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Duberry v. District of Columbia

United States District Court, District of Columbia

May 28, 2015

RONALD E. DUBERRY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING DEFENDANTS' MOTION TO DISMISS; DENYING AS MOOT PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR ORAL ARGUMENT Re Document Nos.: 19, 26.

RUDOLPH CONTRERAS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

In this action, four retired correctional officers seek injunctive and declaratory relief that will require the District of Columbia Department of Corrections, their former employing agency, to classify them as retired "law enforcement officers" within the meaning of the federal Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act. They seek this classification so that, pursuant to local administrative procedures, they may obtain a current firearm certification, which, in turn, is required by the Act before retired law enforcement officers may carry concealed firearms across state lines. The defendants have moved to dismiss the action for lack of Article III and subject-matter jurisdiction or, alternatively, for failure to state a claim. Also before the Court is the plaintiffs' unopposed motion for oral argument.

The Court dismisses the plaintiffs' claims insofar as they seek relief on behalf of "future" retired correctional officers not presently before the Court, given that the plaintiffs lack third-party standing to seek such relief. The Court also dismisses all claims against the individual defendants in their official capacities, given that such claims are duplicative of those against the District of Columbia. In all other respects, the Court grants the motion to dismiss as to the claims against the District: Although the Court has Article III and subject-matter jurisdiction, the plaintiffs have failed to state a claim that the Department of Corrections, in refusing to classify them as retired "law enforcement officers, " violated a right enforceable under § 1983. Because the Court resolves all issues presented in the motion to dismiss, it denies as moot the plaintiffs' motion for oral argument.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Statutory Framework

In 2004, Congress enacted the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act ("LEOSA" or "the Act"). See LEOSA, Pub. L. 108-277, 118 Stat. 865 (2004), codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 926B et seq. Prior to LEOSA, the states took diverging positions on whether out-of-state law enforcement officers could carry concealed weapons within the state. H.R. Rep. No. 108-560, at 3 (2004). Against this backdrop, LEOSA mandated that all active and retired law enforcement officers would be able to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the United States subject to certain conditions, thereby overriding contrary state laws. See S. Rep. No. 108-29, at 4 (2003). The Act's purpose was two-fold-to protect active and retired officers and their families from "vindictive criminals, " and to enable such officers to "respond immediately" to crimes spanning multiple jurisdictions. Id.; see also H.R. Rep. No. 108-560, at 4 (2004).

Section 3 of LEOSA governs retired law enforcement officers, setting forth the conditions that they must satisfy in order to carry concealed firearms lawfully in any state. See LEOSA, Pub. L. 108-277, § 3, 118 Stat. 865, 866-67 (2004), codified at 18 U.S.C. § 926C. Subsection (a) identifies two overarching requirements-status as a "qualified retired law enforcement officer" and possession of certain identification documents:

Notwithstanding any other provision of the law of any State or any political subdivision thereof, an individual who is a qualified retired law enforcement officer and who is carrying the identification required by subsection (d) may carry a concealed firearm that has been shipped or transported in interstate or foreign commerce....

18 U.S.C. § 926C(a). The term "qualified retired law enforcement officer, " in turn, is defined in subsection (c). 18 U.S.C. § 926C(c). Included in this definition are requirements that the individual "separated from service in good standing... with a public agency as a law enforcement officer, " id. § 926C(c)(1), [1] and that "before such separation, " he had legal authority to prevent, investigate, prosecute, or incarcerate persons for violations of law, "and had statutory powers of arrest, " id. § 926C(c)(2). Subsection (d) provides individuals with two options for satisfying its identification requirements. Relevant here is the second option, set forth at subsection (d)(2), which requires possession of two documents-a photographic identification and a firearm certification:

(A) a photographic identification issued by the agency from which the individual separated from service as a law enforcement officer that identifies the person as having been employed as a police officer or law enforcement officer; and
(B) a certification issued by the State in which the individual resides or by a certified firearms instructor that is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers within that State that indicates that the individual has, not less than 1 year before the date the individual is carrying the concealed firearm, been tested or otherwise found by the State or a certified firearms instructor that is qualified to conduct a firearms qualification test for active duty officers within that State to have met-
(I) the active duty standards for qualification in firearms training, as established by the State, to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm; or
(II) if the State has not established such standards, standards set by any law enforcement agency within that State to carry a firearm of the same type as the concealed firearm.

Id. § 926C(d)(2)(A), (B).[2]

In short, if an individual is a "qualified retired law enforcement officer" within the meaning of subsection (c) and also satisfies the identification requirements of subsection (d), then he may carry a concealed firearm in any state, notwithstanding any state law providing otherwise. See 18 U.S.C. § 926C(a), (c), (d).

B. Factual Background and Procedural History

Before their retirement, Ronald E. Duberry, Harold Bennette, Maurice Curtis, and Robert L. Smith (collectively "Plaintiffs") worked as correctional officers in the District of Columbia Department of Corrections ("DOC"). See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 15. In this capacity, Plaintiffs interacted daily with inmates and had authority to carry firearms, serve warrants, and make arrests on prison grounds. See id. ¶¶ 26-27, 30-32. While employed by DOC, Plaintiffs were issued identification cards indicating their status as law enforcement officers and stating that D.C. Code § 24-205 authorized them "to make arrest." See Duberry Identification Card, Pls.' Ex. A, ECF No. 23-1; see also Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 61, 66, 71, 76.

Beginning in November 2012, Plaintiffs individually sought to enjoy the concealed carry right that they believed LEOSA afforded them. See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 48-59. Duberry, Bennette, and Curtis reside in Prince George's County, Maryland, [3] while Smith resides in the District of Columbia. See id. ¶¶ 8-11. Both Prince George's County and the District of Columbia issue permits allowing resident retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed firearms subject to the various conditions provided in LEOSA. See id. ¶ 47. Because Plaintiffs already possessed photographic identification identifying them as retired DOC correctional officers, they satisfied the requirements of subsection (d)(2)(A). See id. ¶ 56; Duberry Identification Card, Pls.' Ex. A. Accordingly, Plaintiffs sought to comply with subsection (d)(2)(B)'s firearm certification requirement. See 18 U.S.C. § 926C(d)(2)(B).

