What's at Stake
Whether plaintiffs are entitled to attorneys’ fees for obtaining a preliminary injunction that allowed them to go forward with a planned demonstration based, in significant part, on the discriminatory application of permit regulations that were later upheld as facially valid. DECIDED
This case began when plaintiffs were denied a permit to conduct a political protest on a Florida beach. Plaintiffs sought and obtained a preliminary injunction allowing the demonstration to go forward, based in significant part on the trial court’s finding that the permit rules were applied in a content-based fashion. Plaintiffs were then were awarded attorneys’ fees for the time spent on the preliminary injunction, even though the permit rules were subsequently upheld as facially valid. Local officials, supported by the Justice Department, are now arguing that fees can never be awarded for a preliminary injunction that does not lead to a final decision on the merits in plaintiffs’ favor. That position is contrary to the language, history, and judicial understanding of the federal attorneys’ fees act, according to the ACLU, which represents plaintiffs in this action.