In a bold move, a Nebraska woman named Sylvia Ann Driskell has filed suit in federal court against all homosexuals.
She also claims to be an an ambassador (leaving open the question of whether there are more ambassadors) for God and his son, Jesus Christ. Her pleading then goes on to quote the bible and Webster’s Dictionary.
Can she win?
No. Here are some problems Ambassador Driskell is going to run into with her case. Rule 12(b) of the federal rules of civil procedure set out reasons for a case to be dismissed. Let’s take them one at a time.
Rule 12(b)(1) – Lack of subject-matter jurisdiction;
This is going to be a tough one to overcome, especially with that whole First Amendment thing and all. Also consider the following: federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They consider cases that have to do with federal laws – i.e. things that involve the U.S. Government or affect interstate commerce. They also have jurisdiction over issues of constitutionality, and things like habeas corpus petitions.
Rule 12(b)(2) – Lack of personal jurisdiction;
Does a court have jurisdiction over unnamed homosexuals? Are there any living in this court’s jurisdiction? Hard to say. To have personal jurisdiction a party has to show the court that the other party lives or does business within its territorial jurisdiction. So unless she can identify a homosexual living or working in Nebraska, the case will be dismissed on this ground also.
Note: the court not having personal jurisdiction over a party also tripped up the man who sued “Satan and his Staff” for civil rights violations.
Rule 12(b)(3) – Improper venue;
Hmmmmmm. I’ve never been to Nebraska, but it seems nice.
Rule 12(b)(5) – Insufficient service of process; and
To make a court exercise its authority over a person or a group of people, you have to properly notify them of your court action. This is called “service of process.” So Ambassador Driskell would have to serve a copy of her lawsuit-thing on either all homosexuals, or in the case of a class action, a representative of that class. Since she’s sued all homosexuals everywhere it would be a class action, but choosing a class representative would be pretty hard.
Rule 12(b)(6) – Failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
To successfully maintain a claim in court you have to tell the court what you want it to do, and why. You also have to ask for something that the court is legally able to do – a “claim on which relief can be granted.” In reading her pleading, te only thing Ambassador Driskell asks the court to do is hear her out. That’s not going to fly.
Maybe she meant to file this as a declaratory judgment action. Basically this type of case asks the court to make a declaration about certain issues of law or the interpretation of a contract. But even if that were the case, the issue of whether or not homosexuality is a sin is far outside the court’s jurisdiction.
So, yeah… this lawsuit isn’t going anywhere. But I will give Ambassador Driskell brownie points for at least being quite civil in her court filing, which is more than can be said for this person.