Respected Amici Offer Support for Budget Autonomy


I wanted to give you an important update on our work to defend the local budget autonomy law in the lawsuit now pending in the Federal District Court.

On Friday, we and three of our Board Members helped to coordinate the filing of three separate amicus curiae briefs with Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan. Judge Sullivan is presiding over the D.C. Council’s lawsuit seeking enforcement of the budget autonomy law that was overwhelmingly ratified by the people last year. These three briefs were filed on behalf of public interest organizations, prominent legal professionals, and respected public officials. We think having these three key constituencies weigh in will be helpful to the Court in deciding the case.

First, DC Appleseed joined with DC Vote, D.C. for Democracy, the DC Fiscal Policy Institute, and the League of Women Voters of the District of Columbia in supplementing the Council’s arguments that the Charter Amendment is within the District’s authority. The brief also argues that the Mayor and CFO cannot refuse to enforce a law duly enacted pursuant to the process prescribed by Congress itself in the Home Rule Act. Arent Fox and DC Appleseed Board Chair Jon Bouker are representing DC Appleseed and other amici on this brief.

Second, Dr. Alice Rivlin, former Mayor Anthony Williams, and former Congressman Tom Davis joined in a brief that did not address the legal merits of the case, but discussed the importance of local budget autonomy, and the broad bipartisan support for it. They conclude by “urg[ing] this Court to enforce the Budget Autonomy Act absent a compelling showing of legal invalidity.” Dr. Rivlin, Mayor Williams, and Congressman Davis are being represented by DC Appleseed Board Member Rick Bress and Latham & Watkins.

Third, seven respected members of the D.C. bar filed a brief highlighting the District’s long and arduous path to self-governance, and urged the Court to construe the District’s authority broadly under the Home Rule Act. These amici are Marc Fleischaker, Ronald C. Jessamy, Carolyn B. Lamm, Charles A. Miller, Paul M. Smith, Daniel Solomon, and Bruce V. Spiva. DC Appleseed Board Member Lorie Masters and Perkins Coie are representing these amici.

Judge Sullivan will hold a hearing on the case on May 14. We hope the information and arguments provided by these esteemed amici will help the Charter Amendment and the people’s will prevail in this lawsuit.

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