs will have an impact on them. A ruling will have a substantial impact on the plaintiffs, for if relief is denied, they face the prospect of continuing discrimination and persecution fostered by an antagonistic state government.
The action is not moot.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I - INTRODUCTION
II – STATEMENT OF FACTS
A. Legislative History of the Cult Task Force Resolution
B. The Task Force Report Continued the Violations of Plaintiffs’ Constitutional Rights
III - PLAINTIFFS HAVE STANDING TO BRING THIS ACTION
IV - THIS ACTION IS NOT MOOT
V - THE ELEVENTH AMENDMENT IS NOT A BAR TO THIS ACTION
VI - CONCLUSION