Committee For A Fair And Balanced Map et al v. Illinois State Board of Elections et al
OPINION AND ORDER Signed by the Honorable John Daniel Tinder, the Honorable Robert L. Miller and the Honorable Joan Humphrey Lefkow on 10/12/2011:Mailed notice(mad, )
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS
COMMITTEE FOR A FAIR AND
BALANCED MAP, JUDY BIGGERT,
ROBERT J. DOLD, RANDY HULTGREN,
ADAM KINZINGER, DONALD MANZULLO,
PETER J. ROSKAM, BOBBY SCHILLING,
AARON SCHOCK, JOHN M. SHIMKUS,
JOE WALSH, RALPH RANGEL, LOU
SANDOVAL, LUIS SANABRIA,
MICHELLE CABALLERO, EDMUND
BRENZINSKI, and LAURA WAXWEILER
ILLINOIS STATE BOARD OF ELECTIONS,
WILLIAM M. MCGUFFAGE,
JESSE R. SMART, BRYAN A. SCHNEIDER,
BETTY J. COFFRIN, HAROLD D. BYERS,
JUDITH C. RICE, CHARLES W. SCHOLTZ,
and ERNEST L. GOWEN,
No. 11 C 5065
Judge John Daniel Tinder
Judge Robert L. Miller
Judge Joan Humphrey Lefkow
OPINION AND ORDER
This matter is before the court on plaintiffs’ motion to compel enforcement of third party
subpoenas [Dkt. No. 52] and certain non-parties’ motion to quash subpoenas and for a protective
order [Dkt. No. 58]. The motions raise legislative privilege issues rarely addressed by the courts
because they pertain to the redistricting activity that follows each decennial census. For this
reason, this opinion is more lengthy than the typical ruling on discovery issues.
The United States Constitution requires Illinois lawmakers to redraw the state’s
congressional district boundaries after each decennial census. U.S. CONST. ART. I, § 2; id.
amend. XIV, §§ 1 & 2; id. AMEND. XV; Ryan v. State Bd. of Elections of State of Ill., 661 F.2d
1130, 1132 (7th Cir. 1981). Pursuant to this authority, the Illinois General Assembly drafted,
debated, and passed the Illinois Congressional Redistricting Act of 2011 (the “Redistricting
Act”) (P.A. 97-14). The Redistricting Act eliminates one congressional seat, as required by the
2010 United States Census results, and establishes boundaries for the state’s eighteen remaining
Beginning on March 28, 2011, and continuing through May 2, 2011, members of the
Illinois House of Representatives and the Illinois Senate held a series of public hearings at
locations around the state where members of the public were allowed to comment on the
redistricting process. See 10 Ill. Comp. Stat. 125/10-5. On May 27, 2011, the Democratic
leadership of the Illinois House and Senate Redistricting Committees released the congressional
redistricting plan (“2011 Map”) on its website. Three days later, the Illinois House of
Representatives passed the Redistricting Act, and the next day the Illinois Senate followed suit.
On June 24, 2011, the Governor signed the Redistricting Act into law, and the present litigation
The plaintiffs comprise three groups: The Committee for a Fair and Balanced Map, a notfor-profit organization created by Illinois citizens concerned about the congressional redistricting
process in Illinois; nine Republican Congressmen and one Republican Congresswoman; and six
registered voters, four of whom are identified as Latino and two as Republican (collectively
“plaintiffs”). The defendants include the Illinois State Board of Elections, the agency charged
with implementing the 2011 Map, and its individual members (collectively “defendants”).
Plaintiffs allege that the 2011 Map discriminates against Latino and Republican voters,
and they seek to invalidate the redistricting plan in whole or in part. Specifically, plaintiffs
allege that the 2011 Map violates the Voting Rights Act of 1965, 42 U.S.C. § 1973 (“VRA”)
(Count I), the Fourteenth Amendment (Count II) and the Fifteenth Amendment (Count III) by
diluting the voting strength of Latino voters. Plaintiffs also claim that the 2011 Map constitutes
an impermissible racial gerrymander in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment (Count IV) and a
partisan gerrymander in violation the First Amendment (Count V) and Fourteenth Amendment
The parties have engaged in expedited discovery. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 45, plaintiffs served thirty subpoenas duces tecum1 on a number of non-party entities
and individuals, including the (i) Illinois House of Representatives (through Tim Mapes, Chief
of Staff); (ii) Office of the Speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives (through Tim Mapes,
Chief of Staff); (iii) Illinois House Redistricting Committee (through Barbara Flynn Currie,
Chairperson); (iv) Illinois Senate (through Jillayne Rock, Secretary of the Senate); (v) Office of
the Senate President (through Andrew Manar, Chief of Staff); (vi) Illinois Senate Redistricting
Committee (through Kwame Raoul, Chairperson); and (vii) various legislative staffers with
knowledge of the reapportionment scheme (collectively “Non-Parties”). The subpoenas contain
The United States District Court for the Central District of Illinois issued twenty-five of the
thirty subpoenas served by plaintiffs because most of subpoenaed witnesses reside in Springfield, Illinois.
