United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
TIMOTHY J. KELLY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
have filed suit against various District of Columbia public
officials, alleging that they have unlawfully failed to
provide Capitol View Library, which serves a predominantly
black neighborhood, with the same renovations and related
services provided to other public library branches that serve
predominately white neighborhoods. Before the Court is
Plaintiffs' Amended Motion for a Preliminary Injunction,
which requests that the Court order Defendants to provide
additional resources to Capitol View Library, make changes to
its renovation plans, and enjoin its re-opening, which is
scheduled for December 18, 2017. See ECF No. 19-1
(“Am. Mot.”). There is little doubt that
Plaintiffs are dissatisfied with the way in which Capitol
View Library's renovation has proceeded. That is
unfortunate, but it is not a basis to grant their motion. The
Court finds that they are not likely to succeed on the merits
of their claims here, nor will they suffer irreparable injury
absent the injunctive relief sought. Moreover, the balance of
the equities and the public interest weigh against the
relief. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' motion is
District of Columbia Public Library (“DCPL”) is a
free public library system that was created by Congress in
1896. See ECF No. 24 (“Def. Opp.”) at 2;
D.C. Code § 39-101. DCPL is administered by a
nine-member Board of Trustees, and consists of a central
library and twenty-five branch libraries in neighborhoods
throughout the District of Columbia. Def. Opp. at 2; D.C.
Code §§ 39-101, 39-104. The central library and all
branch libraries are open to all residents of the District of
Columbia, regardless of the neighborhood in which they
reside. Def. Opp. at 30; D.C. Code § 39-103. Capitol
View Library is a DCPL branch library located in Ward 7 that
serves a predominantly black neighborhood. Am. Mot. at 3;
Def. Opp. at 2. Decisions related to DCPL's capital and
operations funding are made by the Mayor and the Council of
the District of Columbia (the “Council”) through
the District of Columbia's annual budget process.
See Am. Mot. at 4; Def. Opp. at 3; D.C. Code §
Fiscal Year (“FY”) 2008, this process has
authorized funding for renovations at eighteen full-service
DCPL branch libraries throughout the District of Columbia.
See Def. Opp. at 3. Renovations for two additional
DCPL branch libraries were separately funded through another
budget mechanism. Id. By early November 2017,
renovations had been completed at fifteen of these DCPL
branch libraries. Id. Five of these projects,
including the renovation of Capitol View Library, are still
in progress. Id.
FY 2015 budget, Capitol View Library's renovation was
initially allocated $10.5 million in funding, but that amount
was reduced to $4.5 million in the FY 2016 budget due to the
overall reduction of the DCPL capital budget. Am. Mot. at 4;
Def. Opp. at 5. However, in the FY 2018 budget, the Council
increased this project's funding to $7.2 million, by
adding $2 million for “exterior improvements” and
$700, 000 “to provide an interim library space.”
Def. Opp. at 6. The project's overall budget has since
increased to approximately $7.9 million, after DCPL added
$726, 000 to the project from other sources. Id.
View Library closed for interior renovations on February 25,
2017. See Am. Mot. at 3-4; Def. Opp. at 7. When
libraries are closed for renovations, DCPL must determine
whether it will provide interim library services for the
community during the closure. See Def. Opp. at 4;
ECF No. 27-7 (“Reyes-Gavilan Decl.”) ¶ 3.
Interim library services can range from placing DCPL
librarians at other sites in the community-for example, at
schools-to providing interim facilities capable of offering
basic library services on a temporary basis. Reyes-Gavilan
Decl. ¶ 4. DCPL considers the renovation's scope and
budget when deciding whether to provide interim services,
because the cost of those services comes out of the
renovation's budget. Id. ¶ 5. When deciding
whether to provide an interim facility as part of those
services, DCPL also considers the length of planned closure
and the library's proximity to other branches.
Id. ¶ 6. DCPL generally provides an interim
facility for library closures lasting longer than one year
and where there is no other DCPL branch library within a
mile. Id. In this case, DCPL provided interim
services by assigning Capitol View Library staff members to
nearby libraries, visiting neighborhood schools, and
conducting outreach to daycare and early learning facilities.
See Def. Opp. at 7; Reyes-Gavilan Decl. ¶ 7.
DCPL attempted to open an interim library facility at a local
church, albeit unsuccessfully. Reyes-Gavilan Decl. ¶ 7;
see Am. Mot. at 7.
also commonly provides what is known as “opening day
collection” funding for DCPL branches that re-open
after being closed for renovation. See Def. Opp. at
4; Reyes-Gavilan Decl. ¶ 8. This funding is designed to
cover the one-time costs associated with
“refreshing” a library's existing collection.
Reyes-Gavilan Decl. ¶ 8. Generally, the shorter the
closure, the less dated the materials are upon the
library's re-opening, and the less
“refreshing” its books and materials require.
