US District judge denies DAAP’s temporary restraining order application

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Update 4/1/16: This article has been updated to reflect an order from U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria issued Friday.

On Friday, a U.S. District Court judge denied the Defend Affirmative Action Party its application for a temporary restraining order, or TRO, that aimed to halt the 2016 ASUC elections.

Eleven DAAP candidates filed a lawsuit as well as a motion for a temporary restraining order Wednesday against the UC Board of Regents, UC President Janet Napolitano, Chancellor Nicholas Dirks and various ASUC officials, alleging that the defendants had violated DAAP’s freedom of speech, freedom of association and equal protection.

DAAP candidates made the decision to file the lawsuit after the ASUC Elections Council reclassified the candidates as independents March 13, citing the party’s failure to file an online endorsement form and party filing fee on time. DAAP alleged that the Elections Council had discriminated against the party, as it did not grant DAAP’s appeal yet validated CalSERVE ASUC Senate candidate Danielle Miguel’s endorsement form after it was rejected in error.

After the plaintiffs filed the lawsuit, U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria issued a Thursday order asking the defendants’ counsels to make themselves available Saturday afternoon should the court hold oral argument, which “leaves open the possibility that the judge may issue an immediate injunction … before Monday,” said Ronald Cruz, DAAP’s attorney, in an email.

Chhabria, however, denied DAAP’s application Friday and stated in his denial order that DAAP had “not shown a likelihood of success … on the merits of their First Amendment claims” or the party’s Title IX claim.

“(It) appears that there were reasons other than viewpoint discrimination for the ASUC Elections Committee to treat DAAP and CalSERVE differently,” Chhabria stated in the order.

Chhabria also stated that enjoining an impending ASUC election was not in the public interest and that DAAP candidates delayed in seeking a TRO, waiting two weeks after the ASUC Judicial Council denied the party’s appeal to reclassify its candidates as DAAP candidates rather than independents.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof and ASUC Attorney General Alek Klimek declined to comment on the litigation. A UC spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

The UC regents, Napolitano and Dirks were originally ordered to file their response to DAAP’s TRO application by Saturday. Chhabria ordered the defendants to specifically address the viewpoint neutrality of ASUC election regulations, whether DAAP “unreasonably delayed in seeking a TRO” and whether the court could feasibly order a new election.

After denying DAAP its TRO application Friday, however, Chhabria stated in his order that the UC defendants could disregard his initial order for a response to DAAP’s application.

The involved parties must appear at a case-management conference Tuesday, according to Chhabria’s Friday order.

Check back for updates.

Andrea Platten is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @andreaplatten.