The remaining five subpoenas were issued by the United States District Court for the Northern District of
Illinois. According to Non-Parties, the Northern District of Illinois subpoenas capture all of the
documents within the scope of the Central District of Illinois subpoenas, including those possessed by the
Illinois House and Senate Redistricting Committees and individual staff members.
twenty-one requests for production encompassing documents and communications related to the
2011 Map. Non-Parties refused to comply with plaintiffs’ requests, claiming that legislative
immunity, the deliberative process privilege, the attorney-client privilege and/or the workproduct doctrine protect the documents from disclosure.
On September 15, 2011, plaintiffs filed a motion to compel enforcement of the third party
subpoenas. The next day, the President of the Illinois Senate, the Speaker of the Illinois House
of Representatives, and the chairpersons of the Illinois House and Senate Redistricting
Committees moved to quash. Each party was allowed to file a response and this three-judge
court heard arguments on September 29, 2011.
Relevance of Requested Discovery
Plaintiffs have served Non-Parties with twenty-one document requests.
Plaintiffs seek a plethora of documents concerning the planning, development,
negotiation, and drawing of the 2011 Map.2 These documents can be broadly categorized as
Plaintiffs’ document requests include:
All documents related to the state of Illinois legislative and/or congressional redistricting
process which led to the planning, development, negotiation, drawing, revision or redrawing of the 2011 Map.
All documents, including, but not limited to, reports, analyses, election results or other
election data, and communications pertaining or relating to the planning, development,
negotiation, drawing, revision or re-drawing of the 2011 Map.
All documents regarding any communications, discussions, meetings and/or
conversations, pertaining or relating to the planning, development, negotiation, drawing,
revision or re-drawing of the 2011 Map with any of the following: Defendants;
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee or anyone else acting on its behalf;
Illinois House and Senate Redistricting Committees; any member of the Illinois General
Assembly or anyone acting on their behalf; any current or former member of Congress
and anyone acting on their behalf; any interest groups that testified at the redistricting
All documents, communications or other matter, including all data files or other data type
related to election and/or voter data; election redistricting software; and all 2010 Census
data used for the purpose of planning and drawing the 2011 Map or any other potential
congressional plan that was not adopted.
All documents, communications or other matter, that constitute, refer or relate to data
files and drafts of data files used to formulate the composition of Districts 3, 4, 5 of the
Any draft drawings of any Districts of the 2011 Map.
All documents which reflect the identity of any and all persons who assisted in the
drawing of Districts 3, 4, and 5 of the 2011 Map.
All documents which reflect when the planning and drawing of Districts 3, 4, and 5 of the
2011 Map were finalized.
All documents which reflect the identity of person(s) who made or participated in the
decision to have the Latino Voting Age Population (“VAP”) in District 3 as 24.64%.
All documents which reflect the identity of person(s) who made or participated in the
decision to have the Latino VAP in District 4 as 65.92%.
All documents which reflect the identity of person(s) who made or participated in the
decision to have the Latino VAP in District 5 as 16.05%.
All documents which reflect the identity of any expert or consultant who reviewed,
commented on, advised or otherwise rendered any advice or opinion concerning the 2011
All documents which reflect the identity of any expert or consultant who conducted any
racial bloc voting or racial polarization analysis concerning the 2011 Map.
Documents which reflect any racial bloc voting or racial polarization analysis conducted
by any expert or consultant.
All documents or communications pertaining or relating to any analysis, review, study or
consideration undertaken by any expert, consultant, scholar or other person regarding
whether the 2011 Map complies with the VRA, the U.S. Constitution, or the Illinois
All documents which consist of reports or opinions of any expert or consultant used to
support the composition of the entire 2011 Map.
All documents which reflect any and all analysis concerning the viability of drawing two
Latino congressional Districts, whether the Districts be considered majority or influence
Any engagement letters provided to experts or consultants engaged for the purposes of
planning, preparing, drawing, and analyzing or providing supporting evidence for the
All records of payment to any experts or consultants.
All documents identifying any person(s) involved in the decision to post the proposed
congressional plan on the Illinois Senate website during the early morning hours of May
All documents identifying any person(s) who actually posted the congressional plan on
(1) information concerning the motives, objectives, plans, reports, and/or procedures used by
lawmakers to draw the 2011 Map;3 (2) information concerning the identities of persons who
participated in decisions regarding the 2011 Map;4 (3) the identities of experts and/or consultants
retained to assist in drafting the 2011 Map and contractual agreements related thereto;5 and (4)
objective facts upon which lawmakers relied in drawing the 2011 Map.6
Relevancy of Requested Documents
Under Rule 26 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, parties may obtain discovery of
any nonprivileged matter that is relevant to any party’s claim or defense. Plaintiffs make six
claims related to the 2011 Map. See Compl. ¶¶ 108–38. Proof of discriminatory intent is
required for plaintiffs to prevail on their Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendment racial
discrimination claims.7 It has also been found sufficient, though not necessary, to sustain a VRA
claim. See United States v. Irvin, 127 F.R.D. 169, 171 (C.D. Cal. 1989) (after the 1982
amendments to the VRA, “plaintiffs may carry their burden by fulfilling either the more
restrictive intent test or the results test”) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted); accord
Garza v. County of Los Angeles, 918 F.2d 763, 771 (9th Cir. 1990).
the Illinois Senate website during the early morning hours of May 27, 2011.
