This is a tense and frustrating period for the Purple Line. We have high hopes for the appeal of Judge Leon’s illogical decision, but any judicial debates amongst the D.C. Circuit Court judges will appropriately be secret until a decision is announced. Nonetheless, for advocates, there are issues to watch that will help us understand and explain to friends and neighbors what is happening, and by so doing, to keep hope for this needed project alive.
Will the Appeals Court Place a Stay on Judge Leon’s Injunction?
As the Washington Post opined, Judge Leon’s ruling against the Purple Line is “shot through with illogic and heedless of precedent” and “is an excellent candidate for reversal on appeal.” Specifically, as reported in Bethesda Magazine, the court violated the Supreme Court’s warning against substituting a judge’s personal opinion for that of federal experts. Maryland has asked the appellate court to place a stay on Judge Leon’s ruling and reinstate the project’s environmental approval. This would not be the final decision on the appeal, but would allow Maryland to pursue the full funding grant agreement it was on the verge of receiving from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) before the district court’s intervention.
Will the Schedule for the Appeal be Expedited?
The stay is important, because Maryland laid out challenges to paying for the Purple Line without planned federal aid, challenges that may come to a head in August. That said, a stay would be a temporary measure during the pendency of the appeal. Maryland has proposed an expedited schedule for the appeal, with briefs due from the parties between July 20th to August 24th, and possible oral arguments shortly thereafter. The next news on the case may be whether the court accepts this schedule or lays out a longer timeline.
Will the money be there?
The Trump Administration, in direct violation of infrastructure pledges during the campaign, had sought massive cuts in federal transit spending. They folded on that effort for the current fiscal year, and the omnibus compromise included specific set asides for the Purple Line, which now has $325 million in funds appropriated for it. However, this will be an ongoing fight as the latest bill out of the House would again reduce funding for new transit projects in the next fiscal year. We’ll need our Congressional delegation to continue to persevere to make sure that funding is included in the final budget.
Purple Line NOW is staying abreast of all of these decisions and will bring you breaking news as it occurs. The best way to get the latest news? Follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and keep a keen eye on our website for all breaking news. We need your financial support now more than ever as we work hard to keep the project front and center in the eyes of our elected officials, the community at large, and all who have a stake in the success of the project. Please consider a donation to Purple Line NOW to help us continue that work. Thank you!