Before a Prince George's County or District of Columbia resident can seek the firearm certification required by subsection (d)(2)(B), however, he must first submit a prior employment certification form completed by the law enforcement agency for which he previously worked. See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶ 47. On this certification form, the agency must answer a series of questions by checking boxes for "yes" or "no." One question asks whether the applicant, while employed, possessed various authorities enumerated in subsection (c)(2) of LEOSA, including "statutory powers of arrest." Certification of Prior Law Enforcement Employment, Pls.' Ex. B, ECF No. 23-2.[4] Relatedly, another question asks whether the applicant was "regularly employed as a law enforcement officer" for the indicated duration of time. Id.

In response to both of these questions on Duberry's prior employment certification form, a DOC human resources officer checked the boxes for "no" and wrote that Duberry was "not a law enforcement officer." See Certification of Prior Law Enforcement Employment, Pls.' Ex. B; see also Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49-51, 55, 57.[5] DOC took the same position with respect to the other Plaintiffs. See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶ 55. In response to inquiries, a DOC official explained that DOC correctional officers have no "statutory powers of arrest" within the meaning of subsection (c)(2). See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 51, 55; see also 18 U.S.C. § 926C(c)(2). Plaintiffs' counsel sought reconsideration of this determination, to no avail. See Oliveria-Phelan emails of May 2014, Pls.' Ex. C, ECF No. 23-3; Bates-Phelan emails of June 2013, Pls.' Ex. D, ECF No. 23-4.

In July 2014, Plaintiffs initiated this action against the District of Columbia, Mayor Vincent Gray in his official capacity, and Director of DOC Thomas N. Faust in his official capacity (collectively "Defendants"). See generally Compl., ECF No. 1. The corrected amended complaint invokes 42 U.S.C. § 1983, alleges that Defendants violated Plaintiffs' rights under LEOSA, and seeks injunctive and declaratory relief in Counts I and II, respectively. See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 80-96. By way of relief, Plaintiffs request an order directing Defendants to "certify and/or acknowledge Plaintiffs as retired law enforcement officers" under LEOSA, and they additionally request that the Court make the order "applicable to all future former D.C. Department of Correction[s] Officers who otherwise meet the qualifications of LEOSA." Id. at 17. Plaintiffs also request a declaratory judgment stating that they are "retired law enforcement officers" under LEOSA. Id. The corrected amended complaint alleges that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, 28 U.S.C. § 1343(a)(3), 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and, as to the declaratory judgment, 28 U.S.C. § 2201(a) and § 2202. Id. ¶¶ 4-6.

Defendants moved to dismiss the corrected amended complaint, contending that Plaintiffs lack Article III standing, that this Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, that the individual defendants sued in their official capacities should be dismissed, and that the corrected amended complaint fails to state a claim. See Defs.' Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 19.[6] After the motion was fully briefed, Plaintiffs filed an unopposed motion for oral argument. See Mot. Oral Argument, ECF No. 26.

III. LEGAL STANDARDS

A. Rule 12(b)(1)

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and the law presumes that "a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction[.]" Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Thus, to survive a Rule 12(b)(1) motion to dismiss, a plaintiff bears the burden of establishing that a court has jurisdiction over his claim. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 103-04 (1998) (standing and Article III jurisdiction); Moms Against Mercury v. FDA, 483 F.3d 824, 828 (D.C. Cir. 2007) (subject-matter jurisdiction). In determining whether jurisdiction exists, a court may "consider the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or the complaint supplemented by undisputed facts plus the court's resolution of disputed facts." Coal. for Underground Expansion v. Mineta, 333 F.3d 193, 198 (D.C. Cir. 2003) (citations omitted).

B. Rule 12(b)(6)

To survive a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim, a complaint must contain sufficient factual allegations, accepted as true, to "state a claim to relief that is plausible on its face." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 570 (2007). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). Although a court generally cannot consider matters beyond the pleadings at the motion-to-dismiss stage, it may consider "documents attached as exhibits or incorporated by reference in the complaint, or documents upon which the plaintiff's complaint necessarily relies even if the document is produced not by the plaintiff in the complaint but by the defendant in a motion to dismiss[.]" Ward v. D.C. Dep't of Youth Rehab. Servs., 768 F.Supp.2d 117, 119 (D.D.C. 2011) (internal citations and quotation marks omitted).

IV. ANALYSIS

A. Jurisdiction

Defendants contest this Court's jurisdiction on two separate grounds. First, they contend that Plaintiffs lack standing, as required by Article III of the United States Constitution. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 9-19, ECF No. 19. Second, they argue that subject-matter jurisdiction is lacking under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because this case presents no federal question. Id. at 6-8. For the reasons given below, the Court rejects Defendants' challenges, except as to Plaintiffs' lack of standing to assert claims on behalf of "future" retired law enforcement officers.

1. Standing

Standing is "an essential and unchanging part of the case-or-controversy requirement of Article III." Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U.S. 555, 560 (1992). The party invoking federal court jurisdiction bears the burden to establish the three elements of standing, which are (1) that the plaintiff "suffered an injury in fact"; (2) a "causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of"; and (3) that it is "likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision." Id. at 560-61 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). At the motion-to-dismiss stage, "general factual allegations" supporting injury-in-fact, causation, and redressability suffice to establish standing, though the burden of proof grows heavier at successive stages of litigation. Id. at 561.

Here, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs have failed to satisfy two of the three standing elements-injury-in-fact and redressability. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 9-17. Additionally, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs lack standing to seek prospective injunctive relief on behalf of "future" retired DOC correctional officers who might seek under LEOSA to carry concealed firearms. See id. at 17-19. For the reasons given below, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief as to themselves, but not as to future retired correctional officers.

a. Injury-in-Fact

In Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife , the Supreme Court explained that the injury-in-fact required for standing is "an invasion of a legally protected interest which is (a) concrete and particularized and (b) actual or imminent, not conjectural or hypothetical." 504 U.S. at 560 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The Lujan Court also described this protected interest as a "cognizable interest." Id. at 562. Such an interest could consist of the mere "desire to use or observe an animal species" for "purely esthetic purposes, " though the Court went on to hold that the plaintiffs had not sufficiently shown themselves to be within this interested class. Id. at 562-67.