See Req. Nos. 1–6, 8, 14–17. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
See Req. Nos. 7, 9–11, 20–21. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
See Req. Nos. 12–13, 18–19. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
See Req. Nos. 2 & 4. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
The test for plaintiffs’ partisan gerrymandering claims is unsettled. See Vieth v. Jubelirer, 541
U.S. 267, 124 S. Ct. 1769, 158 L. Ed. 2d 546 (2004).
To demonstrate intentional discrimination, however, plaintiffs need not offer direct
evidence of discriminatory intent. Direct evidence includes statements made by the decision
making body or members thereto. See, e.g., ACORN v. County of Nassau, No. 05-2301,
2007 WL 2815810, at *3 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2007) (ACORN I) (“testimony regarding a
legislator’s stated motivation might be the most direct form of evidence” of discriminatory
intent.) Instead, plaintiffs may rely on circumstantial evidence to show that lawmakers
purposefully discriminated against Latino and/or Republican voters in enacting the 2011 Map.
See Ketchum v. Byrne, 740 F.2d 1398, 1406 (7th Cir. 1984) (“In Rogers, the [Supreme] Court
affirmed the district court’s finding of intentional discrimination based on indirect and
circumstantial evidence and endorsed its reliance on a ‘totality of the circumstances’ approach.”)
(citing Rogers v. Lodge, 458 U.S. 613, 622–27, 102 S. Ct. 3272, 73 L. Ed. 2d 1012 (1982)).
For example, to evaluate claims of racial vote dilution under the Fourteenth Amendment,
courts rely on the totality of the circumstances test. See Rogers, 458 U.S. at 618. Under this
test, courts may infer discriminatory intent from a variety of circumstantial factors. These
factors include, but are not limited to, bloc voting along racial lines; low minority voter
registration; exclusion from the political process; unresponsiveness of elected officials to needs
of minorities; and depressed socio-economic status attributable to inferior education and
employment and housing discrimination. Ketchum, 740 F.2d at 1406 (citing Rogers, 458 U.S. at
622–27). Other factors include the historical background of the decision; the specific sequence
of events leading up to the challenged decision; departures from the normal procedural sequence;
minority retrogression (i.e. a decrease in the voting strength of a cohesive voting bloc over time);
and manipulation of district boundaries to adjust the relative size of minority groups, including
the “packing” of minority voters. See Village of Arlington Heights v. Metro. Housing Dev.
Corp., 429 U.S. 252, 267–68, 97 S. Ct. 555, 50 L. Ed. 2d 450 (1977); Rybicki v. State Bd. of
Elections, 574 F. Supp. 1082, 1108–12 (N.D. Ill. 1982). Thus, under the totality of the
circumstances test, the court may infer an “invidious discriminatory purpose . . . from the totality
of the relevant facts,” including the discriminatory effect of the redistricting scheme. Rogers,
458 U.S. at 618 (citation omitted).
Plaintiffs allege many of these circumstantial factors in their Complaint. See Compl. ¶¶
38–45 (events leading up to enactment); ¶ 60 (history of discrimination); ¶¶ 52–54 (manipulating
district boundaries); ¶ 57 (racial polarization of elections). Yet many of plaintiffs’ document
requests solicit direct, not circumstantial, evidence of legislative intent, by demanding
documents that contain communications between lawmakers and their staff. See, e.g., Req. Nos.
1–5 & 8. These documents are likely to contain the motives, impressions and/or opinions of
those responsible for drafting the 2011 Map. Other requests seek the identities of those who
made or participated in key decisions, suggesting an attempt by plaintiffs to gain insight to the
thought processes of these individuals, if not now, then perhaps later through depositions. See,
e.g., Req. Nos. 7, 9–13.
