18 February 2013

Law in Plain English: Bloem v. Unknown Department of the Interior Employees

This is one in a series of posts designed to describe court decisions in plain English. For more detail and background on the legal issues, see the link to the case below. For similar posts, click here.

I've made a slight change to the "SCOTUS in Plain English" series to reflect the opportunity to discuss a few cases not at the Supreme Court level that are nonetheless interesting and worthy of discussion. As a result, the series is now called "Law in Plain English."

Bloem v. Unknown Department of the Interior Employees

The National Park Service distributed flyers warning Occupy protesters in McPherson Square that they would begin enforcing a prohibition on camping. Subsequently, many items of personal property (some that belonged to Bloem) were destroyed. Bloem filed a lawsuit against the unnamed Department of the Interior employees for the seizure and destruction of his property. The DoI filed a motion to dismiss, alleging that Bloem had failed to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. The District Court ruled that the tent city was expressive conduct, permitted by the First Amendment. Additionally, Bloem's allegations that the DoI had violated his Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights were sufficient, and thus Bloem had stated a plausible claim. For purposes of a motion to dismiss, which in this case is a 12(b)(6) motion, Bloem's alleged facts are presumed by the court to be true. In other words, the court looks at the case and says: even if we assume that all of his facts are true, has he made a plausible claim? This is a procedure hurdle to make sure that baseless lawsuits don't consume valuable time of the court. As a result, Bloem's claim survived the government's motion to dismiss and the case can move forward.

Post a Comment