In Zivotofsky ex rel. Ari Z. v. Secretary of State, the D.C. Circuit held that a "colorable" allegation that a plaintiff was deprived of a statutory "right" sufficed to establish an injury-in-fact. 444 F.3d 614, 618-19 (D.C. Cir. 2006). In that case, Zivotofsky contended that her son had a statutory right to have "Israel" listed as his birthplace on his U.S. passport instead of "Jerusalem, " and that the Secretary of State's refusal to do so violated that right. Id. at 615-16. The court first explained that "Congress may create a statutory right or entitlement the alleged deprivation of which can confer standing to sue even where the plaintiff would have suffered no judicially cognizable injury in the absence of [the] statute." Id. at 617 (quoting Warth v. Seldin, 422 U.S. 490, 514 (1975)). The one limitation on such "statutory standing, " however, is that a plaintiff must assert a "particularized" injury, not a "generalized interest shared by all citizens in the proper administration of the law." Id. at 618. The court concluded that because Zivotofsky's allegation that her son had a right to have "Israel" listed as his birthplace was "at the least a colorable reading of the statute, " and because she alleged a violation of that "individual right, " her allegations were "sufficient for Article III standing." Id. at 619.

In Parker v. District of Columbia, the D.C. Circuit seemingly took a more generous approach, distinguishing the "cognizable interest" required for standing from an enforceable "legal right. " 478 F.3d 370, 377 (D.C. Cir. 2007). The Parker court concluded that the plaintiff had standing to challenge under § 1983 certain statutory classifications that prevented him from obtaining a firearm registration certificate, allegedly in violation of the Second Amendment. See id. at 377-78. The court reasoned that a "cognizable interest" is, consistent with Lujan 's other descriptors, concrete and actual and not so remote as a "generalized wish to see the Constitution and laws obeyed." Id. at 377. By contrast, the existence of a "legal right" is a matter for the merits and must be assumed for standing purposes. See id. (explaining that Lujan Court found a legal interest "without considering whether the plaintiffs had a legal right " to observe animal species); see also Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Senate, 432 F.3d 359, 363-66 (D.C. Cir. 2005) (Williams, J., concurring) (explaining that "legally protected" interest should not be understood to mean an interest "affirmatively protected by some positive law").

The Court recognizes a tension between Zivotofsky and Parker -a tension originating, at least partially, in the Lujan Court's grappling with the elusive boundaries of Article III standing. Compare Lujan, 504 U.S. at 578 (discussing statutorily created standing); accord Zivotofsky, 444 F.3d at 617, with Lujan, 504 U.S. at 562-63 (discussing a "cognizable interest"); accord Parker, 478 F.3d at 377. Zivotofsky suggests that courts may consider to some degree whether a plaintiff's assertion of a protected "individual right" is "at the least... colorable." Zivotofsky, 444 F.3d at 619. Parker, by contrast, limits the standing inquiry to ascertaining the existence of a "cognizable interest, " reserving any analysis of "legal rights" for the merits. Parker, 478 F.3d at 377. The two cases might be harmonized in this way: Zivotofsky could be read to mean that the alleged violation of a "colorable" legal right is "sufficient" for standing, but not necessary, Zivotofsky, 444 F.3d at 619, whereas Parker could stand for the principle that at a minimum, the invasion of a "cognizable interest" is necessary for standing, Parker, 478 F.3d at 377. On the other hand, Parker appears to counsel strongly against any analysis of the merits in the course of determining standing, such that a court could not even ask whether a plaintiff's claim is "colorable." See id. (calling "unsound" the Ninth Circuit's approach of determining existence of individual right for standing analysis and explaining that "when considering whether a plaintiff has Article III standing, a federal court must assume arguendo the merits of his or her legal claim" (emphasis added)).[7]

In any event, the Court today need not reconcile Zivotofsky and Parker because under either approach, Plaintiffs have asserted an injury-in-fact. Under Parker, the Court readily concludes that Plaintiffs have suffered an injury to their "cognizable interest" in proceeding with their applications to obtain the right to carry a concealed firearm, as permitted by LEOSA. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 562.[8] At the motion-to-dismiss stage, the Court must assume the truth of Plaintiffs' allegations: DOC has refused to classify them as former "law enforcement officers, " and both Prince George's County and the District require such classification before Plaintiffs can seek the firearm certification, which is in turn required by LEOSA for carrying a concealed firearm. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561; see Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 47-57. If injury to an individual's desire to observe animal species for "purely esthetic purposes" would have sufficed for standing in the Lujan Court's view, see Lujan, 504 U.S. at 562-63, then here, Defendants' alleged injury to Plaintiffs' desire to obtain rights to carry concealed firearms allegedly protected by LEOSA must suffice.[9] Nor does this case involve a "generalized wish to see the Constitution and laws obeyed": Plaintiffs have made efforts to effectuate their own (alleged) rights under LEOSA, efforts that they claim DOC has stymied. Parker, 478 F.3d at 377. Likewise, under Zivotofsky, Plaintiffs have standing because they have alleged the violation of a statutory right to be classified correctly as retired "law enforcement officers, " under their "colorable" reading of LEOSA. Zivotofsky, 444 F.3d at 619; see also infra Part IV.C (analyzing existence of a "right" enforceable under § 1983).[10]

Lastly, Defendants argue that the injury alleged by Plaintiffs is too "conjectural or hypothetical" to support standing to seek declaratory and injunctive relief. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted).[11] Specifically, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' allegations do not "demonstrate a current violation of law, much less... future violations, " and that Plaintiffs' claims that they will be "subjected to potential future threats" without the protection of a concealed firearm are purely speculative. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 17-18. But because all Plaintiffs have already been refused the prior employment certification requested from DOC and are still unable to proceed in obtaining a concealed carry permit, see Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 49-51, 55, 57, the injury to Plaintiffs' "cognizable interests" (or alleged "legal rights") has already occurred-and continues to occur, absent a change in DOC's legal position. Cf. City of Los Angeles v. Lyons, 461 U.S. 95, 105-10 (1983) (holding that a plaintiff challenging constitutionality of police arrest methods had standing to seek damages but not to seek declaratory and injunctive relief, in the absence of evidence that he would be arrested again or would otherwise be subjected to the same allegedly unlawful methods).

