United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina
FRANCIS R. WALKER, Plaintiff,
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE and DIRECTOR PASSPORT SERVICES, DEPT. OF STATE, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Catherine E. Eagles, District Judge.
the State Department refused to renew his passport, the
plaintiff, Francis Russell Walker, filed suit asking that
defendants Rex Tillerson, the United States Secretary of
State, and Karen Pizza, the Director of Passport Services, be
compelled to issue a passport to him. Mr. Walker also asks
the Court to declare unconstitutional “any law which
prohibits the issuance or invalidation of a U.S. Passport
absent criminal nexus” as violating his individual
right to international travel. The Secretary acted within his
authority to deny Mr. Walker a passport and none of the
identified statutes are unconstitutional as applied. Summary
judgment for the defendants is appropriate.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
2017, Mr. Walker submitted an application to renew his
passport. Doc. 39 at 4-5; Doc. 16-2. He listed his most
recent passport book number as XXXXX and his Social Security
Number as 000 00 0000. Doc. 39 at 4.
10, 2017, he received a letter from the National Passport
Center asking him to certify that he had never been issued a
social security number. Doc. 10 at ¶ 9.He signed the
statement and returned it. Doc. 10 at ¶ 10; Doc. 39 at
Walker filed this lawsuit in August 2017. Doc. 2. He asked
for an “Order in Mandamus, ” requiring the U.S.
Passport Agency to issue a passport and sought other
declaratory relief. Doc. 2 at ¶ 16-17.
September 2017, the Department again asked Mr. Walker to
certify that he had never been issued a social security
number. Doc. 39 at 13-14. In response, Mr. Walker submitted a
second affidavit asserting that he had never been issued a
social security number. Doc. 39 at 13-14. By letter dated
September 25, 2017, the State Department denied Mr.
Walker's passport renewal application because he failed
to provide his correct social security number. Doc. 10 at 10
(letter from Karen Pizza, Director, National Passport Center
to Mr. Walker).
Walker then filed an amended complaint in October 2017. Doc.
10. In his amended complaint, he seeks injunctive and
declaratory relief, specifically an order compelling the
defendants to issue him a passport and declaring
unconstitutional all laws prohibiting issuance of a passport
“absent criminal nexus.” Doc. 10 at ¶¶
government filed a motion to dismiss, or in the alternative a
motion for summary judgment, pointing to evidence indicating
that Mr. Walker does have a social security number. Doc. 15.
After briefing was complete, the Court gave notice of its
intent to convert the motion to a summary judgment motion and
gave the parties an opportunity to provide additional
evidence and for the government to submit a declaration or
other evidence authenticating Exhibit C to its brief. Doc.
27. The defendants thereafter filed additional evidence, all
of which tended to show that Mr. Walker had a social security
number. Docs. 36, 37, 38, 39. Mr. Walker responded. Doc. 40.
Mr. Walker has also filed a motion for sanctions,
Doc. 29, and a motion for judgment on the pleadings. Doc. 24.
pending motions are now ripe for decision.
Court construes Mr. Walker's complaint as asserting the
following claims. First, he seeks an order compelling the
defendants to issue him a passport pursuant to 8 U.S.C.
§ 1503, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, and 28 U.S.C. §
2201. Doc. 10 at ¶¶ 29-30. Second, he seeks judicial
review of the State Department's agency action denying
him a passport, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act.
See Doc. 10 at ¶¶ 7-23 (implying that his
application was denied in an arbitrary fashion). Third, he
asks for a declaratory judgment that any laws prohibiting the
issuance of a passport “absent criminal nexus, ”
be declared unconstitutional as “a violation of the
privileges clause, Ninth Amendment, a Bill of Attainder in
violation of Article 1 Section 9 of the United States
Constitution and a violation of the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights.” Doc. 10 at ¶ 30.
While not completely clear, the Court also construes his
complaint as raising a substantive due process claim.
Does Mr. Walker have a SSN?
factual matter, all of Mr. Walker's claims rest on his
factual assertion that he has no social security number. He
has affirmed several times that he has never been issued a
SSN by the Social Security Administration. Doc. 39 at 7
(affidavit certifying that he has never been issued a SSN);
Doc. 39 at 13 (same). He has made similar statements
throughout the pleadings:
• Doc. 10 at ¶ 18 (Mr. Walker's amended
complaint) (“Francis R. Walker was never issued a SSN
and Walker has stated that fact at least three times under
penalty of perjury.”)
• Doc. 39 at 16-17 (letter from Mr. Walker to Ms. Pizza)
(“I have never been issued a Social Security number and
you know it, ” and “Francis R. Walker has never
been issued a Social Security number and I defy you to prove
• Doc. 30 at 3 (Mr. Walker's motion for Rule 11
sanctions) (“Francis R. Walker has NEVER applied for a
Social Security number so I know that not only does it not
exist but that it never has existed.”).
record in this case, however, contains direct evidence to the
contrary. In his request and affidavit to proceed in
forma pauperis, Mr. Walker states under oath that his
only income comes from Social Security payments. Doc. 1 at 2
(“I … have been receiving Social Security since
I was 62. I currently receive approximately XXXXX”).
Under federal law, it is not possible to receive Social
Security benefits without possessing or obtaining a social
security number. See 20 C.F.R. § 404.469
(“No monthly benefits will be paid to an entitled
individual unless he or she either furnishes to the Social
Security Administration (SSA) satisfactory proof of his or
her Social Security number, or, if the individual has not
been assigned a number, he or she makes a proper application
for a number.”).
addition, the defendants have presented a plethora of
evidence that Mr. Walker has a SSN. The defendants produced
evidence that Mr. Walker used his 2006 passport - the very
passport Mr. Walker wants to renew -- and a social security
card to obtain a Tennessee driver license in 2009. Doc. 19 at
application, submitted under the name Russell Francis Walker,
included five documents as a means of identification:
• a Social Security card (with the SSN of XXXXX) bearing
the name Russell F. Walker, Doc. 19 at 5;
• a U.S. passport issued to Francis Russell Walker,
passport number.XXXXX, Doc. 19 at 5;
• a N.C. driver license issued to Russell Francis
Walker, Doc. 19 at 5;
• a Tennessee vehicle title indicating that Russell
Walker holds title to a 2004 Ford ...