To be sure, statements made by members of the decision-making body are relevant to
show discriminatory intent. See Village of Arlington Heights, 429 U.S. at 268. But this is but
one factor among many that plaintiffs may use to prove their claims. As acknowledged by the
Inquiries into congressional motives or purposes are a hazardous matter. When the
issue is simply the interpretation of legislation, the Court will look to statements by
legislators for guidance as to the purpose of the legislature, because the benefit to
sound decision-making in this circumstance is thought sufficient to risk the
possibility of misreading Congress’ purpose. It is entirely a different matter when
we are asked to void a statute that is, under well-settled criteria, constitutional on its
face, on the basis of what fewer than a handful of Congressmen said about it. What
motivates one legislator to make a speech about a statute is not necessarily what
motivates scores of others to enact it, and the stakes are sufficiently high for us to
Hunter v. Underwood, 471 U.S. 222, 228, 105 S. Ct. 1916, 85 L. Ed. 2d 222 (1985) (quoting
United States v. O’Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 383–84, 88 S. Ct. 1673, 1682–1683, 20 L. Ed. 2d 672
(1968)); see also Palmer v. Thompson, 403 U.S. 217, 224, 91 S. Ct. 1940, 29 L. Ed. 2d 438
(1971) (“no case in this Court has held that a legislative act may violate equal protection solely
because of the motivations of the men who voted for it”); Hispanic Coalition on
Reapportionment v. Legislative Reapportionment Comm., 536 F. Supp 578, 586 (D. Pa. 1982)
(holding that discriminatory statements made by the chairman of a city redistricting committee
were insufficient to prove discriminatory intent absent a showing that the state legislative body
adopted the chairman’s views). Thus, the individual motivations and objectives of those who
drafted the 2011 Map, although relevant, are not critical to the outcome of this case.
The remainder of plaintiffs’ document requests pertain to facts, plans, reports or
procedures created, formulated or used by lawmakers to draft the 2011 Map. Objective facts,
such as United States Census reports and election returns, are highly relevant to plaintiffs’ claims
and necessary to prove many of the totality of the circumstances factors, including racial bloc
voting, retrogression and manipulation of district boundaries. The actual facts upon which
lawmakers relied, however, are less relevant because they say little as to whether the overall
effect of the 2011 Map is discriminatory. Lawmakers may have considered a lot of facts and
drawn a discriminatory map, or considered no facts and drawn a perfectly constitutional map.
The proof, so they say, is in the pudding; and the pudding is the 2011 Map.
Finally, to the extent that the plans, reports and procedures used by lawmakers to draw
the 2011 Map shed light on the sequence of events leading up to its enactment, this information
may be relevant to plaintiffs’ claims. The most important events, however, are those undertaken
by the legislative body, such as public hearings, committee meetings and floor debates. The
deliberations of individual lawmakers, even those who helped draw the 2011 Map, are less
probative of the totality of the circumstances test. Nevertheless, because most of plaintiffs’
requests seek material relevant within Rule 26, the court will consider whether any of these
documents are privileged from disclosure.
Identification of Nonprivileged Matter
The issue before this court is the extent to which legislative immunity shields non-party
state lawmakers from providing evidence in a civil lawsuit related to their legislative activities.
Plaintiffs argue that the privilege is qualified and narrow. Non-Parties argue that it is absolute.
Absolute Legislative Immunity
The Speech or Debate Clause of the United States Constitution grants federal lawmakers
absolute legislative immunity from civil suit for their legitimate legislative activities. The Clause
states that “for any Speech or Debate in either House,” Senators and Representatives “shall not
be questioned in any other Place.” U.S. CONST. ART. I, § 6, cl. 1. When applied, this provision
shields federal lawmakers “engaged in the sphere of legitimate legislative activity” from being
sued for prospective relief or damages. Supreme Ct. of Va. v. Consumers Union of U.S.,
446 U.S. 719, 732, 100 S. Ct. 1967, 64 L. Ed. 2d 641 (1980) (quoting Tenney v. Branhove,
341 U.S. 367, 376, 71 S. Ct. 783, 95 L. Ed. 1019 (1951)). It also mandates an evidentiary
privilege that prevents the legislative acts of a member of Congress from being used against him
or her in court. See United States v. Helstoski, 442 U.S. 477, 488–89, 99 S. Ct. 2432, 61 L. Ed.
2d 12 (1979). Finally, it provides a testimonial privilege that protects a member or the member’s
aides from judicial questioning regarding the member’s legislative acts. Gravel v. United States,
408 U.S. 606, 616, 92 S. Ct. 2614, 33 L. Ed. 2d 583 (1972). “In sum, the Speech or Debate
Clause prohibits inquiry . . . into those things generally said or done in the House or the Senate
in the performance of official duties and into the motivation for those acts.” United States v.
Brewster, 408 U.S. 501, 512, 92 S. Ct. 2531, 33 L. Ed. 2d 507 (1972).
The Speech or Debate Clause, by its terms, does not apply at all to state and local
legislators. See, e.g., Fla. Ass’n of Rehab. Fac., Inc. v. State of Fla. Dep’t of Health & Rehab.
