Parsons v. U.S. Dep’t of Justice, No. 14-1848 (6th Cir. Sept. 17, 2015).
Four Juggalos, plus the two members of the Insane Clown Posse, sued the DOJ and FBI for identifying Juggalos as a “loosely organized hybrid gang.” This identification, the plaintiffs say, led to their harassment by state and local law enforcement. One of the plaintiffs, a corporal in the Army with visible Juggalo tattoos, fears that he will be disciplined or discharged.
The plaintiffs assert claims under the APA and First and Fifth Amendments. The district court dismissed these claims for lack of Article III standing.
The Sixth Circuit now reverses that dismissal. The familiar three-part test for constitutional standing requires a concrete “injury in fact,” a causal connection between the defendant’s wrong and the plaintiff’s injury, and a likelihood that the injury will be redressed by a favorable court decision. All three elements are satisfied here. The Juggalos have plausibly alleged reputational injury, which is a sufficient injury in fact. They have alleged that the designation of Juggalos as a gang motivated law enforcement to harass them, which is enough of a causal connection to establish standing. A judicial decision setting aside the gang designation would redress the Juggalos’ injuries. Sure, maybe Juggalos don’t have a great reputation anyway, but standing doctrine’s redressability requirement just requires a plaintiff to show that a favorable decision will improve some increment of a bad reputation. The Juggalos don’t have to show that a favorable decision will wipe their reputational slate entirely clean.
The federal government also filed a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) for failure to state a claim. The case is remanded for the district court to rule on the 12(b)(6) motion.
Congratulations to the ACLU of Michigan for another appellate victory.