29 June 2004

The last week has been busy for us civil procedure wonks. Today's decision in ACLU v. Ashcroft appears, at first glance, to turn not on the merits, but on the procedure surrounding preliminary injunctions and the various burdens that the parties must meet. Of course, the merits invariably influence how the parties (and the judges) depict the burdens, but the framework was nonsubstantive.

Whether this will, in the end, be a good thing is another question entirely. At least the COPA may not be enforced during the pendancy of the matter—which will probably take another four to six years, because there will definitely be an appeal from the trial court. I simply don't see this one being settled, unless Bush leaves office and Kerry explicitly withdraws DoJ support for the action. While the former is probable, the latter is extremely rare and always carries a substantial political penalty.