Plaintiffs' allegations suffice to establish the injury-in-fact required for standing under Article III, whether such injury impinges on their colorable "legal rights" or merely a "cognizable interest." Zivotofsky, 444 F.3d at 619; Parker, 478 F.3d at 377.

b. Causation

Standing further requires "a causal connection between the injury and the conduct complained of." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560. That is, the injury must be "fairly traceable to the challenged action of the defendant, and not the result of the independent action of some third party not before the court." Id. (alterations and citation omitted).

The parties do not dispute causation. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 9-17. The Court, however, cannot rely on the parties' silence, given that jurisdiction must be confirmed when in doubt. Steel Co., 523 U.S. at 93 (explaining that courts must raise jurisdictional issues sua sponte ). The Court nonetheless readily concludes that causation is satisfied. Plaintiffs allege that DOC's erroneous interpretation of LEOSA and resultant refusal to recognize Plaintiffs as retired "law enforcement officers" directly caused their injury-in-fact. See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 51, 55. No "lengthy chain of conjecture" undermines the alleged causal nexus. Fla. Audubon Soc. v. Bentsen, 94 F.3d 658, 670-72 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (concluding that wildlife organizations failed to establish causation in challenge to tax credits for alternative fuel additive that allegedly caused more ethanol production, which increased corn and sugar production, which in turn increased agricultural pollution, which would allegedly impact areas inhabited by wildlife).

c. Redressability

Lastly, a party seeking to establish standing must show that it is "likely, as opposed to merely speculative, that the injury will be redressed by a favorable decision." Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560-61 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). "[A] plaintiff does not have standing to sue when redress for its injury depends entirely on the occurrence of some other, future event made no more likely by its victory in court." Teton Historic Aviation Found. v. U.S. Dep't of Def., No. 13-5039, 2015 WL 2145859, at *5 (D.C. Cir. May 8, 2015).

Here again, the Court's analysis is straightforward. A "favorable decision" for Plaintiffs, Lujan, 504 U.S. at 561, would result in an order directing Defendants to "certify and/or acknowledge Plaintiffs as retired law enforcement officers" under LEOSA, Corr. Am. Compl. 17. This order would "likely" (if not certainly) enable Plaintiffs to obtain the prior employment certification from DOC indicating that they were indeed "law enforcement officers" under LEOSA, thereby remedying their injury-in-fact. Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560; see also Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 47-57; cf. Nat'l Chicken Council v. EPA, 687 F.3d 393, 396 (D.C. Cir. 2012) (concluding that petitioners representing consumers of livestock and poultry feed lacked standing to set aside EPA interpretation of statute promoting renewable fuels, where they could not show a "substantial probability" that a narrower statutory interpretation would reduce ethanol production, which would in turn lower corn demand and feed prices).

In their motion to dismiss, Defendants contend that Plaintiffs' alleged injury would not be redressable on grounds that the proposed relief would run afoul of the anti-commandeering doctrine. See generally Printz v. United States, 521 U.S. 898 (1997). LEOSA, Defendants contend, cannot be read to authorize an unconstitutional remedy that forces DOC officials to administer LEOSA's federal regulatory scheme. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 16-17. Once again, Defendants confuse the question of standing with whether Plaintiffs have stated a claim. Although the anti-commandeering doctrine bars Congress from commanding state officials "to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program, " Printz, 521 U.S. at 935, that doctrine in no way diminishes "the power of federal courts to order state officials to comply with federal law" because "the Constitution plainly confers this authority on the federal courts, " New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144, 179 (1992) (citing Article III). To the extent that the anti-commandeering doctrine plays into this case, it could be relevant to an interpretation of the scope and nature of rights created by LEOSA, given that courts must take care to avoid constitutional doubts when interpreting statutes. See Int'l Ass'n of Machinists v. Street, 367 U.S. 740, 749 (1961) ("Federal statutes are to be so construed as to avoid serious doubt of their constitutionality."). But questions concerning rights under LEOSA bear on a Rule 12(b)(6) analysis, not this discussion of redressability for Article III standing. See infra Part IV.C.3 (declining, however, to address the anti-commandeering doctrine in this case).[12]

d. Standing to Seek Injunctive Relief on Behalf of Future Retired Correctional Officers

Besides satisfying the three standing elements of injury-in-fact, causation, and redressability, a plaintiff "generally must assert his own legal rights and interests, and cannot rest his claim to relief on the legal rights or interests of third parties." Warth, 422 U.S. at 499; Kowalski v. Tesmer, 543 U.S. 125, 129 (2004) (assuming that standing requirements are satisfied before considering "the alternative threshold question whether [plaintiffs] have standing to raise the rights of others"). The prohibition on third-party standing helps ensure that plaintiffs have "the appropriate incentive" and assert their claims "with the necessary zeal and appropriate presentation." Kowalski, 543 U.S. at 129. This prohibition is relaxed, however, where "the party asserting the right has a close' relationship with the person who possesses the right" and where "there is a hindrance' to the possessor's ability to protect his own interests." Id. at 130 (citations omitted).

Here, Plaintiffs request that the order directing Defendants to "certify and/or acknowledge Plaintiffs as retired law enforcement officers" under LEOSA be made "applicable to all future former D.C. Department of Correction Officers who otherwise meet the qualifications of LEOSA." Corr. Am. Compl. 17 (emphasis added). Those "future" retired officers are, naturally, not presently before the Court, and Plaintiffs have not carried their burden to establish both a relationship to those future officers and a hindrance that prevents them from asserting their rights. See Kowalski, 543 U.S. at 130-34 (holding that future, hypothetical attorney-client relationship was not a "close" relationship and that attorneys failed to show any hindrance precluding indigent individuals from challenging state laws as future plaintiffs themselves); see also Lujan, 504 U.S. at 560 (holding that the party invoking federal court jurisdiction bears the burden to establish standing). Indeed, Plaintiffs have failed entirely to respond to Defendants' arguments on this issue. See Reply Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 7, ECF No. 24.

