by Paul Alan Levy
In the discussion of yesterday’s decision rejecting a lawsuit by the DC Council against Mayor Vincent Gray, I found a procedural puzzlement. The City Council sued Gray for a declaratory judgment and an injunction compelling him to comply with the Local Budget Autonomy Act; Gray counterclaimed for a declaratory judgment that the Act was invalid and an injunction against the Council, forbidding it from trying to enforce the Act. And Judge Sullivan, although stressing that he felt sorrow at the conclusions that the law impelled him to draw, not only ruled in Gray’s favor on thelegal issue, but then issued an injunction against Gray, forbidding him from complying with the Budget Autonomy Act.
Who asked Judge Sullivan to issue that injunction against Gray? Who, indeed, had standing to seek that injunction? So far as I can see from the docket, there were no intervenors, and besides, given Gray’s legal position, it is hard to see how the judge could have found any likelihood that Gray would voluntarily comply with the DC statute, and thus a legal reason to issue an injunction against him.
And although Judge Sullivan’s declaratory judgment in Gray’s favor and against the council would be precedent should Gray’s successor take a different legal position, Judge Sullivan’s injunction against the mayor in his official capacity might well run against his successor under Federal Rule 25(d). Why was that injunction legally justified?