Servs., 164 F.R.D. 257, 266 (N.D. Fla. 1995). Instead, the federal common law applies.8
Applying the federal common law, the Supreme Court in Tenney held that members of a state
legislative committee were immune from civil liability for allegedly violating an individual’s
civil rights by calling him before the committee to testify in an effort to interfere with his First
Amendment rights. 341 U.S. at 376–77. Since Tenney, it is clear that under the federal common
law “state and local officials are absolutely immune from federal suit for personal damages for
their legitimate legislative activities.” Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Blagojevich, 638 F.3d
519, 527 (7th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted), partially vacated and decided on unrelated grounds
by Empress Casino Joliet Corp. v. Balmoral Racing Club, Inc., 651 F3d 799 (7th Cir. 2011); see
also Tenney, 341 U.S. at 376–77. This immunity also extends to “legislative staff members,
officers, or other employees of a legislative body, although it is considered less absolute as
This case presents federal questions and therefore the federal common law applies. Fed. R.
Evid. 501; see generally 3 WEINSTEIN’S EVIDENCE § 501.02[b][i] (1997) (in federal question cases,
federal privilege law, rather than the privilege law of the forum state, generally applies).
applied to these individuals.” Marylanders for Fair Representation, Inc. v. Schaefer, 144 F.R.D.
292, 298 (D. Md. 1992) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).
The scope of the federal common law is not entirely settled, however. The Supreme
Court has held that in a federal criminal prosecution, a state legislator did not have an absolute
evidentiary privilege based in legislative immunity from introduction of evidence of his
legislative acts. United States v. Gillock, 445 U.S. 360, 373, 100 S. Ct. 1185, 63 L. Ed. 2d 454
(1980). Gillock carved out an exception from Tenney, reasoning that “the cases in this court
which have recognized an immunity from civil suit for state officials have presumed the
existence of federal criminal liability as a restraining factor on the conduct of state officials.”
445 U.S. at 372. See Fla. Ass’n of Rehab. Fac., Inc, 164 F.R.D. at 267 (“legislators and some of
their staff members may be immune to civil process in a suit directly against them . . . [but this
immunity] is not an evidentiary privilege”).
Since Gillock, a number of courts have “rejected the notion that the common law
immunity of state legislators gives rise to a general evidentiary privilege.” Manzi v. DiCarlo,
982 F. Supp. 125, 129 (E.D.N.Y. 1997) (citations omitted); see Cano v. Davis, 193 F. Supp. 2d
1177, 1180 (C.D. Cal. 2002) (“state legislators do not enjoy the type of absolute protection
afforded members of the Congress under the Speech or Debate Clause”); In re Grand Jury,
821 F.2d 946, 957 (3d Cir. 1987) (“Neither the threat of harassment, the dangers of distraction,
nor the potential disruption of confidential communications justifies a qualified privilege for the
full range of legislative activities normally protected by the Speech or Debate Clause.”).
The issue before this court is whether common law legislative immunity absolutely
shields non-party state lawmakers from providing evidence in a civil lawsuit related to their
legislative activities. Given the federal interests at stake in redistricting cases, this court
concludes that common law legislative immunity does not entirely shield Non-Parties here. In
Gillock, the Supreme Court noted that “where important federal interests are at stake, such as in
the enforcement of federal criminal statutes, comity yields.” 445 U.S. at 373. The federal
government’s interest in enforcing voting rights statutes is, without question, important. See,
e.g., Irvin, 127 F.R.D. at 174 (“The federal interest in the present case is compelling. The
Voting Rights Act forbids local practices that abridge the fundamental right to vote. This Act
requires vigorous and searching federal enforcement.”); Bartlett v. Strickland, 556 U.S. 1, ----,
129 S. Ct. 1231, 1240, 173 L. Ed. 2d 173 (2009) (“Passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was
an important step in the struggle to end discriminatory treatment of minorities who seek to
exercise one of the most fundamental rights of our citizens: the right to vote.”). Voting rights
cases, although brought by private parties, seek to vindicate public rights. In this respect, they
are akin to criminal prosecutions. Thus, much as in Gillock, “recognition of an evidentiary
privilege for state legislators for their legislative acts would impair the legitimate interest of the
Federal government.” Gillock, 445 U.S. at 373.
Moreover, the Supreme Court has stated that evidentiary privileges must be “strictly
construed” and accepted “only to the very limited extent that permitting a refusal to testify or
excluding relevant evidence has a public good transcending the normally predominant principle
of utilizing all rational means for ascertaining truth.” Trammel v. United States, 445 U.S. 40, 50,
100 S. Ct. 906, 63 L. Ed. 2d 186 (1980) (citation omitted). This court therefore does not find in
the common law an absolute immunity for non-party state lawmakers that protects them from
producing documents in federal redistricting cases. Instead, Non-Parties’ privilege claims are
best analyzed under the doctrine of legislative privilege.
Other courts in different contexts have applied a qualified legislative privilege to protect
state lawmakers from producing documents related to their legislative activities. This privilege
is similar to the deliberative process privilege, which is also qualified, but the deliberative
process privilege applies to the executive branch, not the legislature. The legislative privilege
does not shield lawmakers from being sued, but rather protects them from producing documents
in certain cases. See Lindley v. Life Ins. Co. of Am., No. 08-CV-379, 2009 WL 2245565, at *9
(N.D. Okla. Jul. 24, 2009) (“Generally, legislators’ immunity from suit is referred to as
‘legislative immunity,’ and the evidentiary privilege accorded legislators is referred to as the
‘legislative privilege.’”). Under the federal common law, legislative privilege is qualified, not
absolute, and may be overcome by a showing of need. In re Grand Jury, 821 F.2d at 958;
Joseph’s House & Shelter, Inc. v. City of Troy, N.Y., 641 F. Supp. 2d 154, 158 n.3 (N.D.N.Y.
