D.C. council v. D.C. mayor: A very interesting local constitutional crisis

The Post covered this last week, right before the lawsuit (Council of the District of Columbia v. Gray) was filed:

The D.C. Council will sue Mayor Vincent C. Gray and the city’s chief financial officer, the council chairman said Wednesday, setting up the first such legal showdown between the city’s two branches of government in a decade.

Council Chairman Phil Mendelson (D) said the council will ask a D.C. Superior Court judge to determine whether Gray (D) and CFO Jeffrey S. DeWitt are violating a voter-approved law that allows the city to spend billions of dollars of its own money without strict congressional approval.

Under the measure approved last year — which was signed by Gray and passed a congressional review period — the District no longer needs to submit its budget to the president and Congress for approval. … Now, the budget would pass the council, just as any other city legislation, and it would take effect unless Congress voted to reject it and the president agreed.

But last week, DeWitt joined Gray, Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan and the Government Accountability Office in saying the measure had no legal effect because it violates the city’s charter, set by Congress …

A very interesting D.C. equivalent of a state constitutional crisis, with a great deal at stake practically as well as formally; my Mayer Brown LLP colleagues Brian Netter and Breanne Gilpatrick, together with Karen Dunn and Alexander Platt of Bioles, Schiller & Flexner, are handling the case pro bono on behalf of the D.C. Council. If you’re interested, you can see

  1. the Complaint,
  2. Exhibit E (the last exhibit) of the Complaint, which contains the D.C. Attorney General’s opinion arguing that the voter-approved budget law violates the charter,
  3. the Motion for Preliminary Injunction, which argues that the voter-approved budget law is consistent with the charter, and
  4. the Motion to Remand, just filed yesterday; the mayor had removed the case from D.C. court to federal district court, but the plaintiffs are arguing that the federal district court doesn’t have subject-matter jurisdiction.
Eugene Volokh teaches free speech law, religious freedom law, church-state relations law, a First Amendment Amicus Brief Clinic, and tort law, at UCLA School of Law, where he has also often taught copyright law, criminal law, and a seminar on firearms regulation policy.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read National
Next Story
David Bernstein · April 22