Colo. ex rel. Suthers v. Gonzales

558 F. Supp. 2d 1158 (D. Colo. 2007)



A case is non-justiciable under the political question doctrine if there is a lack of discoverable and manageable standards for resolving it, or there is an impossibility of deciding without an initial policy determine of a kind clearly not for judicial interpretation, amounting to a disrespect due the coordinate branches of government.


In compliance with Colo. Rev. Stat. § 24-19.8, the Colorado Attorney General (AG) sued the United States, its Attorney General, and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, and sought a writ of mandamus ordering the Secretary to prepare and implement a plan to secure the nation's borders against illegal immigration and to implement the requirements of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004.The United States argued that the complaint should have been dismissed because it raised nonjusticiable issues under the political question doctrine.


Are the issues raised non-justiciable issues under the political question doctrine?




The court found that the issues raised by complaint were nonjusticiable under the political question doctrine because the claim implicates foreign policy and national defense issues under U.S. Const. art. I, § 8 and U.S. Const. art. IV, § 4, which were the province of the political branches of government and which the courts were reluctant to address. The Colorado AG lacked standing to pursue its claims against the United States because: (1) although there was an ongoing and serious threat of future terrorist attacks in the United States, there was no basis on which to conclude that such attacks were imminent in Colorado, and thus, the Colorado AG failed to meet its burden of establishing an injury in fact; (2) the Colorado AG could not meet the heightened burden it bore to demonstrate that the United States' failure to take certain actions with respect to third parties caused its alleged injury; and (3) the Colorado AG's argument was too speculative to satisfy the redressibility element of standing.

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