Posted Dec 18, 2012 05:13 pm CST
A Kentucky lawyer who wanted to work in the administrative office of the United States Courts in Washington, D.C., was summarily rejected when she applied because she doesn’t live in the nation’s capital or its suburbs.
That was a violation of her constitutional right to travel, argued Malla Pollack, at first in an administrative complaint and, when that was rejected, in a federal lawsuit against the individuals, in their official capacity, who are in charge of the office. A federal district court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss, agreeing that sovereign immunity precluded the lawsuit. But on Friday the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit revived Pollack’s suit, explaining in a Friday opinion (PDF) that her claim for injunctive relief based on alleged unconstitutional conduct by sovereign officers is not barred by sovereign immunity.
The appeals court offered no opinion concerning another potential basis for a motion to dismiss, which will likely be addressed on remand—whether the United States Courts Personnel Act of 1990 shows that Congress intended to preclude claims like Pollack’s from being brought. It likewise did not reach the merits of Pollack’s complaint and determine that she has a constitutional right to travel that is applicable to her case.
Pollack represented herself pro se in the appeal.
Hat tip: Legal Profession Blog.