During Thursday's oral hearing on the Purple Line, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon repeatedly made clear that his main objection to the project was the cost to federal taxpayers. Purple Line NOW Vice President Greg Sanders attended the hearing and reacted, “Judge Leon’s actions are the definition of legislating from the bench. The Federal Transit Administration has determined that the fundamentals for the Purple Line are so good that it would be worth building, even in the theoretical extreme of no transfers from Metrorail. The legislative branch has also weighed in - Congress has appropriated $325 million dollars towards the eventual construction. Judge Leon seeks to substitute his judgment for those of transit experts, as well as elected officials from both the federal government and the state of Maryland, despite the fact that this is expressly forbidden by the National Environmental Policy Act.”
Purple Line NOW condemns Judge Leon’s renewed attempts to shut down the Purple Line by delaying a fair hearing for the project. Albert Ferlo, an attorney for the state of Maryland, pointed out that typically when judges are asked to place a hold on their own decision, they summarily deny the hold rather than draw the process out.
Purple Line NOW President Ralph Bennett remarked, “Judge Leon has obviously made up his mind about the Purple Line. This oral hearing and his threat of taking days or weeks to issue a decision, are a return to stalling tactics apparently intended to kill the project.”
Purple Line NOW Treasurer Tina Slater was agog at hearing the Judge Leon's logic, “If the stakes weren’t so high, it would be a joke worthy of Kafka. Judge Leon is using the National Environmental Protection Act to enforce his political view that we’re spending too much on transit. I’m not a lawyer and I don’t know what his stalling tactics will do to the attempt to get the stay, but I do know that the case for overturning his blatant disregard of precedent just got stronger." Slater continued, "Judge Leon may not care about our communities stuck in traffic and lacking a desperately needed east-west option to get to school or jobs, but we intend to keep fighting to connect our communities, which, incidentally, would bring in much more money in economic growth and new revenue than it costs to build the project.”
Purple Line NOW vows to continue its mission of speaking up for the many and diverse communities that would benefit from the Purple Line and educating the public as the fight moves to the appeals court.
Purple Line NOW was in attendance at the hearing and will continue to actively monitor the appeals process. We will send regular updates to you and ask that you follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and keep a keen eye on our website for all breaking news. As always, we run on a bare-bones budget and volunteer elbow-grease from board members and community volunteers alike. Join us, and if you can, consider a donation to Purple Line NOW. We appreciate you more than you know.
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