Proposed intervenors must establish four elements in order to be entitled to intervene as a matter of right: (1) that the motion to intervene was timely; (2) that they have a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case; (3) that their ability to protect that interest may be impaired in the absence of intervention; and (4) that the parties already before the court may not adequately represent their interest. A district court's denial of intervention as of right is reviewed de novo, except for the timeliness element, which is reviewed for an abuse of discretion.
Proposed defendant-intervenors appealed the orders of the District Court in two cases denying their motions to intervene as of right in plaintiffs' actions, which alleged that defendant university's race-conscious admission policy violated the Equal Protection Clause.
Whether the district court erred in failing to rule that defendants had established that they had a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case?
On appeal, the court reversed. The court found that in the first case the district court erred in failing to rule that defendants had established that they had a substantial legal interest in the subject matter of the case and that their interests could be impaired in the absence of intervention. The court also found that in both cases defendants had articulated specific relevant defenses that the existing defendant, the university, may not have adequately represented their interests. The court concluded that proposed defendant-intervenors were entitled to intervene as of right.