Id. ¶ 9. The amount of this funding is also
tied to the number of items the specific library circulates.
Id. ¶ 10. Capitol View Library, which
circulated 33, 416 items in FY 2015 and was scheduled for a
nine-month closure, received an allocation of $50, 000 for
that purpose. Id. ¶ 11; Am Mot. at 9-10.
interior renovations at Capitol View Library are now
substantially complete. See Def. Opp. at 7.
Accordingly, DCPL plans to re-open the library to the public
on December 18, 2017. Id.; Reyes-Gavilan Decl.
¶ 13. Afterward, DCPL plans for Capitol View Library to
undergo the design phase for exterior renovations, and to
close the library again in the spring of 2018 to implement
those renovations. Reyes-Gavilan Decl. ¶ 13. When
Capitol View Library closes again, DCPL plans to open an
interim library facility on the grounds of J.C. Nalle
Elementary School, pursuant to an already-executed
interagency Memorandum of Agreement. Id. ¶ 13;
ECF No. 27-21.
filed suit on November 6, 2017, and simultaneously filed a
motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction. See ECF No. 1; ECF No. 4. On November
20, the Court held a teleconference with the parties and
established a briefing schedule for Plaintiffs'
anticipated amended motion for injunctive relief. On November
21, Plaintiffs filed an amended complaint. ECF No. 20
(“Am. Compl.”). On November 22, they filed the
amended motion for a preliminary injunction, mooting their
original motion for a temporary restraining order and
preliminary injunction. Am. Mot.
November 29, Defendants Yvette Alexander, Vincent Gray, and
David Grosso (the “Council Defendants”) filed an
opposition to Plaintiffs' amended motion and moved to
dismiss Plaintiffs' amended complaint. See ECF
No. 23-1 (“Cncl. Def. Opp.”). That same day,
Defendants Muriel Bowser, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, and Gregory
McCarthy (the “Executive Defendants”) also filed
an opposition to Plaintiffs' amended motion. See
Def. Opp. On December 7, Plaintiffs filed a reply to each of
these oppositions. See ECF No. 33 (“Reply to
Def. Opp.”); ECF No. 34 (“Reply to Cncl. Def.
Opp.”). On December 13, Plaintiffs filed a notice
attaching supplemental exhibits in support of their motion.
See ECF No. 37. On December 14, Executive Defendants
moved to file a surreply. See ECF No. 38
(“Def. Surrep.”). That same day Council
Defendants filed a reply in support of their motion to
dismiss, and the Court held a hearing on the motion.
See ECF No. 39. On December 15, the Court granted
Executive Defendants leave to file their surreply.
preliminary injunction is “an extraordinary remedy that
may only be awarded upon a clear showing that the plaintiff
is entitled to such relief.” Winter v. Nat. Res.
Def. Council, Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 22 (2008). To warrant a
preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs must establish that (1)
they are likely to succeed on the merits; (2) they are likely
to suffer irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary
relief; (3) the balance of equities tips in their favor; and
(4) an injunction is in the public interest. Id. at
20. Historically, the D.C. Circuit has employed a
“sliding scale” test, whereby “[a] district
court must ‘balance the strengths of the requesting
party's arguments in each of the four required
areas.' If the showing in one area is particularly
strong, an injunction may issue even if the showings in other
areas are rather weak.” Chaplaincy of Full Gospel
Churches v. England, 454 F.3d 290, 297 (D.C. Cir. 2006)
(quoting CityFed Fin. Corp. v. Office of Thrift
Supervision, 58 F.3d 738, 747 (D.C. Cir. 1995))
the Supreme Court's decision in Winter, however,
the D.C. Circuit has suggested that a more stringent test may
apply, and that the likelihood of success on the merits may
be an “independent, free-standing requirement for a
preliminary injunction.” Sherley v. Sebelius,
644 F.3d 388, 393 (D.C. Cir. 2011) (internal quotation mark
omitted). In light of the above, the Court employs the
“sliding scale” framework to evaluate
Plaintiffs' claims. Because Plaintiffs “cannot meet
the less demanding ‘sliding scale' standard, [they]
cannot satisfy the more stringent standard alluded to by the
Court of Appeals.” Kingman Park Civic Ass'n v.
Gray, 956 F.Supp.2d 230, 241 (D.D.C. 2013).
Court finds that Plaintiffs are not at all likely to succeed
on the merits of their claims, nor will they suffer
irreparable injury absent the injunctive relief sought.
Moreover, the balance of the equities and the public interest
weigh against the relief.
