Judicial Watch and Clarice Feldman attempt to force D.C. government to obey the law

In the Bizarro World of the District of Columbia government, laws are optional, apparently.  But not if Clarice Feldman and Judicial Watch have anything to say about it.  Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner reports:

A nonprofit government watchdog is asking a federal appellate court to bar District of Columbia officials from spending tax dollars under a budget measure previously declared unconstitutional by a U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan.

Judicial Watch filed its motion Tuesday to intervene in the case on behalf of Clarice Feldman, a longtime D.C. resident.

The case revolves around a measure passed by the D.C. Council and signed by then-Mayor Vincent Gray, the Local Budget Autonomy Act of 2012. Gray reversed himself and declined to enforce the law after being advised by then-D.C. attorney General Irvin Nathan that it was unconstitutional.

The council then filed suit in federal court to compel Gray to enforce the law, but Judge Sullivan disagreed, ruling that "Mayor Vincent C. Gray, CFO Jeffrey S. DeWitt, the Council of the District of Columbia, its officers, agents, servants, employees and all persons in active concert or participation with them who receive actual notice of the injunction, are hereby permanently enjoined from enforcing the [law] pending further order of this Court …."

Case closed, you would think.  But not in D.C.  Mayor Gray’s successor, Mayor Muriel Bowser, voted for the law while on the Council, and is supporting its appeal.  Judicial Watch summarizes:

Simply put, Mayor Bowser disagrees with Mayor Gray and the District Court about the legality of the Budget Autonomy Act. The only way for Mayor Bowser to avoid the District Court’s injunction is for this Court to vacate the lower court’s ruling. She therefore asks the Court to do so.

In representing Feldman, Judicial Watch asks the court to recognize her interest in preventing the unlawful expenditure of taxpayer money, and argues that the D.C. government is no longer adequately representing its taxpayers:

Feldman has been a taxpayer and resident of the District since 1969. As a taxpayer, she has an indisputable interest in preventing the unlawful expenditure of taxpayer money. Until this Court rules otherwise, all money spent to enforce the Budget Autonomy Act will be done so unlawfully. All money appropriated under the Budget Autonomy Act will also be done so unlawfully. Therefore, Feldman seeks to defend the District Court’s injunction prohibiting the District from enforcing the Budget Autonomy Act and, thereby, from expending taxpayer money unlawfully.

The underlying ruling by Judge Sullivan makes it clear that the D.C. Council – and, now, Mayor Bowser – is alleging an authority to change law that they plainly [do] not have:

Despite [a] long history of seeking budget autonomy through Congress, the Council now argues that since the Home Rule Act was enacted in 1973, it has possessed the authority to grant itself control over its own local spending. This argument, which the Council advances for the first time in this litigation, simply cannot withstand judicial scrutiny. As more fully set forth below, it is contrary to the plain language of the Home Rule Act, which prohibits the Council from changing the role of the federal government in the appropriation of the total budget of the District. It cannot be reconciled with the legislative history of the Home Rule Act, during which Congress explicitly considered, and rejected, budget autonomy for the District. And it violates a separate federal statute, the Anti- Deficiency Act, which prohibits District employees from spending public money unless it has been appropriated by Congress.

Violations of the Anti-Deficiency Act can carry criminal and civil penalties.

“Mayor Bowser and the D.C. Council are attempting a power grab to spend tax dollars without authority under law,” said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. “Our taxpayer client seeks to make sure no tax dollars are spent in violation of the well-established law that the Congress must appropriate the District of Columbia’s budget. D.C. taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for the corrupt political games of its Mayor and its D.C. Council.”

AT contributor Mark J. Fitzgibbons, coauthor (with Richard Viguerie) of The Law That Governs Government: Reclaiming The Constitution From Usurpers And Society's Biggest Lawbreaker, highlights the larger issue at stake:

"The rule of law is based on government not merely upholding, but following the law. When citizens don't follow laws that are inconvenient or disagreeable, they are nevertheless lawbreakers. This is but one example that government is society's most consistent lawbreaker," Fitzgibbons said.

In any contest with Clarice and Judicial Watch on one side and the hapless D.C. government on the other, my money is on Clarice.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com