U.S. Department of Labor
U.S. Department of Labor (Mike Scarcella/ The National Law Journal)

The U.S. Justice Department has until late August to decide whether to appeal a nationwide injunction blocking a new labor rule that requires greater disclosure of discussions between employers and lawyers who try to counter union-organizing campaigns.

But, before that deadline, the government must actually respond to the complaint. On Thursday, the Texas judge who issued the injunction on June 27 declined to give the government more time to respond to the suit.

The government has an Aug. 26 deadline to decide whether to file an appeal in the suit, brought by the National Federation of Independent Business and backed by 10 state attorneys general.

With deadlines approaching later this month, the Justice Department wanted an extension to Sept. 2. That later deadline to respond to the complaint would “conserve the court’s and the parties’ resources” as the Labor Department decides whether to take the action to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, government lawyers argued.

Lawyers for the persuader rule’s challengers smelled gamesmanship.

In a response, the plaintiffs’ lawyers suggested the government was seeking to delay the Texas action to give room for a ruling in a similar suit in Arkansas federal court. A lawsuit was also filed in Minnesota federal court—but the judge there refused the plaintiffs request for an injunction. Another ruling for the government could bolster any argument in the Fifth Circuit that the nationwide injunction should be struck.

“Perhaps one reason why defendants want an answer extension is because of activity in another lawsuit involving a challenge to the persuader rule, where defendants feel they may get a more favorable ruling earlier,” the challengers wrote in court papers on Wednesday.

The Justice Department did not address that suspicion in its reply papers. The government argued that extending the deadline would not cause any harm to the plaintiffs and “would allow the parties and the court to consider the best approach to take with regard to the remainder of this case should a notice of appeal be filed.”

U.S. District Judge Cummings in the Northern District of Texas on Thursday afternoon rejected the government’s request.

“Judge Cummings probably wanted to make sure this case kept moving. He likes to keep cases on a pretty short fuse,” Fernando Bustos, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told The National Law Journal. “The order was reflective of that style of case management rather than, perhaps, the interaction with the Arkansas case.”

The U.S. Justice Department has until late August to decide whether to appeal a nationwide injunction blocking a new labor rule that requires greater disclosure of discussions between employers and lawyers who try to counter union-organizing campaigns.

But, before that deadline, the government must actually respond to the complaint. On Thursday, the Texas judge who issued the injunction on June 27 declined to give the government more time to respond to the suit.

The government has an Aug. 26 deadline to decide whether to file an appeal in the suit, brought by the National Federation of Independent Business and backed by 10 state attorneys general.

With deadlines approaching later this month, the Justice Department wanted an extension to Sept. 2. That later deadline to respond to the complaint would “conserve the court’s and the parties’ resources” as the Labor Department decides whether to take the action to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, government lawyers argued.

Lawyers for the persuader rule’s challengers smelled gamesmanship.

In a response, the plaintiffs’ lawyers suggested the government was seeking to delay the Texas action to give room for a ruling in a similar suit in Arkansas federal court. A lawsuit was also filed in Minnesota federal court—but the judge there refused the plaintiffs request for an injunction. Another ruling for the government could bolster any argument in the Fifth Circuit that the nationwide injunction should be struck.

“Perhaps one reason why defendants want an answer extension is because of activity in another lawsuit involving a challenge to the persuader rule, where defendants feel they may get a more favorable ruling earlier,” the challengers wrote in court papers on Wednesday.

The Justice Department did not address that suspicion in its reply papers. The government argued that extending the deadline would not cause any harm to the plaintiffs and “would allow the parties and the court to consider the best approach to take with regard to the remainder of this case should a notice of appeal be filed.”

U.S. District Judge Cummings in the Northern District of Texas on Thursday afternoon rejected the government’s request.

“Judge Cummings probably wanted to make sure this case kept moving. He likes to keep cases on a pretty short fuse,” Fernando Bustos, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, told The National Law Journal. “The order was reflective of that style of case management rather than, perhaps, the interaction with the Arkansas case.”