Saturday, February 19, 2011

Judge Vinson enters filing order

Judge Roger Vinson on Friday entered an order in response to the United States's motion to clarify the judgment. Specifically, he gave the plaintiffs three business days (until Wednesday) to file a response, and the United States three additional business days (until next Monday, February 28) to file a reply. After that, he will apparently will rule promptly. You can access the order here.

The order seemed reveal just a hint of pique. Specifically, the third sentence of that order reads as follows: "The defendants have now, two and one-half weeks later, filed a motion to 'clarify' that order." Judge Vinson appears slightly bothered that it took DOJ 17 days to determine that it needed clarification. And his use of scare quotes around the word "clarify" bespeaks a bit of sarcasm.

Of course, this may be a somewhat expected response to the DOJ's motion, part of which politely (but nonetheless clearly) criticizes the judge's opinion. Indeed, much of the Motion to Clarify argues that Judge Vinson could not possibly have expected his declaratory judgment to actually have the effect of an injunction (despite what he seemed to write), because if it did, the court would have needed to make a number of other findings, and justify its relief in various additional ways. It was a subtle way of insinuating that the relief ordered -- a declaratory judgment that has the practical effect of an injunction, but lacking any of the legal findings necessary to justify an injunction -- was incoherent, perhaps even amateurish.

In any event, we will have more filings within the week, and Judge Vinson's ultimate response will likely be an interesting read.