Texas v. United States, Civil Action No. 7:15–cv–00056–O.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
Writing for the CourtREED O'CONNOR, District Judge.
Citation95 F.Supp.3d 965
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 7:15–cv–00056–O.
Decision Date26 March 2015
PartiesState of TEXAS, State of Arkansas, State of Louisiana, and State of Nebraska, Plaintiffs, v. UNITED STATES of America, United States Department of Labor, and Thomas E. Perez, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of Labor, Defendants.

95 F.Supp.3d 965

State of TEXAS, State of Arkansas, State of Louisiana, and State of Nebraska, Plaintiffs
v.
UNITED STATES of America, United States Department of Labor, and Thomas E. Perez, in his Official Capacity as Secretary of Labor, Defendants.

Civil Action No. 7:15–cv–00056–O.

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Wichita Falls Division.

Signed March 26, 2015.


95 F.Supp.3d 969

William T. Deane, Michael P. Murphy, Office of the Texas Attorney General, Austin, TX, for Plaintiffs.

James C. Luh, Washington, DC, for Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

REED O'CONNOR, District Judge.

Before the Court are Plaintiff State of Texas's Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction/Stay of Administrative Proceedings (ECF No. 1), filed March 18, 2015; Defendants' Opposition to Plaintiff's Application for a Preliminary Injunction (ECF No. 11), filed March 19, 2015; Texas's Motion for Hearing on Application for a Temporary Restraining Order (ECF No. 12), filed March 24, 2015; Defendants' Response to Plaintiff's Motion for a Hearing (ECF No. 13), filed March 24, 2015; State of Texas, State of Arkansas, State of Louisiana, and State of Nebraska's (collectively “Plaintiffs” or “Plaintiff States”) Amended Complaint for Declaratory and Injunctive Relief and Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction/Stay of Administrative Proceedings (ECF No. 14), filed March 25, 2015; and Plaintiffs' Reply in Support of Application for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction/Stay of Administrative Proceedings (ECF No. 15), filed March 25,

95 F.Supp.3d 970

2015.1 Having considered the motions, related briefing, pleadings, and applicable law, the Court finds that Plaintiffs' application for a preliminary injunction should be and is hereby GRANTED.

I. BACKGROUND

This is an action for declaratory and injunctive relief regarding the United States Department of Labor's (“Department”) recently promulgated final rule defining “spouse” (“Final Rule”) under the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), 29 U.S.C. § 2611. Am. Compl. 1–2, ECF No. 14. On March 25, 2015, Plaintiff State of Texas amended its Complaint to add State of Arkansas, State of Louisiana, and State of Nebraska as plaintiffs. Am. Compl. 1–3, ECF No. 14.2 Collectively, Plaintiffs seek a temporary restraining order3 and a preliminary injunction, under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, to enjoin and stay the application of the Final Rule, which is codified as 29 C.F.R. Part 825 and becomes effective on March 27, 2015. Am. Compl. 20–21, ECF No. 14. Alternatively, Plaintiffs seek a stay of administrative proceedings under the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”), 5 U.S.C. § 705. Id.

A. FMLA Rulemaking

The FMLA defines “spouse” as “a husband or wife, as the case may be.” 29 U.S.C. § 2611(13). In 1993, the Department's Interim Final Rule defined “spouse” as “a husband or wife as defined or recognized under state law for purposes of marriage in states where it is recognized.” 58 Fed.Reg. 31817, 31835 (June 4, 1993). The 1995 Final Rule clarified that the law of the State where the employee resides would control for the purpose of determining eligibility for FMLA spousal leave. 80 Fed.Reg. 9990 (Feb. 25, 2015).