Accordingly, because Plaintiffs may not assert the rights of "future" retired DOC correctional officers, they lack standing to seek any declaratory and injunctive relief applicable to those officers.[13]

2. Subject-Matter Jurisdiction

The corrected amended complaint alleges that this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which grants district courts original jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the... laws... of the United States." See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶ 4. Federal courts "have an independent obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a challenge from any party." Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006). Here, of course, Defendants have advanced such a challenge, though the Court rejects it because this case squarely presents a federal question.

Defendants contend that this action implicates no federal question because DOC, in determining that Plaintiffs were not "law enforcement officers" with proper arrest powers, applied only D.C. law, not federal law. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 7-8. Defendants, however, concede that federal-question jurisdiction would lie over challenges to District of Columbia or state agency actions "if the right of [Plaintiffs] to recover under their complaint will be sustained if the... laws of the United States are given one construction and will be defeated if they are given another." Verizon Maryland, Inc. v. Pub. Serv. Comm'n of Maryland, 535 U.S. 635, 643 (2002) (citation and internal alterations omitted); accord Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 7.

Defendants' assertion that this case presents no federal question is belied by their own arguments. The parties' dispute on the merits concerns the scope of the term "statutory powers of arrest" (and more precisely, "arrest"). 18 U.S.C. § 926C(c)(2). Defendants contend that such powers, at a minimum, require the authority to execute arrest warrants and apprehend individuals "for the commission of a crime, " see Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 24, while Plaintiffs argue that LEOSA requires only that retired law enforcement officers have had "some" statutory power of arrest, including the authority to take suspected parole violators into custody, see Pls.' Mem. Opp'n 21-22. Additionally, this case presents a separate, threshold federal question-the only one, incidentally, that this Court reaches-of whether the right that Plaintiffs assert is enforceable under § 1983. This determination hinges on a close analysis of the text and structure of section 3 of LEOSA. See infra Part IV.C.3.

At this juncture, the Court may not "peek at the substance of plaintiff[s'] arguments" any more than is necessary to confirm its jurisdiction. Transp. Workers Union of Am., AFL-CIO v. Transp. Sec. Admin., 492 F.3d 471, 475 (D.C. Cir. 2007). For now, it suffices to conclude that because Plaintiffs' success depends on whether a provision of LEOSA is "given one construction, " Verizon Maryland, 535 U.S. at 643 (citation and internal alterations omitted), this case "aris[es] under the... laws... of the United States, " and this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.[14]

* * *

Because Plaintiffs have standing to assert claims for declaratory and injunctive relief on their own behalf and because their claims present a federal question, jurisdiction lies over these claims under both Article III and 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Insofar, however, as Plaintiffs request relief on behalf of future retired DOC correctional officers not presently in this case, the Court dismisses such claims for lack of third-party standing.[15]

B. Dismissal of Individual Defendants Gray and Faust

Plaintiffs assert their claims against the District of Columbia, along with Mayor Vincent Gray and Director of DOC Thomas N. Faust, both in their official capacities. See Corr. Am. Compl. 1. In their motion, Defendants contend that Gray and Faust should be dismissed from this action because the claims against them are duplicative of the claims against the District. See Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 28.

"Official capacity suits... generally represent only another way of pleading an action against an entity of which an officer is an agent.'" Kentucky v. Graham, 473 U.S. 159, 165 (1985) (quoting Monell v. N.Y.C. Dep't of Soc. Servs., 436 U.S. 658, 690 n.55 (1978)). Bringing a claim against both an employer and an officer in his official capacity is usually "redundant and an inefficient use of judicial resources." Cooke-Seals v. District of Columbia, 973 F.Supp. 184, 187 (D.D.C. 1997) (dismissing Title VII and Americans with Disabilities Act claims against officers); see also Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 424 (D.C. Cir. 1996) (applying principle to § 1983). To be sure, there is "no requirement" mandating dismissal of duplicative claims against officials. Owens v. District of Columbia, 631 F.Supp.2d 48, 54 (D.D.C. 2009); see also Monell, 436 U.S. at 690 n.55 ("[L]ocal government officials sued in their official capacities are persons' under § 1983 in those cases in which... a local government would be suable in its own name.").

Here, Plaintiffs have not proffered any reason why Gray and Faust's presence in the case is necessary. Cf. Cooke-Seals, 973 F.Supp. at 187 ("Plaintiff's argument that maintenance of the claims is necessary to obtain discovery from the officers is accompanied by no showing that the individuals have been unavailable for discovery."). Indeed, Plaintiffs have failed altogether to respond to Defendants' argument, thereby conceding the issue. See Hopkins v. Women's Div., Gen. Bd. of Global Ministries, 284 F.Supp.2d 15, 25 (D.D.C. 2003) ("[W]hen a plaintiff files an opposition to a dispositive motion and addresses only certain arguments raised by the defendant, a court may treat those arguments that the plaintiff failed to address as conceded.").

Accordingly, the Court dismisses Gray and Faust as parties to this action. Accordingly, the Court's analysis below refers only to the remaining defendant, the District of Columbia.

C. Failure to State a Claim

In its motion to dismiss, the District contends that Plaintiffs' complaint must be dismissed because it does not assert any right enforceable under § 1983. In the District's view, LEOSA confers only one "substantive" right-the right to carry a concealed firearm across state lines, which attaches only when an individual is a qualified retired law enforcement officer under subsection (c) and possesses the identification required by subsection (d), the latter of which Plaintiffs concede they lack.[16] Reply Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 4, 5; see also Mem. Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 5-6. Because the Court agrees that LEOSA does not unambiguously create the individual right that Plaintiffs seek to enforce, it dismisses the remaining claims against the District. The Court accordingly declines to reach the District's other arguments concerning whether the anti-commandeering doctrine creates constitutional doubt sufficient to disfavor Plaintiffs' construction of LEOSA and whether Plaintiffs' powers of arrest while employed by DOC rendered them "law enforcement officers."

