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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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San Francisco Suit Over Justice Department Guidance Tossed

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A federal judge on Monday dismissed another in a line of San Francisco’s challenges to the Trump administration, this time ruling the city cannot prove actual injury stemming from the Justice Department’s rescission of its guidance on civil rights laws.

The Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington (AP Photo/J. David Ake, File)

San Francisco sued over the repeal in April, after then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded 25 guidance documents explaining the department’s interpretation of laws protecting immigrants, the poor, people of color and people with disabilities. The city said Sessions had an obligation under the Administrative Procedure Act to give reasons why the guidance documents were rescinded.

“The Trump administration is trying to gut protections for the poor, people of color and people with disabilities under the guise of regulatory reform,” City Attorney Dennis Herrera said at the time. “It’s appalling.”

At minimum, Herrera said, the city was at least entitled to an explanation. Without these documents, the city will have no direction from the federal government on how to enforce laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The harm is the uncertainty,” San Francisco’s lawyer Kenneth Walczak told U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar at a hearing on the federal government’s motion to dismiss last week. “We are in a position where the uncertainty is harming us now.”

In his ruling Monday, Tigar said uncertainty isn’t enough.

“To the extent the city seeks to rely on regulatory uncertainty alone as a threat to its concrete interest, the court finds that theory unavailing,” Tigar wrote.

He said the city failed to give a concrete example of how it has been harmed by the Justice Department’s action, economic or otherwise, in a way “that is not overly speculative.”

He also ruled the city doesn’t have standing to challenge the rescission, rejecting the city’s argument that it is entitled to “special solicitude” which loosens standing requirements for states suing the federal government. Tigar said San Francisco cannot use this argument as it is not a state.

“The city provides no authority suggesting that ‘special solicitude’ applies to municipalities in the standing inquiry,” Tigar wrote.

Tiger granted the city leave to amend. The City Attorney’s office did not return a call seeking comment.

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Categories / Courts, Government

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