On June 27, 2014, the Department published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, in which it proposed to revise the regulation defining “spouse” in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in United States v. Windsor, –––U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 186 L.Ed.2d 808 (2013). 79 Fed.Reg. 36445–01 (June 27, 2014). Specifically, the Department “proposed to change the definition of spouse to look to the law of the jurisdiction in which the marriage was entered into (including common law marriages), as opposed to the law of the State in which the employee resides, and to expressly reference the inclusion of same-sex marriages in addition to common law marriages.” Summ. Comments, 80 Fed.Reg. 9991 (Feb. 25, 2015) (emphasis added). The proposed rule reads:

Spouse, as defined in the [FMLA] statute, means a husband or wife. For purposes
95 F.Supp.3d 971
of this definition, husband or wife refers to the other person with whom an individual entered into marriage as defined or recognized under State law for purposes of marriage in the State in which the marriage was entered into or, in the case of a marriage entered into outside of any State, if the marriage is valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State. This definition includes an individual in a same-sex or common law marriage that either (1) was entered into in a State that recognizes such marriages or, (2) if entered into outside of any State, is valid in the place where entered into and could have been entered into in at least one State.

79 Fed.Reg. 36454 (June 27, 2014) ; 29 C.F.R. § 825.102.

After the notice and comment period concluded, the Department addressed concerns about potential conflicts with state laws prohibiting recognition of same-sex marriage, concluding that “[t]he Final Rule does not require States to recognize or give effect to same-sex marriages or to provide any state benefit based on a same-sex marriage.”80 Fed.Reg. 9994 (Feb. 25, 2015). Instead, the Department contends “[t]he Final Rule impacts States only in their capacity as employers and merely requires them to provide unpaid FMLA leave to eligible employees based on a federal definition of spouse.” Id. The comment period for the proposed rule ended on August 11, 2014, and the Final Rule regarding the definition of “spouse” is set to take effect on March 27, 2015. 80 Fed.Reg. 9989–90 (Feb. 25, 2015).

B. State Law

Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriages. Am. Compl. 8, ECF No. 14. Under Article I, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution, “(a) Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman. (b) This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage.” Tex. Const. art. I, § 32 ; see also Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 6.204(b) (West 2013) (“A marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union is contrary to the public policy of this state and is void in this state.”); Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 2.001(b) (West 2013) (“A [marriage] license may not be issued for the marriage of persons of the same sex.”); Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 2.401(a) (West 2013) (limiting informal marriages to unions of “a man and woman”).4 The Texas Family Code further prohibits the state, including agencies and political subdivisions of the state, from giving effect to a:

(1) public act, record, or judicial proceeding that creates, recognizes, or validates a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction; or right or claim to any legal protection, benefit, or

(2) responsibility asserted as a result of a marriage between persons of the same sex or a civil union in this state or in any other jurisdiction.

Tex. Fam.Code Ann. § 6.204(c) (West 2013).

The other Plaintiff States—Arkansas, Louisiana, and Nebraska—hold similar restrictions on state recognition of same-sex marriages. See Am. Compl. 8–10, ECF No. 14; see, e.g.,

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Ark. Const. amend. 83, § 2 (“Legal status for unmarried persons which is identical or substantially similar to marital status shall not be valid or recognized in Arkansas, except that the legislature may recognize a common law marriage from another state between a man and a woman.”); La. Civ.Code Ann. art. 3520(B) (“A purported marriage between persons of the same sex violates a strong public policy of the state of Louisiana and such a marriage contracted in another state shall not be recognized in this state for any purpose, including the assertion of any right or claim as a result of the purported marriage.”); Neb. Const. art. I, § 29 (“Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.”). Accordingly,5 because of the similarity between the laws of the Plaintiff States, the Court primarily analyzes the impact on the laws of Plaintiff Texas.

C. Windsor Decision and the Full Faith and Credit Statute

In United States v. Windsor, ––– U.S. ––––, 133 S.Ct. 2675, 186 L.Ed.2d 808 (2013), the plaintiff, whose same-sex marriage was recognized by the State of New York, brought suit against the federal government to claim the federal estate tax exemption for surviving spouses. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the plaintiff, holding unconstitutional Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (“DOMA”), 1 U.S.C. § 7, which defined “marriage” as “only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife.” Windsor, 133 S.Ct. at 2683, 2693–96 ; see also Campaign for S. Equal. v. Bryant, 773 F.3d 55...

