The day after the Department of Health and Human Services lost the first of five lawsuits challenging its termination of Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program grants, Trump Administration officials attempted to circumvent the Court’s ruling by issuing new criteria for awarding those grants. Under the new criteria, the Department would have unlawfully funded untested, abstinence-only content, rather than programs shown to be effective through rigorous evaluation, in violation of Congress’s clear intent to fund only programs scientifically proven to work. We filed suit on behalf of Multnomah County, Oregon.

The Department’s unlawful funding criteria would have required young people to receive untested sexual education, rather than evidence-based materials. By requiring grantees to incorporate unproven, abstinence-only approaches into every component of their programs, the Department attempted to dictate a single, untested approach to teen pregnancy prevention that would disadvantage grantees that cannot prioritize abstinence-only education under state law or that rely on scientifically proven methods of pregnancy prevention. In short, the Department’s actions elevated ideology over science.

We filed suit on behalf of Multnomah County, alleging that HHS flouted Congressional mandates and politicized Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program grants. Multnomah County was awarded a grant in 2015 and used $1.25 million per year to educate 15,000 teens, train 107 teachers, and engage 329 parents and caregivers in 32 middle and high schools across the county. We argued that the Department’s actions were taken ultra vires and violated the Administrative Procedure Act, the Purpose Statute, and the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, and asked the Court to vacate the new funding criteria.

The Court agreed with us that the Department’s actions were unlawful and vacated the criteria. The government has appealed the decision, and the case is pending before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

June 8, 2018

We filed suit in the District of Oregon on behalf of Multnomah County.

June 22, 2018

We moved for a preliminary injunction and for partial summary judgment.

In our motion, we argued that the new funding criteria violated the statutory text, the Purpose Statute, and the Appropriations Clause of the Constitution, and that Multnomah would be irrevocably harmed if the Department were allowed to use the new funding criteria. We also filed declarations on behalf of a member of Multnomah’s health department and the County’s grant partners that further detailed the harm caused by the government’s actions.

August 10, 2018

Twenty members of Congress filed an amicus brief in support of our lawsuit.

The brief emphasized that the Administration’s new criteria defied Congress’ intent to fund only those programs scientifically proven to reduce teen pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.

August 13, 2018

We presented oral argument before the Court regarding our motion for preliminary and permanent relief.

The Court held that the Department’s actions were unlawful and vacated the new funding criteria.

September 26, 2018

The government appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Jeffrey Dubner

Senior Counsel

Challenging unlawful executive branch actions through a wide range of legal strategies

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Josephine Morse

Senior Counsel

Litigating claims under the Administrative Procedure Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy Act, and the U.S. Constitution.

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Megan Uzzell

External Affairs Director

Strategically engaging clients, coalitions, elected officials, and others to leverage our work and achieve maximum impact.

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Ben Seel

Legal Analyst

Focusing on justice, law enforcement, national security, and immigration issues.

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