1. Legal Framework

Section 1983 provides a remedy for the deprivation of "any rights, privileges, or immunities secured by the Constitution and laws" of the United States, by a person acting under color of any State or District of Columbia statute, custom, or usage. 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Although the "laws" of the United States include federal statutes, see Maine v. Thiboutot, 448 U.S. 1, 4 (1980), a cause of action under § 1983 will not lie for any statutory violation. Rather, "a plaintiff must assert the violation of a federal right, not merely a violation of federal law. " Blessing v. Freestone, 520 U.S. 329, 340 (1997).

In Blessing v. Freestone , the Supreme Court enumerated three factors governing a court's determination of whether a federal statute creates a "right" enforceable under § 1983, each of which must be satisfied independently. See id. "First, Congress must have intended that the provision in question benefit the plaintiff." Id. "Second, the plaintiff must demonstrate that the right assertedly protected by the statute is not so vague and amorphous' that its enforcement would strain judicial competence." Id. at 340-41 (citation omitted). "Third, the statute must unambiguously impose a binding obligation on the States, " using "mandatory, rather than precatory, terms." Id. at 341. At issue in Blessing was whether Title IV-D of the Social Security Act created enforceable individual rights through its requirements governing state child support enforcement programs that received federal funds. See id. at 333-35. Rather than apply the three factors to Title IV-D, the Court remanded to enable the district court "to construe the complaint in the first instance, in order to determine exactly what rights, considered in their most concrete, specific form" the plaintiffs sought to enforce. Id. at 346.

Subsequently, in Gonzaga University v. Doe, the Supreme Court reviewed its precedents governing determination of rights enforceable under § 1983, including Blessing. 536 U.S. 273, 280-83 (2002). At issue in Gonzaga were provisions in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 ("FERPA") that prohibited federal funding of educational organizations with a policy or practice of making unauthorized disclosures of student records. Id. at 278-79. The plaintiff sued Gonzaga University under § 1983, alleging that it had released his personal information to an "unauthorized person, " in violation of FERPA. Id. at 277. Clarifying the first Blessing factor, the Court emphasized that nothing "less than an unambiguously conferred right is enforceable by § 1983, " id. at 283, and that the central inquiry is "whether or not Congress intended to confer individual rights upon a class of beneficiaries, " as ascertained from the statute's "text and structure, " id. at 285-86. Rights, moreover, must be distinguished from "broader or vaguer benefits' or interests'"; the latter commonly arise when individuals benefit incidentally from regulations or federal funding restrictions, but they do not constitute enforceable individual rights. Id. at 283; see also Alexander v. Sandoval, 532 U.S. 275, 289 (2001) ("Statutes that focus on the person regulated rather than the individuals protected create no implication of an intent to confer rights on a particular class of persons" (internal quotation marks and citation omitted)).

In concluding that the FERPA provisions at issue did not create an individual right enforceable under § 1983, the Gonzaga Court explained that a statutory provision evincing intent to confer individual rights must contain "rights-creating language" that is "individually focused" rather than targeting "institutional policy and practice" or having an "aggregate focus." Id. at 287-88 (internal quotation marks and citations omitted). The FERPA provisions pertaining to unauthorized disclosures, reasoned the Court, "entirely lack[ed]" any "rights-creating" language and only barred the Secretary of Education from providing federal funding to offending educational institutions; the focus was thus on "institutional policy and practice" at an "aggregate" level, rather than the "needs of any particular person." Id. (citations omitted). Moreover, the absence of a "federal review mechanism" favors judicial recognition of "individually enforceable private rights." Id. at 289-90. In the case of FERPA, Congress authorized the Secretary of Education to "deal with violations" of the Act and required the Secretary to create a "review board" for this purpose. Id. at 289 (emphasis omitted).

Additionally, the Gonzaga Court clarified the relationship between § 1983 enforceable "rights" analysis and implied right of action analysis. Id. at 283. The Court explained that "whether a statutory violation may be enforced through § 1983 is a different inquiry than that involved in determining whether a private right of action can be implied from a particular statute." Id. Namely, plaintiffs proceeding under § 1983 "do not have the burden of showing an intent to create a private remedy because § 1983 generally supplies a remedy for the vindication of rights secured by federal statutes." Id. at 284.[17] The two analytical frameworks, however, share a common "initial inquiry-determining whether a statute confers any right at all." Id. at 285; see also Suter v. Artist M., 503 U.S. 347, 358 n.8 (1992) (undertaking § 1983 rights analysis by examining statute on "its own terms"); accord Lampkin v. District of Columbia, 27 F.3d 605, 609-10 (D.C. Cir. 1994).

Applying the above principles, the Court now considers whether the right at issue in this action is enforceable under § 1983. At the outset, the Court notes that because Plaintiffs bring this action under § 1983, which "generally supplies a remedy, " the Court need not ask whether LEOSA provides Plaintiffs with an express or implied remedy. Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 284.[18] The sole question is "whether Congress intended to create a federal right "-that is, whether LEOSA "unambiguously" creates the right that Plaintiffs seek to effectuate through the remedy provided by § 1983. Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 283.

2. The Right Asserted by Plaintiffs

The Court begins by ascertaining the right that Plaintiffs seek to enforce, which is itself a subject of dispute. Close analysis of the complaint is required to discern "exactly what righ[t], considered in [its] most concrete, specific form, " Plaintiffs seeks to enforce. Blessing, 520 U.S. at 346 (remanding the case to enable the district court to review the complaint).