In determining whether and to what extent a state lawmaker may invoke legislative
privilege, the court will consider the following factors: (i) the relevance of the evidence sought
to be protected; (ii) the availability of other evidence; (iii) the seriousness of the litigation and
the issues involved; (iv) the role of the government in the litigation; and (v) the possibility of
future timidity by government employees who will be forced to recognize that their secrets are
violable. Rodriguez v. Pataki, 280 F. Supp. 2d 89, 101 (S.D.N.Y. 2003) (citing In re Franklin
Nat’l Bank Secs. Litig., 478 F. Supp. 577, 583 (E.D.N.Y. 1979)); see also ACORN v. County of
Nassau, No.05-2301, 2009 WL 2923435, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 10, 2009) (ACORN II); Joseph’s
House & Shelter, Inc, 641 F. Supp. 2d at 158 n.3. In considering these factors, the court’s goal is
to determine whether the need for disclosure and accurate fact finding outweighs the
legislature’s “need to act free of worry about inquiry into [its] deliberations.” ACORN II, 2009
WL 2923435, at *2 n.2.9
Balancing of Interests
The Seriousness of the Litigation and the Issues Involved, and the
Role of the Government in the Litigation
In balancing the relevant interests, the first two factors weigh in favor of disclosure.
There can be little doubt that plaintiffs’ allegations are serious. Plaintiffs raise profound
These factors are also used by some courts to evaluate the availability and scope of the
deliberative process privilege. See, e.g., Doe v. Nebraska, Nos. 8:09CV456, 4:09CV3266, 4:10CV3005,
----F. Supp. 2d----, 2011 WL 1480483, at *7 (D. Neb. Apr. 19, 2011). The deliberative process privilege
prohibits discovery of communications that are used by governmental bodies in formulating policy.
United States v. Farley, 11 F.3d 1385, 1389 (7th Cir. 1993). The key difference between the deliberative
process privilege and the legislative privilege is that the former protects executive and administrative
deliberations, and the latter safeguards legislative independence. See Kay v. City of Rancho Palos
Verdes, No. CV 02-3922, 2003 WL 25294710, at *15 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 10, 2003).
Some courts considering the scope of the deliberative process privilege have applied the same
legislative privilege factors discussed herein. See, e.g, Doe, 2011 WL 1480483, at *7; Kay, 2003 WL
25294710, at *18. In this respect, “the balancing tests that courts have suggested for challenges to both
the legislative privilege and the deliberative process privilege are quite similar and functionally
interchangeable.” Kay, 2003 WL 25294710, at *17 (collecting cases).
Several cases in the Northern District of Illinois, however, have required a particularized showing
to invoke the deliberative process privilege. See, e.g., Buonauro v. City of Berwyn, No. 08-C-6687, 2011
WL 2110133, at *2 (N.D. Ill. May 25, 2011) (“In order to invoke the privilege, a party must show three
elements: (1) the department head with control over the information has made a formal claim of privilege;
(2) the responsible official must demonstrate, usually by affidavit, the reasons for preserving the
confidentiality of the documents; and, (3) the official must specifically identify and describe the
documents in question.”) (citing Ferrell v. U.S. Dep’t Hous. & Urban Dev., 177 F.R.D. 425, 428 (N.D.
Ill.1998)); see also Parvati Corp. v. City of Oak Forest, No. 08-C-702, 2010 WL 2836739, at *5 (N.D.
Ill. July 19, 2010).
Because Non-Parties are members of the legislative branch, not the executive branch, and because
they have not made the particularized showing required to invoke the deliberative process privilege, the
deliberative process privilege does not apply. This court will consider cases in other courts analyzing the
deliberative process privilege only to the extent that they bear on the scope of the legislative privilege.
questions about the legitimacy of the redistricting process and the viability of the 2011 Map.
Moreover, the legislators’ role in the allegedly unlawful conduct is direct. The General
Assembly, through its members, aides and consultants, was primarily responsible for drafting,
revising and approving the 2011 Map. These actions are under scrutiny. This is not, then, “the
usual ‘deliberative process’ case in which a private party challenges governmental action . . . and
the government tries to prevent its decision-making process from being swept up unnecessarily
into [the] public [domain].” United States v. Bd. of Ed. of City of Chicago, 610 F. Supp 695, 700
(N.D. Ill. 1985). Rather, “the decisionmaking process . . . [itself] is the case,” at least to the
extent that plaintiffs allege that the General Assembly intentionally discriminated against Latino
and/or Republican voters. Id. (emphasis in original). The seriousness of the litigation and the
role of Non-Parties militate in favor of disclosure.
