Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, Civil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).

CourtUnited States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
Writing for the CourtRicardo M. Urbina
Citation276 F.Supp.2d 82
Docket NumberCivil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).
Decision Date14 August 2003
PartiesCHAPLAINCY OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCHES et al., Plaintiffs, v. Hansford T. JOHNSON, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants. Robert H. Adair et al., Plaintiffs, v. Hansford T. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
276 F.Supp.2d 82
CHAPLAINCY OF FULL GOSPEL CHURCHES et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Hansford T. JOHNSON, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
Robert H. Adair et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
Hansford T. Johnson, Acting Secretary of the Navy, et al., Defendants.
Civil Action Nos. 99-2945 (RMU), 00-0566(RMU).
United States District Court, District of Columbia.
August 14, 2003.

Arthur A. Schulcz, Sr., Vienna, VA, for plaintiff.

Michael Q. Hyde, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Washington, DC, for defendant.

Page 83

MEMORANDUM ORDER

RICARDO M. URBINA, District Judge.


DENYING THE PLAINTIFFS' PETITION FOR A WRIT OF MANDAMUS

This class action comes before the court on the plaintiffs' petition for a writ of mandamus and the defendants' motion to strike or, in the alternative, to dismiss that petition. The plaintiffs, current and former Navy chaplains, bring suit against the Secretary of the Navy ("the Secretary"), other Navy officials, and the Navy alleging that the Navy's policies and practices — including its chaplain accession and promotion process — favor certain religious denominations over others in violation of the First and Fifth Amendments to the Constitution.1

On November 25, 2002, the plaintiffs filed a petition for a writ of mandamus. The impetus for the petition is the allegedly illegal recall to active duty of Commander John Lyle ("CDR Lyle"), a liturgical (Catholic) Naval Reserve chaplain. Pls.' Pet. for a Writ of Mandamus ("Pls.' Pet.") at 2. The plaintiffs assert that according to the Navy's own regulations, CDR Lyle was not qualified for the active-duty position to which the Navy assigned him. Id. at 4-14. In recalling CDR Lyle, therefore, the defendants allegedly engaged in a deliberate conspiracy — involving the use of improper accounting codes to, inter alia, disguise CDR Lyle as a "flight surgeon" — to circumvent Navy regulations and constitutional protections. Id. As a result of this alleged conspiracy, the plaintiffs contend that they and non-Catholic chaplains suffered prejudice in the form of lost opportunities for promotion. Id. at 4-5, 14. Accordingly, the plaintiffs ask the court to direct the Secretary to (1) follow Navy regulations concerning the recall of Naval Reserve chaplains for active duty; (2) comply with government accounting, expenditure and financial reporting standards; (3) investigate waste, fraud and abuse arising from the Secretary's alleged violations of Navy regulations; and (4) recoup the funds the Secretary allegedly wasted as a result of these alleged violations. Id. at 1.

In response to the plaintiffs' petition, the defendants filed a motion to strike or, in the alternative, to dismiss that raises several jurisdictional challenges. First, the defendants claim that the petition amounts to an unauthorized "pleading" that the court should strike because neither the Adair nor the Chaplaincy complaints include the petition's allegations. Defs.' Mot. to Strike ("Defs.' Mot.") at 6-10 (citing FED.R.CIV.P. 12(f)). Second, the defendants assert that this court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction because the plaintiffs' petition asks the court to compel the defendants to perform actions that are discretionary rather than ministerial in nature. Id. at 10-13. Finally, the defendants claim that the plaintiffs lack standing to seek mandamus relief...

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4 practice notes
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...375 F.3d at 1169, cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1152, 125 S.Ct. 1343, 161 L.Ed.2d 116 (2005); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82 (D.D.C.2003); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79 (D.D.C.2003); Adair v. Johnson, 216 F.R.D. 183 (D.D.C. 2003); ......
  • West v. Jackson, Civil Action No. 07-727 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 10, 2008
    ...is an Page 22 extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003) (citing Haneke v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 535 F.2d 1291, 1296 (D.C.Cir.1976)). In order to obtain mandamus relie......
  • West v. Spellings, Civil Action No. 06-1012 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 29, 2007
    ...mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003) (citing Haneke v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 535 F.2d 1291, 1296 (D.C.Cir.1976)) (quotation marks In order to obta......
  • James v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Civil Action No. 06-562(RMC).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 3, 2008
    ...mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003). District courts "have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of ......
4 cases
  • Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. England, No. 05-5143.
    • United States
    • United States Courts of Appeals. United States Court of Appeals (District of Columbia)
    • July 7, 2006
    ...375 F.3d at 1169, cert. denied, 543 U.S. 1152, 125 S.Ct. 1343, 161 L.Ed.2d 116 (2005); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82 (D.D.C.2003); Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 79 (D.D.C.2003); Adair v. Johnson, 216 F.R.D. 183 (D.D.C. 2003); ......
  • West v. Jackson, Civil Action No. 07-727 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 10, 2008
    ...is an Page 22 extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003) (citing Haneke v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 535 F.2d 1291, 1296 (D.C.Cir.1976)). In order to obtain mandamus relie......
  • West v. Spellings, Civil Action No. 06-1012 (RMC).
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. United States District Court (Columbia)
    • March 29, 2007
    ...mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003) (citing Haneke v. Sec'y of Health, Educ. & Welfare, 535 F.2d 1291, 1296 (D.C.Cir.1976)) (quotation marks In order to obta......
  • James v. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Civil Action No. 06-562(RMC).
    • United States
    • U.S. District Court — District of Columbia
    • March 3, 2008
    ...mandamus is an extraordinary remedy to be utilized only under exceptional circumstances. Chaplaincy of Full Gospel Churches v. Johnson, 276 F.Supp.2d 82, 83 (D.D.C.2003). District courts "have original jurisdiction of any action in the nature of mandamus to compel an officer or employee of ......

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