We secured complete victory.
The government conceded defeat and dropped its appeal of the Oregon federal court’s ruling that it had flouted congressional mandates by issuing unlawful new criteria for prospective Teen Pregnancy Program grantees.Learn More
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 dropped its appeal, delivering a complete victory for Multnomah County.
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.
March 19, 2019
The government dropped its appeal.Learn More
In the news
Washington Post / March 19, 2019
- Complaint as Filed (PDF / 312 KB)
- Amended Complaint (PDF / 333 KB)
- Plaintiff’s Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Partial Summary Judgment (PDF / 417 KB)
- Declaration of Kim Toevs (PDF / 442 KB)
- Declaration of Lisa Saunders (PDF / 105 KB)
- Declaration of Veronica S. Leonard (PDF / 591 KB)
- Declaration of Jeffrey B. Dubner (PDF / 288 KB)
- Brief of Members of Congress as Amicus Curiae (PDF / 383 KB)
- Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss and Reply In Support of Plaintiff’s Motion (PDF / 407 KB)
- Declaration of Leslie M. Kantor (PDF / 4 MB)
- Opinion and Order (PDF / 437 KB)
Jeffrey DubnerDeputy Legal Director
Litigating challenges to unlawful actions, abuses of power, and threats to democracy on behalf of those who are harmed.Read the Bio
Megan J. UzzellStrategic Initiatives & External Affairs Director
Strategically engaging clients, coalitions, elected officials, and others to leverage our work and achieve maximum impact.Read the Bio