The Relevance of the Evidence Sought to be Protected and the
Availability of Other Evidence
As discussed in Part I.B. the evidence plaintiffs seek is relevant, although it is not central
to the outcome of this case. Moreover, the availability of other evidence favors non-disclosure.
Plaintiffs already have considerable information at their fingertips. This includes public hearing
minutes, special interest group position papers, statements made by lawmakers during debate,
committee reports, press releases, newspaper articles, census reports, registered voter data and
election returns. These documents and data are a matter of public record. As such, these factors
weigh against disclosure.
The Possibility of Future Timidity by Government Employees
Finally, the need to encourage frank and honest discussion among lawmakers favors nondisclosure. Plaintiffs claim that disclosure of the subpoenaed documents will not unduly chill
legislators in their future communications because Non-Parties are not defendants in the present
litigation and there is little danger that any discovered material would be used against them in a
later criminal prosecution. Plaintiffs also claim that because this case involves redistricting—a
task not oft performed by legislators—permitting discovery will not work to chill the day-to-day
functioning of the legislature.
The Redistricting Act, however, evolved from the same legislative process as any other
law. Legislators negotiated the law in private and debated it in public. Infrequency is therefore
irrelevant. In addition, the need for confidentiality between lawmakers and their staff is of
utmost importance. Legislators face competing demands from constituents, lobbyists, party
leaders, special interest groups and others. They must be able to confer with one another without
fear of public disclosure.
In this respect, the legislature is not unlike other branches of government. As noted by
the Third Circuit, a “legislator’s need for confidentiality is similar to the need for confidentiality
in communications between judges, between executive officials, and between a President and his
aides.” In re Grand Jury, 821 F.2d at 957 (citations omitted); see also Certain Complaints
Under Investigation by an Investigating Comm. of the Judicial Council of the Eleventh Circuit,
783 F.2d 1488, 1520 (11th Cir. 1986) (judicial privilege applies where matters under inquiry
implicate communications among a judge and his staff concerning official judicial business such
as “the framing and researching of opinions, orders and rulings”); N.L.R.B. v. Sears, Roebuck &
Co., 421 U.S. 132, 150, 95 S. Ct. 1504, 44 L. Ed. 2d 29 (1975) (executive privilege for agency
officials applies to documents “reflecting advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations
comprising part of a process by which governmental decisions and policies are formulated”)
Failure to protect confidential communications between lawmakers and their staff will
not only chill legislative debate, it will also discourage “earnest discussion within governmental
walls.” Doe, 2011 WL 1480483, at *6 (citations omitted). In the redistricting context, full
public disclosure would hinder the ability of party leaders to synthesize competing interests of
constituents, special interest groups and lawmakers, and draw a map that has enough support to
become law. This type of legislative horse trading is an important and undeniable part of the
Courts have recognized that disclosure of confidential documents concerning intimate
legislative activities should be avoided. See Rodriguez, 280 F. Supp. 2d at 102; Kay, 2003 WL
25294710, at *14. Courts applying this approach have held that a qualified privilege protects
documents “created prior to the passage and implementation [of a bill] that involve opinions,
recommendations or advice about legislative decisions between legislators or between legislators
and their aides.” Doe, 2011 WL 1480483, at *8; see generally City of Las Vegas v. Foley,
747 F.2d 1294, 1297 (9th Cir. 1984) (“The Court prevents inquiry into the motives of legislators
because it recognizes that such inquiries are a hazardous task.”) (citations omitted).
By limiting privileged documents to those that contain “opinions, recommendations or
advice,” courts have allowed discovery of “documents containing factually based information
used in the decision-making process or disseminated to legislators or committees, such as
committee reports and minutes of meetings.” Id. at *6 (citations omitted). Courts have also
required disclosure of “the materials and information available [to lawmakers] at the time a
decision was made.” ACORN I, 2007 WL 2815810, at *4 (citing Village of Arlington Heights,
429 U.S. at n.20).
This approach strikes the proper balance between the need for public accountability and
the desire to avoid future timidity of lawmakers. Although always accountable to the public,
lawmakers must be able to confer in private. This court therefore concludes that the legislative
privilege shields from disclosure pre-decisional, non-factual communications that contain
opinions, recommendations or advice about public policies or possible legislation. It does not
protect facts or information available to lawmakers at the time of their decision.
In terms of the categories identified above, (1) information concerning the motives,
objectives, plans, reports and/or procedures used by lawmakers to draw the 2011 Map; and (2)
information concerning the identities of persons who participated in decisions regarding the 2011
Map, the need for the information is outweighed by the purposes of the qualified privilege. The
contrary is true of (3) the identities of experts and/or consultants retained to assist in drafting the
2011 Map and contractual agreements related thereto; and (4) objective facts upon which
lawmakers relied in drawing the 2011 Map. Indeed, much of this information is discoverable
under Rule 26(a)(2)(B)(ii) should defendants’ experts chose to rely on it.
