Preliminary injunction of mascot bill denied in U.S. District Court

The request for a preliminary injunction against Colorado’s mascot bill has been denied in the U.S. District Court 10th District.
The ruling by Judge Regina M. Rodriguez eventually was posted on the federal court system’s electronic filing website Wednesday evening. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Senate Bill 21-116 had requested a ruling on the preliminary injunction request by November 30.

According to court filings, that date was requested because it was the deadline for impacted schools to file an intent to apply for BEST funds to help pay for the considerable cost of changing mascots. (Yuma-1 filed its intent well before the deadline. The district has $400,000 budgeted for the mascot change.)
It is expected the plaintiffs — the Native American Guardian’s Association, Yuma High School graduate Chase Roubideaux, Yuma pastor Don Smith, Lamar graduate Demetrius Marez, and two minors that are identified as John Doe and Jane Doe — will file an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Mountain States Legal Foundation is representing the plaintiffs.
The Yuma-1 Board of Education will discuss the situation, and how to move forward with selecting a new mascot, at its regular monthly meeting Monday night, December 6.
Yuma-1 initially had planned to select a new mascot at the Board of Education’s November meeting. However, NAGA and the other plaintiffs filed the lawsuit challenging the mascot law earlier in the month, then filed the request for the preliminary injunction a few days later.
Chrisman had been scheduled to visit remotely on November 9 with the Colorado Commission of Indian Affairs about the likelihood of “Tribe” being accepted as Yuma-1’s new mascot/team name. However, the CCIA removed Yuma and other schools from the agenda, as it was changed to an executive session for the CCIA to discuss the lawsuit. CCIA Executive Director Kathryn Redhorse is named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
Schools impacted by the mascot bill have to go through the CCIA to get removed from the “non-compliant” list by the June 1, 2022 deadline.
Besides Redhorse, others named as defendants are Governor Jared Polis, Colorado State Treasurer Dave Young, Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser, Commissioner of Education Katy Enthes, and Georgina Owen, who is the Title VII state coordinator for the Department of Education.
Judge Rodriguez ruled the request for the preliminary injunction did not meet the requirement of irreparable harm to the plaintiffs if the injunction is denied. A party seeking a preliminary injunction must meet four factors. Irreparable harm is one, the others being “a substantial likelihood of success on the merits,” “the threatened injury outweighs the harms that the preliminary injunction may cause the opposing party,” and, “the injunction, if issued, will not adversely affect the public interest.”
While Judge Rodriguez denied the request on the irreparable harm factor, she wrote in a footnote “the Court notes that the remaining factors likely weigh in favor of the Defendants as well.”
The judge wrote that the alleged harm would be to the schools, not to the plaintiffs themselves. She also noted that the request was made for the enforcement of a law that was enacted through the democratic process (passed by the Colorado Senate and House, and signed by the governor), and therefore “it should not be decided on an expedited and abbreviated process.”
The ruling noted the new law is enforced June 1, 2022, so the plaintiffs were asking for an emergency order for an action that is not currently being taken by the defendants.
As for the lawsuit itself that argues the mascot bill violates First and 14th amendment rights, no type of hearing date has been set yet.