Plaintiffs challenge DOC's refusal to certify on the prior employment certification form that Plaintiffs were previously "law enforcement officers" under LEOSA, where such refusal is based on DOC's determination that they did not have the requisite "statutory powers of arrest" within the meaning of subsection (c)(2). See Certification of Prior Law Enforcement Employment, Pls.' Ex. B; Corr. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 51, 55. By way of remedies, Plaintiffs seek an order directing Defendants to "certify and/or acknowledge Plaintiffs as retired law enforcement officers" under the Act, and a declaratory judgment stating the same. Corr. Am. Compl. 17. If DOC is compelled to "acknowledge" Plaintiffs as retired "law enforcement officers, " they would presumably succeed in obtaining the prior employment certification form attesting to this status. Plaintiffs claim that thereafter, they would proceed to seek their firearm certification, which is a prerequisite for obtaining a concealed carry permit issued by Prince George's County and District authorities pursuant to LEOSA. See id. ¶ 47.

Plaintiffs' request implicates a statutory wrinkle. The prior employment certification form at issue asks whether the applicant was "regularly employed as a law enforcement officer, " and Plaintiffs seek an order that would effectively compel DOC to answer "yes." Certification of Prior Law Enforcement Employment, Pls.' Ex. B; see also Corr. Am. Compl. 17. On its face, however, LEOSA does not define the term "law enforcement officer"-only "qualified retired law enforcement officer, " whose definition appears in subsection (c). See 18 U.S.C. § 926C(c). The prior employment certification form does not ask DOC to certify Plaintiffs as "qualified retired law enforcement officers" under subsection (c). Nor, it seems, could DOC do so in a manner consistent with the Act: That definition includes the requirement in subsection (c)(4) that the individual possess certain firearms qualifications, and these qualifications mirror the content of the firearm certification detailed in subsection (d)(2)(B), which certification Plaintiffs presently lack. See id. § 926C(c)(4), (d)(2)(B).[19]

The parties appear to agree, however, that for purposes of this case, subsection (c)(2) functionally defines the term "law enforcement officer." That subsection enumerates the attributes that "qualified retired law enforcement officers" must have possessed " before their separation "- i.e., when they were still employed as "law enforcement officers." Id. § 926C(c)(2) (emphasis added). Subsection (c)(2)'s effective definition of "law enforcement officer, " then, is both the basis for the prior employment certification form's queries, and the source of Plaintiffs' asserted right.[20]

Having elucidated the relief sought by Plaintiffs and the relevant statutory provisions, the Court now frames the right at issue in this case. In the most precise terms, Plaintiffs seek to vindicate a negative right-the right to be free from District officials' misapplication of LEOSA's federal definition of "law enforcement officer" in subsection (c)(2). See Pls.' Mem. Opp'n 14 n.6 ("Plaintiffs are entitled not to be injured in their rights by a post hoc and inaccurate representation by the DOC as to their status during their careers.").[21] For the sake of conceptual simplicity, however, the Court frames the right asserted by Plaintiffs in positive terms-it is the right to have DOC classify them as retired "law enforcement officers" under subsection (c)(2) for purposes of completing their application for a concealed carry permit.

3. Enforceability Under § 1983 of the Right Asserted by Plaintiffs

The Court now considers whether the right asserted by Plaintiffs-the right to be classified by DOC as retired "law enforcement officers" consistent with subsection (c)(2)'s definition-is enforceable under § 1983. The Court concludes that it is not, on the grounds that LEOSA does not unambiguously provide Plaintiffs with such an individual right.

The Court is guided in its analysis by the Second Circuit's and Third Circuit's analyses of a similar, neighboring statutory provision-18 U.S.C. § 926A, which permits an individual, under certain conditions, to transport firearms from a state where they are legal to another state where they are legal, while passing through a state where they are illegal.[22] In Torraco v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the three plaintiffs were stopped in New York and delayed during their travels (and two arrested) for possession of firearms without a New York firearm license. 615 F.3d 129, 132 (2d Cir. 2010). They sued various state entities and officials under § 1983, seeking to enforce their rights under § 926A. See id. The Second Circuit affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment. See id. On the basis of the second Blessing factor, the majority held that any right protected by § 926A would be too "vague and amorphous" for enforcement under § 1983 given the "difficulties, faced by judiciary and law enforcement officers, inherent in [§ 926A's] application"; the statute requires knowledge of the gun laws of both the origin and destination jurisdictions. Id. at 137-38. In so holding, the majority also looked to the first Blessing factor, finding "no evidence in the text or structure of Section 926A that would indicate that Congress intended that police officers tasked with enforcing state gun laws should be liable for damages when they fail to correctly apply Section 926A." Id. at 137.[23]

The Third Circuit undertook a similar analysis of § 926A in Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs Inc. v. Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. 730 F.3d 252 (3d Cir. 2013). In that case, the plaintiffs brought suit under § 1983 on behalf of individuals who wished to carry firearms while walking through Newark Airport, where their possession was illegal under New Jersey law. Id. at 253, 255. The majority held that § 926A creates the individual right to transport firearms through a state whose laws prohibited their possession but "expressly conditions this entitlement" on the individual's use of a vehicle for such transport. Id. at 254-55. Under this interpretation, because the plaintiffs sought to carry firearms on foot, they were "outside the particular class of persons to whom Congress intended to confer a right under section 926A." Id. at 257.[24]

Turning to section 3 of LEOSA, the Court begins (and ends) with the first Blessing factor-whether Congress "intended that the provision in question benefit" Plaintiffs. Blessing, 520 U.S. at 340. Mindful that this inquiry requires an "unambiguously conferred right" borne out in the "text and structure" of the statute, see Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 282, 285, and finding guidance in Torraco and New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs, the Court holds that Congress did not intend to confer upon Plaintiffs the right that they seek to enforce in this action.