As with any privilege, the legislative privilege can be waived when the parties holding
the privilege share their communications with an outsider. See ACORN I, 2007 WL 2815810, at
*4 (“the legislative privilege may be waived as to communications made in the presence of third
parties”) (citation omitted). “Where a legislative aide or staff member performs functions that
would be deemed legislative if performed by the legislator himself, the staff member is entitled
to the same privilege that would be available to the legislator.” Id. (citation omitted). Thus,
communications between Non-Parties and their staff retain their privileged status. See id. at *5.
Communications between Non-Parties and outsiders to the legislative process, however,
do not. This includes lobbyists, members of Congress and the Democratic Congressional
Campaign Committee (“DCCC”). Although these groups may have a heightened interest in the
outcome of the redistricting process, they could not vote for or against the Redistricting Act, nor
did they work for someone who could. As such, the legislative privilege does not apply. See
Rodriguez, 280 F. Supp. 2d at 101 (“a conversation between legislators and knowledgeable
outsiders, such as lobbyists, to mark up legislation [is] a session for which no one could seriously
The same rule applies to experts and/or consultants retained or utilized by Non-Parties to
assist in the redistricting process. “While legislators are certainly free to seek information from
outside sources, they may not assume that every such contact is forever shielded from view. . . .
[A] contrary ruling would allow a legislator to cloak any communication with legislative
privilege by simply retaining an outsider in some capacity.” ACORN I, 2007 WL 2815810, at
*6. Thus, to the extent that Non-Parties relied on reports or recommendations generated by
outside consultants to draft the 2011 Map, they waived their legislative privilege as to these
Finally, Non-Parties cannot invoke the privilege as to themselves yet allow others to use
the same information against plaintiffs at trial. See, e.g., Brown v. City of Detroit, 259 F. Supp.
2d 611, 623–24 (E.D. Mich. 2003); Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. Lynch, No. C-01-3023, 2002 WL
32812098, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 19, 2002). As such, any communications disclosed by NonParties to defendants or their trial experts, upon which defendants or their experts intend to rely,
must be disclosed to plaintiffs. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 26(a)(2)(B)(ii).10
Plaintiffs’ motion to compel enforcement of third party subpoena [Dkt. No. 52] and
certain non-parties’ motion to quash subpoenas and for a protective order [Dkt. No. 58] are
granted in part and denied in part, respectively. Non-parties are directed to comply with this
order by October 19, 2011, specifically as follows:
To the extent that plaintiffs seek documents containing the (1) motives, objectives, plans,
reports and/or procedures created, formulated or used by lawmakers to draw the 2011 Map prior
to the passage of the Redistricting Act;11 or (2) identities of persons who participated in decisions
regarding the 2011 Map,12 their requests are denied and the subpoenas are quashed. Plaintiffs
are also prohibited from subpoenaing the aforementioned documents from individual members
of the General Assembly unless the member affirmatively waives his or her legislative privilege
Non-Parties indicated that to the extent the legislative privilege did not shield them from
discovery, they would likely assert attorney-client privilege or work product immunity. This decision
addresses only the legislative privilege raised in the motions. If Non-Parties have a serious basis for
asserting any other privilege, this decision does not foreclose them.
See Req. Nos. 1– 6, 8, 14–17. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
See Req. Nos. 7, 9–11, 20–21. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
The motion to compel is granted and the motion to quash is denied as to documents
containing objective facts upon which lawmakers relied in drawing the 2011 Map;13 documents
available to members of the General Assembly at the time the Redistricting Act was passed; the
identities of experts and/or consultants retained by Non-Parties to assist in drafting the 2011 Map
and contractual agreements related thereto;14 and any documents that do not contain information
concerning categories (1) or (2) above or to which Non-Parties have waived their legislative
privilege. This order is applicable only to those parties served with subpoenas issued by the
Northern District of Illinois.
All documents withheld as privileged under this order shall be identified in a privilege
log that contains (1) the name and capacity of each individual from whom or to whom a
document was communicated; (2) the date of the document and attachments; (3) the type of
document; (4) Bates number identification; and (5) a description of the subject matter in
sufficient detail to allow the receiving parties to determine whether the privilege claim should be
challenged. See Petrovic v. City of Chicago, No. 06-C-611, 2007 WL 2410336, at *2 (N.D. Ill.
Aug. 21, 2007).
Enter: October 12, 2011
___/s/ John Daniel Tinder_____________
JUDGE JOHN DANIEL TINDER
United States Court of Appeals
See Req. Nos. 2 & 4. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
See Req. Nos. 12–13, 18–19. [Doc. No. 52-1.]
for the Seventh Circuit
JUDGE ROBERT L. MILLER
United States District Court
for the Northern District of Indiana
JUDGE JOAN HUMPHREY LEFKOW
United States District Court
for the Northern District of Illinois