Public Citizen, NRDC, and Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, v. Donald Trump

Just 20 days into the Trump presidency, NRDC, Public Citizen, and the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, working with Earthjustice, sued President Trump and his administration to block an alarming executive order. Signed on January 30, the order directs that no federal agency may issue a significant new rule—regardless of the benefits—unless its costs are offset by the repeal of at least two existing rules.

This executive order, which is not authorized by any statute, will block, weaken, or delay new safeguards authorized and mandated by Congress across a broad range of environmental, health, consumer, and labor concerns. Although previous presidents have asked agencies to calculate the costs and benefits of particular rules, no president before Trump has ever tried to impose a regulatory cost cap or forced agencies to consider the costs of unrelated rules when creating a new one. And certainly no president has ever conditioned an agency’s issuance of a new rule on repealing two or more existing rules.

Our summary judgment brief on the merits contends that the executive order exceeds President Trump’s constitutional authority, violates his duty under the Take Care Clause of the Constitution, and directs federal agencies to engage in unlawful actions that will harm millions of Americans. We are asking the court to stop the administration from implementing and enforcing the order.

On February 26, 2018, the court dismissed our complaint on procedural grounds—holding that the plaintiffs had not yet shown that Trump’s executive order was injuring them—but left the door open to a future challenge. On April 2, the plaintiffs filed a motion for leave to file a second, amended complaint. We argued that the amended complaint sufficiently establishes standing, and requested that the court reconsider the summary judgment motion.

On February 8, 2019, in an important step forward, the court agreed that plaintiffs had a plausible standing claim and denied the government’s motion to dismiss the case. The court also denied the motion for summary judgment, however, finding that plaintiffs need to introduce more proof that the Executive Order is injuring them and their members. After conducting additional factfinding on this issue, the plaintiffs renewed their summary judgment motion on standing.

Last Updated

June 18, 2019



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