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5 practice notes
  • Arnold v. Barbers Hill Indep. Sch. Dist., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:20-CV-1802
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • August 17, 2020
    ...them. Kalsi Engineering, Inc. v. Davidson , No. 4:14-CV-1405, 2014 WL 12540550, at *2 & n.2 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 2, 2014) ; Texas v. U.S. , 95 F. Supp. 3d 965, 981 (N.D. Tex. 2015) ; see also Butler v. Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission , 111 F. Supp. 2d 1224, 1230 (N.D. Ala. 2000) ("Under the......
  • Dillard v. Davis, Civil Action 7:19-cv-00081-M-BP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • January 6, 2022
    ...issuance of the preliminary injunction [or temporary restraining order] will not disserve the public interest.” Texas v. United States, 95 F.Supp.3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015). Granting a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary remedy, ” and the party seeki......
  • Labor Saving Sys. v. Harbor Freight Tools U.S. Inc., CIVIL 4:21-CV-1389-O
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • January 10, 2022
    ...See Hassani v. Napolitano, No. 3:09-CV-1201-D, 2009 WL 2044596, at *1 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2009);.see also Texas v. United States, 95 F.Supp.3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015) (citing Daniels Health Seis., LLC v. Vascular Health Seis., LLC, 710 F.3d 579, 582 (5th Cir. 2013)). The party seeking inj......
  • Crowley v. Keen, Civil Action No. 7:18-cv-00032-O
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • August 15, 2018
    ...weighs in the movant's favor; and (4) the issuance of the injunction will not disserve the public interest.Texas v. United States, 95 F. Supp. 3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015) (citing Daniels Health Scis., LLC v. Vascular Health Scis., LLC, 710 F.3d 579, 582 (5th Cir. 2013). The party seeking i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results
5 cases
  • Arnold v. Barbers Hill Indep. Sch. Dist., CIVIL ACTION NO. 4:20-CV-1802
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Southern District of Texas
    • August 17, 2020
    ...them. Kalsi Engineering, Inc. v. Davidson , No. 4:14-CV-1405, 2014 WL 12540550, at *2 & n.2 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 2, 2014) ; Texas v. U.S. , 95 F. Supp. 3d 965, 981 (N.D. Tex. 2015) ; see also Butler v. Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission , 111 F. Supp. 2d 1224, 1230 (N.D. Ala. 2000) ("Under the......
  • Dillard v. Davis, Civil Action 7:19-cv-00081-M-BP
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • January 6, 2022
    ...issuance of the preliminary injunction [or temporary restraining order] will not disserve the public interest.” Texas v. United States, 95 F.Supp.3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015). Granting a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction is an “extraordinary remedy, ” and the party seeki......
  • Labor Saving Sys. v. Harbor Freight Tools U.S. Inc., CIVIL 4:21-CV-1389-O
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • January 10, 2022
    ...See Hassani v. Napolitano, No. 3:09-CV-1201-D, 2009 WL 2044596, at *1 (N.D. Tex. July 15, 2009);.see also Texas v. United States, 95 F.Supp.3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015) (citing Daniels Health Seis., LLC v. Vascular Health Seis., LLC, 710 F.3d 579, 582 (5th Cir. 2013)). The party seeking inj......
  • Crowley v. Keen, Civil Action No. 7:18-cv-00032-O
    • United States
    • United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. United States District Courts. 5th Circuit. Northern District of Texas
    • August 15, 2018
    ...weighs in the movant's favor; and (4) the issuance of the injunction will not disserve the public interest.Texas v. United States, 95 F. Supp. 3d 965, 973 (N.D. Tex. 2015) (citing Daniels Health Scis., LLC v. Vascular Health Scis., LLC, 710 F.3d 579, 582 (5th Cir. 2013). The party seeking i......
  • Request a trial to view additional results

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