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
Budget Autonomy Act (Count I)
allege that Defendants violated D.C. Code § 1-204.46(d),
which was enacted as part of the Local Budget Autonomy Act of
2012 (the “Budget Autonomy Act”), D.C. Act 19-321
(2013), by “reprogramming” $700, 000 that was
allocated for interim library space for the communities
served by Capitol View Library. Am. Mot. at 8, 11-12; Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 31-36. The statute requires that, after
the adoption of the annual budget for a fiscal year,
“no reprogramming of amounts in the budget may occur
unless the Mayor submits to the Council a request for such
reprogramming and the Council approves the request” and
certain other conditions are met. D.C. Code §
threshold matter, Plaintiffs have not demonstrated a
likelihood of success on the merits on this count because it
is unlikely that they have a private right of action to
enforce the Budget Autonomy Act. The relevant test to
determine whether a D.C. statute creates an implied private
right of action is set forth in Cort v. Ash, 422
U.S. 66 (1975). See, e.g., Dial A Car, Inc. v.
Transp., Inc., 132 F.3d 743, 744 (D.C. Cir. 1998). In
Cort, the Supreme Court stated:
In determining whether a private remedy is implicit in a
statute not expressly providing one, several factors are
relevant. First, is the plaintiff one of the class for whose
especial benefit the statute was enacted-that is,
does the statute create a . . . right in favor of the
plaintiff? Second, is there any indication of legislative
intent, explicit or implicit, either to create such a remedy
or to deny one? Third, is it consistent with the underlying
purposes of the legislative scheme to imply such a remedy for
422 U.S. at 78 (internal quotation marks and citations
omitted) (emphasis in original). When dealing with statutes,
such as this one, that do not expressly provide a private
right of action, plaintiffs must meet a “relatively
heavy burden of demonstrating that [the legislature]
affirmatively or specifically contemplated private
enforcement when it passed the relevant statute.”
Samuels v. District of Columbia, 770 F.2d 184, 194
(D.C. Cir. 1985).
the issue was not briefed extensively by the parties, it does
not appear that Plaintiffs are likely to meet this burden.
The Budget Autonomy Act addresses the roles and
responsibilities of the components of the District of
Columbia's government in appropriating and spending local
funds. See generally Budget Autonomy Act, D.C. Act
19-321 (2013). The law was passed by the Council to provide
greater control over local funds by the District of Columbia,
as opposed to Congress. Council of the District of Columbia,
Committee of the Whole, Report on Bill 19-993, at 1-5 (Dec.
4, 2012). The specific provision cited by Plaintiffs is
entitled “Enactment of local budget by council.”
D.C. Code § 1-204.46. And it is located in a subpart of
the D.C. Code entitled “Budget and Financial
Management.” D.C. Code §§ 1-204.41- 1-204.53.
Plaintiffs cite nothing that suggests that the law was passed
to benefit a special class of persons, that the Council
intended to create a private right of action when passing it,
or that the underlying legislative scheme is consistent with
such a right. Indeed, Plaintiffs do not even address the
relevant legal standard. See Am. Mot. at 11-12;
Reply to Def. Opp. at 5-6. They try to claim that the
Declaratory Judgment Act, 28 U.S.C. § 2201, somehow
obviates the need to demonstrate that the statute contains a
private right of action. Reply to Def. Opp. at 5. But it is
well settled that the Declaratory Judgment Act does not
provide a private right of action; it only authorizes a form
of relief. See Ali v. Rumsfeld, 649 F.3d 762, 778
(D.C. Cir. 2011).
a private right to enforce it existed, however, Plaintiffs
have still not demonstrated a likelihood that the law was in
fact violated, because they fail to show that any funds have
actually been-or even will be-unlawfully reprogrammed.
Plaintiffs appear to allege that DCPL has not yet spent the
$700, 000 that has been allocated for interim services, Am.
Mot. at 11-12, and may never spend it. They further allege
that DCPL may spend the funds on other community needs,
citing a meeting on September 19, 2017, in which DCPL
“presented a proposal that would give the community a
choice between getting an interim service modular trailer by
Jan/Feb 2018 or keeping the $700K and investing the funds in
other ways, ” Am. Mot. at 8.
neither scenario suggests that a violation of the Budget
Autonomy Act has occurred, or is even likely. First, the
provision cited by Plaintiffs prohibits the unlawful
reprogramming of funds, not failing to spend them. Second,
under the law, if the referenced proposal were accepted by
the community, the Mayor could then seek Council approval to
reprogram the funds, consistent with and as contemplated by
D.C. Code § 1-204.46(d), during the nine or so months
remaining in FY 2018. In any event, DCPL's current
intention is not to reprogram the funds, but to use
them consistent with the purpose for which they were
allocated: to open an interim library facility in a school in
Plaintiffs' neighborhood when Capitol View Library closes
in the spring. See Def. Opp. at 17-18; Reyes-Gavilan
Decl. ¶ 13. The ...