Section 3 of LEOSA confers a singular individual right-the right to carry a concealed firearm, as articulated in subsection (a). Subsection (a), in turn, conditions the existence of this right on two requirements-status as a "qualified retired law enforcement officer, " as defined in subsection (c), and possession of identification documents explained in subsection (d). See 18 U.S.C. § 926C(a), (c), (d). Any right created by section 3 of LEOSA extends no further than this. Indeed, all of the judges on the Torraco and New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs panels, despite their various disagreements, scrutinized the exacting preconditions for enjoying the right to transport firearms under § 926A, such as the mode of transport and the lawfulness of possession in the origin and destination states. See N.J. Rifle & Pistol Clubs, 730 F.3d at 254 (explaining that right is "expressly condition[ed]" on prerequisites); id. at 258-59 (Jordan, J., concurring) (explaining that right is not "clearly limited" to vehicular travel, but concluding that right is limited to a defense to criminal liability); Torraco, 615 F.3d at 132 (explaining that right attaches "provided that several conditions are met"); id. at 143 (Wesley, J., concurring) (explaining that right attaches only "when the statutory prerequisites are satisfied").[25] Here, Plaintiffs concede that they have no firearm certification, and-more importantly-the right that they seek to enforce in this litigation is not the right to carry a concealed firearm, notwithstanding suggestions otherwise in their opposition. See supra Part IV.C.2 (defining right at issue); supra note 8.[26]

Notably, the Torraco court further suggested that § 926A confers no procedural right to an accurate assessment of an individual's eligibility to enjoy the right protected by that provision. Although that court focused on the "vague and amorphous" nature of the asserted right (the second Blessing factor not reached in this analysis), the Torraco court reasoned more broadly that it discerned "no evidence in the text or structure of Section 926A" of congressional intent "that police officers tasked with enforcing state gun laws should be liable for damages when they fail to correctly apply Section 926A. " Torraco, 615 F.3d at 137 (emphasis added); see also id. at 136 ("[C]ourts should not find a federal right based on a rigid or superficial application of the Blessing factors where other considerations show that Congress did not intend to create federal rights...." (citation omitted)). That is, even when a state official on the front lines erroneously concludes that an individual falls outside the "particular class of persons" protected by § 926A, N.J. Rifle & Pistol Clubs, 730 F.3d at 257, that statute creates no liability for this mistake under § 1983. Applying the same logic, this Court concludes that section 3 of LEOSA similarly creates no right to sue the District or its officials "when they fail to correctly apply" the subsection (c)(2) definition of "law enforcement officer." Id. [27]

Borrowing from tort notions of proximate cause, Plaintiffs urge this Court to focus on the "impact" of the District's "conduct" on the right to carry established in subsection (a). Pls.' Mem. Opp'n 15. To be sure, the Court recognizes that subsection (c)(2)'s definition of "law enforcement officer" applies to the plainly rights-creating subsection (a) and thus should not be read strictly standing "alone." Cf. 31 Foster Children v. Bush, 329 F.3d 1255, 1271 (11th Cir. 2003) (holding that where the federal Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act is directed toward policies and practices as opposed to individual rights, its definitional provisions cannot, standing "alone, " give rise to individual rights).[28] That is, there might be some cases in which a failure to classify an individual as a "law enforcement officer" denies that individual his right to carry a concealed firearm, which right he attained by satisfying the requirements of subsection (a). Further cutting in Plaintiffs' favor, status as a "law enforcement officer" is not a "broader or vaguer benefi[t]' or interes[t]'" flowing from a regulatory scheme or federal funding conditions. Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 283.[29]

But on the facts alleged here, the Court declines to blur the boundaries of LEOSA's concealed carry right. Here, Plaintiffs do not possess the requisite firearm certification and aver that they have no plans to carry a concealed firearm without first obtaining a LEOSA permit issued by local authorities. Accordingly, subsection (a)'s concealed carry right offers them no relief; subsection (a) does not create an implicit, standalone procedural right to be classified correctly under subsection (c)(2)'s definition of "law enforcement officer." See Corr. Am. Compl. ¶ 84 (alleging that the District deprived Plaintiffs of "right to carry"); Pls.' Mem. Opp'n 14 (same). Such bootstrapping cannot be squared with the Supreme Court's mandate to look to whether a specific right, asserted by the complaint in "concrete, specific" terms, Blessing, 520 U.S. at 346, is "unambiguously" secured by the statute at issue, Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 282. Moreover, Plaintiffs' appeal to proximate causation misses the mark: The question under the § 1983 enforceable rights framework is not whether the District has caused some injury to their interests (this seems to echo the standing inquiry), but whether the right at issue is an individual right unambiguously created by LEOSA and enforceable under § 1983.[30] Id. At best, the right asserted by Plaintiffs is an ambiguous one, and any ambiguity defeats their cause of action. See Gonzaga Univ., 536 U.S. at 282.

The Court is not unsympathetic to Plaintiffs' plight. Today's decision in no way implies that DOC's determination of Plaintiffs' status complied with subsection (c)(2). That, of course, is a matter for the merits, which the Court does not reach. Rather, the Court concludes that even if DOC misclassified Plaintiffs and violated the "law, " Congress did not intend through LEOSA to confer a "right" to have this mistake corrected, at least by way of § 1983. See Blessing, 520 U.S. at 340 (holding that § 1983 provides a remedy for "the violation of a federal right, not merely a violation of federal law "). Moreover, as the District suggests (albeit tentatively), Plaintiffs would possibly be able to take their grievance to "state court or an appropriate administrative forum" and attempt there to compel the District to complete the prior employment certification form in accordance with subsection (c)(2). Reply Supp. Defs.' Mot. Dismiss 7. The Court encourages Plaintiffs to pursue that potential avenue.

Plaintiffs rely on subsection (c)(2) for an alleged procedural right to have DOC apply LEOSA's definition of "law enforcement officer" in processing their prior employment certification form. But having considered the "text and structure" of the Act, the Court concludes that because Congress conferred no such right, Plaintiffs have failed to state a claim against the District.[31] Additionally, for the same reason, Plaintiffs have not stated a claim for municipal liability under § 1983, [32] and they are not entitled to a declaratory judgment.[33] Accordingly, the Court need not reach any of the remaining issues raised by the parties.[34] Because Plaintiffs' asserted right to classification as retired "law enforcement officers" consistent with section 3(c)(2) of LEOSA is not a right enforceable under § 1983, the Court grants the motion to dismiss the remaining claims against the District.

V. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons, Defendants' motion to dismiss (ECF No. 19) is GRANTED, and Plaintiffs' motion for oral argument (ECF No. 26) is DENIED AS MOOT. An Order consistent with this Memorandum Opinion is separately and contemporaneously issued.


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